Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy go hand in hand when it comes to restoring mobility, alleviating pain, and just helping increase overall health. Utilizing both of these therapies together can make a significant difference in the overall results of the appointment and can benefit the patient in multiple ways. Massage targets the musculoskeletal structure such as soft tissues, fascia, muscles, and tendons whereas chiropractic care targets more of the musculoskeletal structure, the nervous system, and harder tissues such as scar tissue. When these are executed together the result for the patient is far more superior than when you receive just one or the other.
Massage therapy focuses on muscles, tendons, soft-tissue, and ligaments by bringing blood flow to the tissues that ultimately relaxes them. To accomplish that the massage therapist uses a wide range of techniques to get restricted and tight areas to loosen up. It can alleviate pain, increase range of motion, decrease risk of injury, and even boost your athletic or daily performance.
Massage helps increase blood flow which helps bring oxygen to the areas that have tension and are lacking such essential nutrients in order to recover properly. Often times muscles become deoxygenated due to the lack of blood flow, and this causes a bruising feeling around the muscles and tissues. Massage can help restore the blood flow and begin the proper recovery process for those muscles and tissues. After a few treatments that “bruise” feeling should begin to disappear! Overall the massage or bodywork should leave you feeling less tense and rejuvenated from the manual therapy.
Chiropractic care focuses on the movement of the various joints of the body most often the spinal joints. Chiropractic adjustments are small movements done by hand or in some cases by an instrument that quickly move the targeted joint a very small amount. Sometimes an adjustment is accompanied by a small ‘pop’.
An effective adjustment will free up restricted joint motion, decrease pain, normalize movement and help restore normal function to the affected area.
I get a lot of patients who wonder what exactly massage does that compliments the chiropractic adjustment. Not that they don’t want either therapy, but they want to understand why it’s important to do both and make them both apart of their treatment plan. Massage, as we stated, helps relax the musculoskeletal structure. Sometimes what happens is tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or a combination of all of them get very restricted.
When this restriction happens in these areas, they hug and restrict not just the muscle and tissue, but it also pulls tension on the skeletal structure too. So if the restriction is happening anywhere near the spine which tends to be a high tension area, the muscles or tissues can be pulled so tight that the chiropractor can’t get a certain area to adjust. If something like this happens and an adjustment just can’t be reached for some reason try massage and chiropractic care together. This will most likely help relax and loosen the restrictions and allow for a more proper adjustment. Massage also can make the adjustment less intense for those who are very sore or have hypersensitivity in certain regions.
To some people, it may seem like forever, but once you finally break the repetitive pain cycle, and begin to reach a level of relief you are happy with make sure to maintain this bliss and not to forget about the progress made. Once some people make it past the chronic pain stage, and they begin to see the improvement they either slow down treatment, or they don’t continue treatment at all. It is very important that once you start seeing the finish line that you continue to take necessary steps to maintain this new level of function. Improvement is always something to celebrate, but if you don’t finish out treatment or maintain your body once you’ve found relief, then you could find yourself back in the same injury. Be sure to finish out the treatment plan that the doctor has put in place for you, and once you have finally found relief it is important to continue to come in for maintenance work.
Like any fine toned machine every now and then it’ll need maintenance. Keeping up with your body once you finally reach your pain-free goal is almost as important as coming in for an initial visit. Especially if you want to keep old injuries away and help prevent new from popping up. Continuing chiropractic care and massage together can help achieve your pain-free goal and help you control your life as you continue on your wellness journey!
• References: Furlan AD, Imamura M, Dryden T, et al. Massage for low-back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008;(4):CD001929 [edited 2010]. Accessed at www.thecochranelibrary.com on January 2, 2014.
• Perlman AI, Ali A, Njike VY, et al. Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30248.
• Chou R, Qaseem A, Snow V, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2007;147(7):478–491
• Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, StussmanBJ, Weber WJ. Evidence-based evaluation of complementary health approaches for pain management in the United States.(link is external) Mayo Clinic Proceedings. September 2016;91(9):1292–1306.