Often, when people think of massage the first thing that comes to mind is relaxation and serenity.While massage does provide this, massage is and can be so much more. The definition of massage therapy is the intentional and systematic manipulation of the soft tissue of the body to enhance health and healing.What most people dont know is that the power of therapeutic massage is compounded when combined with other types of therapy, or modalities.This idea is the essence of complementary therapymassage works most effectively when it is used with other modalities such as chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, nutritional consulting, bioelectromagnetics (magnet therapy) and physical therapy.
A great example of complementary therapy is when massage is combined with chiropractic care. With chiropractic care the doctor is working on the structural components of the body such as the spine; while massage is concentrating on the soft tissue such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia (fascia is the connective tissue that connects the entire body from head to toe). The goal of both massage and chiropractic care is to facilitate the natural healing processes by keeping the body in proper alignment to ensure a free flow of nerve impulses and circulation of fluids.
There is a symbiotic relationship between the two therapies. Massage increases the effectiveness of the chiropractic adjustments, aids in preparing the body for chiropractic adjustments and helps relieve pain in muscles and soft tissue. Massage combined with stretching is very effective in regaining and maintaining proper alignment and posture by resetting the proper resting of muscles.It is also important to exercise and strengthen weak muscles to ensure posture and alignments are held correctly.
Massage may also be used to address some of the muscular problems that bring patients in for chiropractic adjustments, such as nerve constriction due to tight muscles, poor circulation, trigger points, damaged tissues, fibromyalgia, and the pain-spasm-pain cycle.
With complementary therapy, the client, chiropractor and massage therapist work together to design a program that creates the best solution for the client. For example, some clients may have better results if they have the massage before chiropractic treatment, which helps relieve muscle tension and warms up soft tissues in the area, making joints more pliable and more easily adjusted. In addition to preparing the immediate area of concern, it helps the client relax and become more receptive to other hands-on treatments.
Alternatively, some clients find massage to be more beneficial after they have had an adjustment. The bottom line is, when it comes to relieving chronic pain and muscular dysfunction, massage and chiropractic care complement each other to produce a synergistic effect, where the end result is greater than the benefit provided by each of the two alone.
The extreme benefits of complementary therapy cause us to beg the question, does massage therapy work alone? Although massage by itself does provide some benefits, such as relaxation and stress relief, is far less effective as a healing tool than when combined in a complementary therapy program.Also critical to healing is continued therapy; although a single massage is thoroughly enjoyable, the effects of massage are cumulative and regular treatments are more beneficial to health and chronic pain issues.