How many of you have asked another doctor this same question ‘Is it better to get a massage or adjustment first?’ and the doctor replies “oh, it doesn’t really matter. Either is fine! *big smile*”.
Well that is wrong! It does matter and here is why!
I utilize 8 LMTs in my large office. Massage is so important. We do pattern assessment to find the combination of locked joints by removing the restrictions so the muscles do not have to compensate and over work due to improper moving joints. If we adjust you and correct the movement prior to you getting your massage the LMT can do 10 times the amount of therapeutic massage!
IF you get a massage first, it may relax a nervous patient who doesn’t like adjustments and that might make it easier to adjust for the chiropractor. But we really don’t think that is necessary for us at our clinic. We don’t need you to be easier to adjust because we are very exceptional adjusters. Most people who experience massage don’t have their underlying abnormal joint motion fixed first which creates a limitation for the massage therapist. Then they usually blame the massage therapist for the massage not feeling good.
This is miseducation on the patient’s part. I’m not saying there aren’t bad massage therapists out there, but that’s not what i’m talking about here. Let me give you an example with a story. I had a patient with a spasming lower back. She read on the internet to stretch and massage the psoas. When she got to my office, my advanced medical massage therapist told her she cannot massage the psoas because it is holding her lower back together and it would make the her lower back pain worse. The massage therapist instead performed a better treatment by working on making the compensation muscles more flexible. The patient did not understand this and complained to me about her. She demanded the LMT do what she asked. This patient has more than an lower back problem, she wasn’t listening to what her body was telling her nor was she listening to medical professionals. I know she’s in trouble today, most likely surgery.
The moral of the story is… if you listen to knowledgeable and healthy providers–they can help you. But it requires learning why your body does what it does and not trying to change it. In an ideal massage experience where you are well adjusted–the LMT can work on balances, remove stress, work on postural patterns, and add layers of treatment by getting to the inner middle & outer layers of the muscles rather than symptom patch care (massaging the spot that feels painful). Simply speaking, this is how medical massage differs from your typical spa massage. It targets the root cause of your pain which is not always the area that is radiating pain (the biggest misleading factor). More medical knowledge is applied by understanding what is causing the problems. If you want patch relief, your local spa is a much better option.
Our patients who successfully finish their treatment plans graduate to a healthy state. They still get their check ups and their routine monthly massage while the therapist gets to work on all the muscles, scar tissue, trigger points, and release stress that is stored in there that created those issues. Since the patient isn’t compensating now, there isn’t new problems to constantly work on so the therapist can actually collectively get the muscle system working with the adjustments to make muscle and joints stronger.
I have been doing this personally for ten years now and feel amazing. I can do 10 hours a day of sports workouts, heavy lifting, or major physically demanding work including 20 hour flights etc. at age 37. Not too many people can still say they feel great after activity like that at my age.