Sunday, October 25, 2020

Oxford's Women on the Move: California Dreaming

Note: Due to a scheduling error this story did not run yesterday, May 24. Look for Steve Vassallo’s “Oxford’s Women on the Move” each Thursday.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Annalea Wood.’s Steve Vassallo sat down with Dr. Annalea Wood who arrived here in Oxford in 2017 with a bang….(make that a stretch) as the first female chiropractor in Oxford.

Here’s her story:

Vassallo: Dr. Wood, before we jump into your profession, you invested
some ten years in California. What was it like living there?
Dr. Annalea Wood: I loved living in California. The mountains are beautiful, the people are from everywhere, and the health culture is progressive and innovative. However, different things are important to me now. Now that I have children I feel so grateful to live in a place that moves a little slower and you can really feel the presence of community. But prior to heading west you had roots in the “Big Apple.”
Dr. Annalea Wood: I was born and raised in the East Village in Manhattan. My father is a musician and I was raised around a lot of creative minds. I’m told I had an unusual childhood, touring with Dad instead of summer camp, and taking the subway to school instead of getting driven by Mom. But, to me it’s normal. New York City was a fun place to grow up and I’m very proud to be a city kid.
Vassallo: Occupying a great deal of your time away from the office
on North Lamar, the two year old twin boys must be a challenge.
Dr. Annalea Wood:
They are the MOST challenging and the MOST wonderful part in my life! Any mom of multiples will tell you it is a wild ride, and I will tell you the same. Their names are Rylan and Emmet and they are completely different. Emmet has blond curly hair and loves tractors. Rylan has dark straight hair and loves the moon. They are the absolute lights of my life.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Annalea Wood.

Vassallo: Ever since you’ve been practicing here I’ve have heard many positive endorsements. What makes you special?
Dr. Annalea Wood: Well, that is wonderful to hear. I do practice differently from most chiropractors. Most chiropractors focus on the mobilization of individual joints that may not be moving properly. To mobilize these joints is the purpose of the “chiropractic adjustment”. The adjustment can be incredibly healing. However, in some cases we need to take things a step further. I utilize digital x-ray to analyze the structure of the spine and how far off from normal it may be. Our posture is often the underlying cause of a lot of our discomfort. It is rarely evaluated and almost never rehabilitated. This is my specialty and my passion. I urge everyone to have their structure evaluated at some point in their lives, it is more important than most people know.
Vassallo: For those of us who have never visited a chiropractor, what are we missing?
Dr. Annalea Wood: Many people live with a certain level of pain, they now accept as normal. Chiropractic can offer a safer alternative to medication and surgery. Not only can the treatment feel good and alleviate longstanding discomfort, but what you can learn from going over your spinal x-rays with a structural specialist can be life changing.
Vassallo: Moving to Oxford had to be a culture shock for you after leaving the Bay Area and the home of the Yankees. What brought you here?
Dr. Annalea Wood: First of all, to me it’s the home of the METS not the Yankees! My husband is from Jackson and once we had the boys, we both yearned to raise them in a different setting than we were in. The draw of all Oxford had to offer made it an easy choice. I have to say that although there may be no more a city girl than my roots suggest, I have always loved Mississippi. I watched Gone with the Wind on repeat as a child have always felt a certain kinship with this part of the world. I love the culture, the humidity, and most of all the people.
Vassallo: What has been the biggest surprise for you practicing here?
Dr. Annalea Wood: To be honest, I was expecting RECURVE to have a slow start because I practice so differently. But, I have been so impressed with people’s open-mindedness about what I do. I will be forever grateful that so many have been willing to trust me and try something new.
Vassallo: Is your clientele primarily ladies, or why would I think that?
Dr. Annalea Wood: Obviously, being the only female chiropractor in Oxford, I do have a draw for female patients. However, my right now my patient base is nearly equal among men and women. I also see a diverse range of ages all the way from babies to grandparents. Everyone can benefit from the care provided at RECURVE!
Vassallo: Taking a Bette Midler look at your profession, what intrigued you about going in this direction?
Dr. Annalea Wood: I grew up dancing and saw the need. As a young dancer I had pain during what should be a very pain free time of your life. I went to chiropractor on the upper east side of Manhattan at 12 years old. It was life changing. It gave me an early understanding of how manipulating the body to function better was possible. Through chiropractic care I became pain free, less vulnerable to injury, and a better dancer.
Vassallo: Most any profession worthwhile takes considerable
training and education. Describe all that you have gone through in getting to
this point in your career.
Dr. Annalea Wood: Once deciding to become a chiropractor I obtained my Bachelors of Science in Human Biology and then went on to a 4 year doctorate program at Life Chiropractic College West in California’s Bay Area where our last year is spent in an on-site clinic. While achieving my doctorate I was working on a post graduate degree to specialize in Chiropractic Biophysics, to be able to administer this specialized care. Upon completion I worked for the next few years at Symmetry Health Center, one of the premiere structural care facilities in the country before moving to Oxford and opening RECURVE Heath Center in August of 2017.
Vassallo: Why would you say more women are not drawn to the profession?
Dr. Annalea Wood: Historically, it has been more of a boys’ club, but there has been a major shift in the profession in the last few decades. In fact, my graduating class had more females than males.
Vassallo: You and your family have certainly gotten involved in the
community in a huge way (the twins were baptized at St. Peter’s on Sunday).
Did this come easy, that is, being accepted into the society down south?
Dr. Annalea Wood: To say we have felt welcomed is a great understatement. I actually cannot explain how incredibly at home we feel after only living here for a little over a year. The kindness and warmth of this community has been truly overwhelming and we feel so blessed to have found it.
Vassallo: The individuals that you help, what are some of the more common of their ailments?
Dr. Annalea Wood: It is all over the map; from common issues like neck pain, headaches, low back pain, sciatica, nerve impingement, disc bulge, and poor posture. To conditions that seem less relevant to chiropractic care like acid reflux, fatigue, and earaches.
Vassallo: How would you describe Oxford to a family member or
friend who has never seen this “best kept secret” up close?
Dr. Annalea Wood: It’s a place where the “honeymoon phase” never really ends…

Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.