Massage and chiropractic are complementary disciplines, fitting together like hand in glove—perhaps more like two well-trained hands on an aching back.

All too often, in our quick-fix society, patients and the health professionals treating them latch onto a single treatment for an ailment or condition, to the exclusion of others that might further enhance the patient’s well-being. Similarly, individuals frequently categorize treatment practices, choosing the one de facto “cure” that seems to fit the situation.

Upset stomach? Antacid.
Crick in the neck? Chiropractic.
Sore muscles? Massage.

What many individuals overlook in the rush to eliminate the immediate pain is a holistic examination of the problem. If an upset stomach is caused by poor culinary choices, some fizzy water is just a temporary fix. And if improper posture or ill-fitting footwear isn’t corrected, that neck crick will soon return.

The long-term solution is a commitment to overall wellness. The key to healthy living, wellness is a comprehensive approach to care that focuses on the body’s natural ability to heal itself when properly maintained and protected.

I firmly believe massage and chiropractic treatment are key components to wellness. So much so, that I am both a chiropractor and massage therapist.

This is a career combination that is growing in popularity. That’s especially true at Parker College of Chiropractic. As a licensed massage therapist and a graduate of Parker College, I am currently the coordinator at the Parker School of Massage Therapy. Parker College is also the first chiropractic college to offer students a Bachelor of Science degree in health and wellness.

Offering massage therapy education at a school of chiropractic makes good sense. My training and experience has shown me that these disciplines are often the most beneficial when used in conjunction.

Here are some examples of why chiropractic and massage are so connected:

  • Massage extends the benefits of a chiropractic adjustment. Nearly every patient I have had that has received a massage either pre- or post-chiropractic adjustment has experienced a decrease in muscle tension, an increase in flexibility and longer sustained benefits from the adjustment.
  • Chiropractic adjustment extends the benefits of a massage. When a patient receives a massage without an adjustment, they often incur repeat visits with similar complaints due to only temporarily relief of symptoms.
  • Massage and chiropractic both touch components of the skeletal system. Chiropractors deal with the nervous system, which includes aligning the vertebral column as well as all of the other joints of the body. Massage therapists deal mainly with the musculoskeletal system. So, in general, chiropractors deal more with the nervous and skeletal systems, whereas massage therapists deal mainly with the muscular and skeletal system.

You can see why Parker College was eager to formally add massage training to the school’s curriculum with the opening of the School of Massage Therapy in 2007. We’re focused on giving scholars the opportunity to learn various massages techniques, which are incorporated into a natural health and wellness model.

Beyond its anecdotal benefits, massage therapy has been proven to be advantageous through clinical research studies. In our curriculum, we include the University of Miami’s Touch Research Center studies examining massage in the context of stress hormone levels. Results indicate that the post-massage reduction of stress hormones circulating through the body is quite dramatic when compared to pre-massage levels.

Other research quantifies the positive impact of massage on the circulatory system. Circulation of blood, lymph and interstitial fluids is critical to the natural homeostasis throughout the body, as well as its ability to heal and regenerate. Improvement in circulation has a cascade of benefits involving every system of the body.

Just as chiropractors are learning the benefits of massage, I urge massage therapists to gain an appreciation for the complementary benefits of chiropractic.

At Parker College, we teach students that if you take care of the body, the body will take care of you. As such, chiropractic is “bigger than bones.” We practice chiropractic wellness, a holistic approach to health that focuses on the body’s natural ability to heal itself when properly maintained and protected.

Further, we advocate that chiropractic is a safe and effective component of an overall wellness plan. We encourage patients to take steps—including chiropractic—to seek out and benefit from nonprescriptive relief.

While chiropractic and massage therapy offer considerable benefits individually, they are better together. And an ever-increasing number of pain-free patients can attest to that fact.

Dr. Drew RiffeDrew Riffe, D.C., M.T., is a licensed massage therapist and a 2004 graduate of Parker College of Chiropractic. Since graduation, Dr. Riffe has operated a private practice, continued teaching and become the coordinator at the Parker School of Massage Therapy.