Massage therapy is not something that most people consider medicinal or beneficial. When you hear someone say that they got a massage, you tend to think of a spa atmosphere and the experience of being pampered. While massage and massage therapy are a little different, they do share some commonalities.
Family Chiropractic Plus has determined that massage therapy benefits our patients in many ways, so we proudly offer this service as part of our full line of chiropractic care options!
Benefits of Massage Therapy
We’ll first tell you the benefits of massage as a chiropractic treatment, and then we will dive into the details of how it works.
First, massage therapy speeds up recovery time. Muscles, ligaments and tendons are all affected when you have an injury. Muscles hold on to lactic acid and other compounds after workouts and even after an injury. Massage therapy works to release these chemicals from the muscles. It also keeps the muscles limber so that you do not reinjure the same muscle.
Second, it makes adjustments more tolerable. Depending on your pain tolerance, you may find adjustments to be uncomfortable because of the sudden pressure or moving of specific joints. Therefore, massage has a couple of benefits in this area. It can mentally relax an anxious patient before spinal manipulation, and it can also loosen up the muscles around the spine or any other area that will be adjusted. Many patients find that massage therapy done before their adjustment makes their session more comfortable, and they experience less soreness afterward.
Third, your adjustment will last longer. Muscles and bones work together, so it makes sense that they affect one another when something goes wrong. Tight muscles will sometimes pull bones back out of line after your adjustment. This can sometimes happen within a day or two of your appointment. Massage therapy relaxes the muscles that surround your misaligned vertebrae so that your adjustment lasts longer and you don’t experience the pain or discomfort as soon as you might without massage therapy.
Fourth, the nervous system benefits, too! As a by-product, your nervous system gets a boost during massage therapy as well. Nerve endings all over your body connect at your spine. When you receive massage therapy before your adjustment, these nerves are soothed and activated. This can lower your stress level, preventing further back and neck pain, headaches and high blood pressure.
How It Works
We touched on the physiology of massage therapy above. Let’s look a little closer at how your body can be healed with massage therapy and chiropractic.
It is the chiropractor’s job to manipulate bones that have become misaligned due to injury or normal wear and tear on the body.
Consider this situation: We see a patient in our office who is experiencing back pain that has no discernable cause. This particular patient may be baffled as to the cause of his pain because he hasn’t done any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise, and he hasn’t sustained an injury due to an accident.
In this case, we take an extensive medical history and, more often than not, discover the cause. Passive actions – such as sitting in a chair without proper back support for hours each day – can cause pain in the lower back, upper back and neck. This patient has likely done years of damage to his spine without realizing it. And what’s more, he/she has been putting stress on the muscles around his/her spine as well.
In the scenario above, the patient would be an ideal candidate for massage therapy plus manual adjustments. Pain in the lower back, upper back and neck almost always stem from a combination of joint and muscle issues.
If the joints are inflamed, irritated or not functioning properly, the muscles around them will also experience discomfort. The same is true of a muscle problem. The joints will overcompensate to help the injured or sore muscle, resulting in a misalignment.
What to Expect
We recommend that all of our patients consider using massage therapy in conjunction with their chiropractic care. Below is an idea of what you can expect during a massage therapy session.
Your massage therapist may have you undress to your comfort level, or you may be able to stay fully clothed and still receive the full benefits of your massage session.
He or she will employ many different techniques to soothe your muscles and release tension within them. You may feel rubbing along longer muscles or pressure in certain areas, called trigger points. In some cases, the therapist may also use small, controlled shaking movements to release tension in the connective tissues of the muscles.
Swedish massage is the most commonly used practice for chiropractic because it is a general type of massage that relaxes muscles using all of the methods above. The therapist may use his or her fingers, palms, forearms or elbows to massage certain parts of your back. If you are having pain or numbness in other areas, such as your arms or legs, your massage may also include these body parts. This type of massage is also mentally relaxing for most patients, so it provides maximum benefits before an adjustment.
Deep tissue massage is used for some patients, but not all. It is most beneficial for people who are recovering from an injury and have damage to a specific muscle or muscle group. Our therapists are also trained in sports massage therapy. Athletes are special in their chiropractic and massage therapy needs, and they must be treated accordingly. Sports massage therapy focuses on preventing injury before occurring and also relieving soreness and tightness afterward.
Massage therapy is known to enhance your overall feeling of wellness, manage chronic pain, improve your body’s ability to heal after an injury, and increase range of motion. It stimulates blood flow, which gets oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood moving better through your organs and to your skin. You’ll look and feel better after a massage therapy session!
Now you see why Family Chiropractic Plus believes in the use of massage therapy to compliment your chiropractic services. Call for an appointment today!