Interview by Sharmila Valli Narayanan
May 16, 2012
Dr James Stoxen is a well-known figure among rock stars and celebrities in the United States. He is a star in the world of chiropractors and an advocate of running barefoot. Sharmila Valli Narayanan meets up with the man with the magic touch who literally brings back the spring to your step.
Chiropractor Dr James Stoxen DC is a strong advocate of running barefoot. According to him, most of us walk wrongly, which, in turn, causes all kinds of problems to crop up from knee and joint pains to backache.One of the Malaysian reporters whocame to interview him had over the past year developed a mysterious condition in her legs that caused this once-fit runner unable to run.
Worse, her left leg had become numb. She had consulted many specialists and podiatrists but to no avail. Most of them said that she would eventually have to undergo surgery to get some relief from the pain. They also told her that her running days were behind her.
Stoxen, who has been an ‘on-site chiropractor’ for American A-List stars’ concerts since 2003, listened to her complaints and videotaped her walking. He studied the video recording of her gait and said there was no problem with how she walked.
He asked her to come in for a consultation where for about two-and-a-half hours he used his hands to do some deep tissue massaging on her left leg. To the pleasant surprise of the journalist, she actually began to experience sensation in her leg after enduring numbness for more than a year. He told her in order for her to be fully recovered, she would need a series of treatment for both her legs.
He also gave her the book How I Got My Wiggle Back by Anthony Field, ‘the founder and co-star of the world’s most popular children’s musical group, The Wiggles’. The book chronicles Field’s long struggle to battle chronic pain (among other things) to get back his health and vigour. Field’s life took a turn for the better after meeting Stoxen and he credits Stoxen for helping him get back on the road to wellness.
Over the years, Stoxen has helped many of his patients, some of whom were scheduled for hip replacement, recover from their pain without resorting to drugs or surgery.
The barrel-chested Stoxen is a picture of health and vitality himself at 50. It is a difficult task to get him to steer away from one of his favourite topics: the advantages of running barefoot or going shoeless. Not for nothing is he known in the US as the anti-shoe doctor.
Shoes, even the best designed or most expensive ones, give an artificial spring to the feet, while going barefoot is more natural and it actually develops the feet’s natural cushion,’ he claims. Stoxen has been running barefoot for three years and even has taken part in races – barefoot of course. ‘As children, we ran barefoot but we can’t seem to do it as adults. That’s one sign of ageing.’
He cautions again embracing barefootedness immediately. The feet have to be conditioned first by exercises (prescribed in Field’s book) and runners are urged to try running barefoot on grassy surfaces first before
graduating to hard surfaces.
Stoxen: Shoes give an artificial spring to the feet, while going barefoot is more natural and it actually develops the natural cushion.
The man who is in great demand among the rich and famous comes from a humble background. He grew up in South Side, Chicago, a working- class neighbourhood.
He credits his parents for helping to instill in him the idea of having a dream. He describes an incident from his childhood: ‘My parents took me with them when they wanted to buy an apartment. We saw a lot of luxury apartments that were clearly beyond my parents’ budget. Later on, when I was older, I realised why my parents went to look at these expensive apartments. They wanted me to have a dream or vision of the kind of apartment I wanted to live in. They were indirectly letting me know that if I wanted to stay in places like this, I had to make good in life. And that meant getting a good education and working hard.’
He recalls another incident when he was 17 that had a powerful influence on him. ‘My mom came to me with a piece of paper and told me to write down what I wanted to do with my life.’ Stoxen listed down his loves. ‘I love exercise and sports. I wanted to travel around the world like my idol James Bond. I wanted to go to concerts and the ultimate dream was to rub shoulders with the stars.’ His mother told him to look for a job that would combine all this.
Stoxen decided to become a chiropractor because he was attracted by the concept of healing using one’s hands. ‘In my line of work, there is no need for medicine or surgery to heal people; just the hands do all the work.’
Today, Stoxen is living his dream. His job involves all that he loves. ‘I have a life that people only dream about. Everywhere I go, I am treated like a king,’ says Stoxen, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently to give a talk.
Stoxen has toured with all the big names such as Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, the 2008 American Idols Tour and Cirque De Soleil. On these tours, he works on the back-up dancers, musicians and any other members who need help with pain and adjustments. He has also personally attended to many top celebrities whom he does not name because of confidentiality issues.
Working with celebrity and concerts is not glamorous at all, says Stoxen. It’s a lot of hard work: working 12 hours days until the wee hours of the morning is the norm, as most concert crew come to see him after the concert.
Stoxen has not forgotten his humble background. Unlike many other celebrity doctors who have their clinics in Beverly Hills, Stoxen’s centre is in a working-class area in Chicago with a high crime rate. ‘Doctors who treat celebrities need not always be based in Beverly Hills. If you give quality service, people will come to you. I can treat patients everywhere,’ he says.
Being in this neighbourhood, besides giving him a level of comfort, also provides him with an opportunity to help the community. His centre has given away more than US$1 million worth of free treatment to the people in the area. ‘You get more out of life when you give to others,’ he philosophises.
When asked on how to find a good chiropractor, he says, ‘A good chiropractor’s reputation precedes him. Find a chiropractor that approaches your body as a spring mechanism that is capable of healing itself.’
Stoxen hopes to teach more about this healing technique in the future.
‘I hope to have doctors change their model of evaluating treating, training and maintaining the human body from a lever system to a spring mechanism. Basically, I’d like to only teach this new standard of care in medicine to healers around the world,’ he says. mb