What’s the Difference Between Massage Therapy & Chiropractic Care?

What’s the Difference Between Massage Therapy & Chiropractic Care?

Massage therapy and chiropractic care are both hands-on forms of treatment that provide the benefits of manual manipulation to patients and clients. For this reason, it is not unusual for people to believe that the two are very similar, and in some cases, even interchangeable.

The truth is, however, that this is not the case. Massage therapy and chiropractic care can provide similar—but different—benefits, and are utilized to create distinct outcomes in the body.

What is the purpose of massage therapy?

Massage therapy has many purposes and applications. It is a hands-on treatment that involves intentional movements against the body through the skin.

These movements are designed to stimulate or relax the area of the body being treated, although in some forms of massage (like acupressure), an effect may be seen in another area of the body other than the one which is receiving treatment.

The main systems of the body that massage therapy affects are the circulatory, immune, muscular, and endocrine systems.

Circulatory & Immune Systems

The circulatory system is responsible for transporting cellular nutrients and waste around the body. Nutrients that the circulatory system moves through the body include beneficial body-building compounds (vitamins and minerals) and energy (carbohydrates, protein, and fats). The circulatory system also moves oxygen and hormones throughout the body, both of which control the body’s ability to function properly.

Similarly to the circulatory system, the immune system (which is largely made up of the lymphatic system) also transports waste products out of the body.

Because both of these systems are both defined by their quality of “movement,” they are particularly affected by massage therapy. The manual manipulation that occurs as a result of massage helps to increase the movement in the circulatory and immune systems, stimulating the transportation of both nutrients and cellular waste.

Muscular System

The muscular system is responsible for “movement” in the human body, also, but in a completely different way.

While the circulatory system and the immune system create movement within the body on a cellular level, the muscular system creates movement of the entire body’s mass in a physical and external way.

The muscular system allows you to engage in physical activity. It helps hold together the skeletal structure, joints, tendons, tissues, and bones. The muscular system receives signals from the nervous system about how to move.

Because massage is a form of touch therapy, the musculature of the body is directly affected. When the body is massaged, all of the local muscles in the area are stimulated or relaxed, depending on the form of massage being practiced. Massage therapy can help to reduce knots and tension in the muscles, increase performance of the muscles, and reduce soreness and pain from injury or use.

Endocrine System

The endocrine system is responsible for the production and distribution of hormones in the body. Hormones are chemicals that deliver instructions for certain automatic functions—for example, release of the hormone adrenaline (epinephrine) tells the body to prepare for action by increasing carbohydrates in the bloodstream and increasing the heart rate.

Massage therapy indirectly affects the endocrine system by encouraging relaxation and balance. When the body is relaxed through touch therapy, this helps any “excited” systems to calm down, allowing them to function more normally.

Over time, consistent massage therapy can produce long-term regulating and relaxing effects on the endocrine system, helping the body to produce less stress-inducing hormones.

What is the purpose of chiropractic care?

The purpose of chiropractic care is to realign and rebalance the skeletal structure of the body, while also supporting health across the entire body. Because the skeletal system is the fundamental support of the body, making adjustments to its health helps every other bodily system.

The main systems that are affected by chiropractic care are the skeletal, immune, nervous, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Chiropractic care focuses primarily on the neuromusculoskeletal system, which comprises the nervous system, the muscular system, and the skeletal system. These three major systems of the body connect to the function of the immune system, circulatory system, and respiratory system.

Below is the effect of chiropractic care on the following systems:

Skeletal System

  • Corrects the spinal structure, including the bones and joints
  • Addresses pain and injury in wrists, knees, ankles, feet, hands, and neck
  • Restores mobility and vitality to the joints and surrounding tissues

Muscular System

  • Releases knots and tension in the muscles of the body
  • Rehabilitates long-term muscular strain or areas that have been “thrown out”

Nervous System

  • Allows nerve energy to flow through the body uninterrupted
  • Restores nerve function and reduces compression and pinched nerves
  • Minimizes or eliminates sciatic pain (and other similar nerve pain)

Immune System

  • Boosts function of the lymphatic system
  • Helps transports waste and cellular debris out of the body
  • Improves immune system’s ability to defend against foreign intruders like bacteria, viruses, and fungi

Circulatory System

  • Enhances efficiency of the heart and helps to regulate rate and rhythm
  • Improves circulation to extremities of the body
  • Reduces and eliminates numbness and tingling

Respiratory System

  • Increase oxygen levels in the body
  • Removes pressure on the lungs caused by misalignment

When might you see a massage therapist?

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort that you believe is caused by your muscular system, a massage therapist may be able to help.

Massage therapists deliver direct pressure to the muscles of the body, and can help reduce knots, pain, and pressure occurring in the muscles of the body. Additionally, massage therapy can help to regulate hormone production and improve circulation and immune function.

If you’re seeking relaxation, immune support, or improved circulation, massage therapy can help.

When might you see a chiropractor?

If you are experiencing chronic pain and discomfort that is affecting your entire body, a chiropractor can help determine and alleviate the root cause of the pain.

Chiropractic care delivers long-term results and can help move past the muscular system to address the underlying imbalances in the skeletal system. When the skeletal system (comprising bones and joints) is restored to optimal function, the other systems in the body are also improved.

In addition to treating neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and other imbalances, chiropractic care can help to correct posture, help recovery and rehabilitation after an accident or injury, and help improve overall wellness and vitality.

If you’re ready to experience the transformational effects of chiropractic care, and you live in or near Grand Rapids, MI, Advanced Spine & Posture is prepared to offer you expert wellness care. Book your appointment today!

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