Therapeutic massages: the pros and cons in chiropractic care

Chiropractic treatment isn’t just about spinal manipulations and adjustments. Chiropractors employ several complementary therapies to support the main treatment plan, according to your specific injuries. These additional therapies include nutritional counseling, physical therapy, lifestyle modification advice, and therapeutic massages.

What is a therapeutic massage?

In chiropractic care, a therapeutic massage is similar to the kind of massage you’d get at a specialist spa. But while most spa massages are simply designed to help you relax, various types of therapeutic massage will help you with your specific problem.

Here are some of the things therapeutic massages can do:

  • Reduce stress and promote relaxation. Massage therapy reduces your cortisol levels, allowing your body to recover faster and improving your immune system.
  • Lower your blood pressure. Regular therapeutic massages have been proven to lower blood pressure levels.
  • Encourage your muscles to relax. During a therapeutic massage, your muscles become less tense, helping your body to become more flexible and your circulation to improve. This increases your endorphin and serotonin levels while reducing swelling and stiffness.
  • Improve your posture. Tense muscles pull on different body parts, resulting in poor posture. Massage therapy reduces tension, alleviating physical stress and enhancing your posture.

Types of therapeutic massage

Therapeutic massage focuses on soft tissue release and manipulation, with the goal of helping you achieve optimum physical wellness levels. Each massage is designed with you, your injury, and your needs in mind. To help treat your unique condition, your chiropractor will often use a combination of therapeutic massages to get the best result. 

Here are some of the most common types of massage therapies, along with their pros and cons:

Swedish massage

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are several differences between Swedish massages and deep tissue massages. The primary differences involve pressure, technique, intended use, and areas of focus.

A Swedish massage is the most common type of massage that’s used to loosen up tight muscles. It can be incredibly beneficial for people who carry a lot of tension in their lower back, shoulders, and neck.

Your chiropractor will work on your whole body, while paying particular attention to your area of concern. You’ll begin on your front or back and flip over halfway through the massage. They’ll use a combination of kneading, percussion, vibration, tapping, and rolling actions with lotion or massage oil during your session.


  • Improves blood circulation to your heart
  • May reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Stimulates nerves to help you manage pain and discomfort


  • Muscle ache or fatigue
  • Short-term headache or migraine
  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Moderate inflammation

Deep tissue massage

A deep tissue massage works by lengthening and relaxing your deep tissues. It’s an effective way of increasing your range of motion and helping you to manage pain and discomfort. This type of therapeutic massage is one of the best ways to treat chronic back pain and sports injuries.

Your chiropractor will ask you to lie on your side or front on the massage table. They’ll start by using light pressure to warm up your muscles before applying deep pressure with their elbows, arms, and hands on the problem area.


  • Reduces pain caused by muscle cramps
  • Improves your body’s chemical balance to improve your mood
  • Speeds up recovery from injuries
  • May treat sciatica and plantar fasciitis


  • Can cause pain during treatment
  • Most suited to specific, localized injuries
  • Appointments can be time-consuming
  • May be unsuitable if you have a hernia, nerve injury, or blood clotting disorder

Lymphatic drainage

Lymphatic drainage uses manual massage therapy to encourage built-up lymph fluid to travel through the lymphatic system. This can help your body maintain proper blood circulation and body fluid balance, as well as strengthen your immune system.

It works by gently manipulating certain parts of your body to help improve lymph fluid flow. Your chiropractor will use various techniques, including burying motions, gliding, compressing, and stretching to release trapped fluid.


  • Improves swelling caused by lymphedema
  • Eases the symptoms of later-stage rheumatoid arthritis
  • Increases blood flow to improve leg mobility for chronic venous insufficiency
  • Reduces inflammation of skin nerves for people with fibromyalgia


  • Not recommended if you have an infection, blood clots, kidney failure, or a heart condition
  • You may experience nausea after treatment
  • Fatigue or sleepiness

Assisted stretching

Assisted stretching is a combination of stretching and massage. While you relax on the massage table, your chiropractor will move and stretch your muscles for you. This allows your body to move in ways it can’t on your own.

This form of therapeutic massage is an effective way to relieve general aches and pains. It can also increase oxygen and blood flow to encourage your body to perform better, while also increasing your range of motion and flexibility. 


  • Reduces muscle tightness to decrease pain
  • Lowers your stress levels
  • Helps you become more flexible
  • Improves your athletic performance


  • May experience slight discomfort during treatment
  • Sustain possible injuries if you’re over-stretched
  • Doesn’t provide relief for serious injuries

Pros vs. cons

There are benefits and disadvantages of each type of therapeutic massage. Some variations are best for specific injuries in certain parts of the body, while other types are best suited to general all-over aches and pains. When you visit a chiropractor, you don’t need to worry about the pros and cons of each type of massage yourself. They’ve got the knowledge, experience, and qualifications they need to decide on the best massages to treat your condition.

If you’re concerned about the advantages and disadvantages of any type of massage therapy, talk to your chiropractor. They’ll be able to provide you with all the information you need to put your mind at ease. They can answer all your questions and be honest about the results you can expect, as well as the side effects you may run into.

Book your first therapeutic massage today

Therapeutic massages can provide immediate relief for various injuries and prevent minor damage from developing into a chronic illness. Through regular therapeutic massages, you can also improve your overall wellness and maintain your optimum health levels. 

If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort following an injury or want to improve your general health, make your first appointment today. We have chiropractic clinics throughout Oregon and Washington led by qualified chiropractors with years of experience treating severe injuries, as well as general aches and pains. However big or small you think your problem is, we can help relieve your discomfort and help you resume a happy, healthy life.