Types of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is often incorporated into traditional medicine, as well as chiropractic offices. It can provide a beneficial adjunct to a patient’s spinal manipulation and holistic care. Massage therapy is widely considered to be an alternative medicine.
There are many types of massage therapy. One type, Swedish Massage, is the most commonly used technique in the United States. Therapists use kneading, circular motions, and “long smooth strokes”, with lotion or oil, on “superficial layers of muscle”. Aromatherapy Massage includes essential scented plant oils to help the client feel energized or relaxed, or for balancing and stress-reduction. Hot Stone Massage incorporates the used of heated stones on certain body points. It is a lighter massage for muscle tension. In Deep Tissue Massage, the therapist targets deep muscles with slower strokes and friction. Shiatsu is a Japanese massage that uses “finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence”. Thai massage also “aligns the energies of the body” with pressure points, stretches, and compressions. The therapist in this type of massage stretches the client into a “sequence of postures…like yoga”.
Pregnant women can also have a special type of massage, with modified positions and techniques. A type of foot massage is Reflexology, which involves pressure points that match up to organ systems in the body. Sports Massage is for any physically active person, and it includes faster strokes than Swedish massage and “facilitated stretching” to increase flexibility. The massage therapist will recommend and perform the massage that is best for the patient’s injury and condition. Additionally, a patient does not need to be injured to visit a massage therapist. The experience is very relaxing and a great way to assist the body in flushing out toxins and relieve stress.1
Training for Massage Therapists
Training for therapists of massage varies. 37 states have laws about massage licensing, and some cities have individual requirements. Legal minimum education “can range from 330 to 1000 contact hours”, and the education might require weeks to two years. It is important to note that in states that have no requirements, some practitioners of massage can have no training. This is only a matter in the minority of the states. Massage therapy is mostly a well-regulated practice, and patients should research the local laws and requirements for therapists of massage before seeking out treatment from one in their area. The patient may perform the same research to find the best chiropractor in the area for their needs.2
Massage therapists can practice in public and private locations, including hospitals, offices, spas, and even shopping malls. Typically, they have a “postsecondary non-degree award”.3 There are some rigorous training programs available to massage therapists. The National Holistic Institute, for example, has a “Core 900 Hour” curriculum and offers an “Advanced 450 Hour” program as well.4 Their program is nationally accredited. “The accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment as to the quality of …program(s) offered, and to encourage continual improvement.”5 Because of the various state requirements, some massage therapists may have significantly more training than others. Illinois, for example, requires 500 hours of training and an “approved certifying exam” with 24 hours of biennial maintenance.6
Massage in Chiropractic Offices
Some massage therapists opt to work in chiropractic offices. This provides a partnership that can benefit both types of practitioner, each helping the other to build and treat their clientele. Massage therapy can be an excellent complement to spinal manipulation therapy. Many physical ailments may be treated through massage or chiropractic care, but the combination of the two is often the best solution. Some chiropractic offices offer therapeutic and relaxation massage. Carson Chiropractic, in Illinois, has highly trained, licensed massage therapists in its practice, who focus on “trigger point, therapeutic and deep-tissue massage therapy…[and are] trained in pregnancy massage”. The practice believes “strongly in the positive benefits of massage therapy…when paired with chiropractic care”.7
The effectiveness of massage therapy, before or after chiropractic care, varies by the patient and their needs. Massage performed prior to a chiropractic adjustment might help prevent spasms and make vertebrae move more easily during adjustment. Massage performed after a chiropractic adjustment could aid in the softening of the muscles and help the adjusted areas of the body stay in their new position longer.
The patient may ask their chiropractor and massage therapist for a recommendation in this matter, whether the practitioners work in separate offices or work together in the same office. Either way, massage is used to help chiropractic care ease the muscles into a better position, as muscles often start to contract into new, unhealthy shapes when the body is consistently left out of alignment for a long time. Massage complements chiropractic care very well, both working to improve the body’s ability to heal faster, more efficiently, and safely.8
Find out more about massage therapy schools and training.