Chiropractor or Massage: Which Should I Do First?

Chiropractic care and massage go together like peanut butter and jelly – but figuring out which service you should take advantage of first can be a bit of a nightmare. Some people operate are the impression that chiropractic care and massage can be used in any order whatsoever. And there’s certainly some truth to that.

You aren’t going to notice any debilitating results getting a massage before chiropractic treatments or afterward (or shaking up your schedule, either). At the same time, both massage therapists and chiropractors recognize that there are significant benefits to massage treatment before and after chiropractic therapy. If you’re serious about rehabilitating an injury as quickly as possible (and strengthening your body along the way) you’ll want to get this treatment protocol right.

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The Benefits of Combining Chiropractic Treatment and Massage

Before we dive into this “chicken or the egg” kind of situation, it’s important to highlight the benefits you’ll enjoy from combining chiropractic treatment and massage together. Both of these types of treatments alone are highly effective at helping to realign and restore the natural homeostasis of your body. They are very hands-on, very physical, and can change your physiology – which will inevitably impact your emotional health and mental health, too.

Combining them together, though, targets different areas of the physical body to alleviate stress, wash away the pain, and help rejuvenate injured areas in your back. You see, chiropractic treatments target the areas of stored tension within your back. These kinds of treatments can be a gentle force. The idea is to target the root cause of the injury or pain.

With massage therapy, though, your bones and your joints aren’t targeted directly at all. Instead, pressure points and muscle tissue is targeted primarily, providing a more complete approach that releases stress, eliminates pain, and makes recovery happen a lot faster.

When’s the Best Time for Massage?

Now that we’ve gone over the basic benefits of combining chiropractic therapy and massage, it’s time to dig into the nuts and bolts of when the right time for massage really is.

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Some massage therapists preach that all chiropractic patients should first undergo massage therapy to alleviate tightness, relax the body, and make the spine a lot more receptive to chiropractic protocols.

Moving your muscles, activating pressure points, and releasing stress tied up in knots throughout your body can help your spine naturally release and reposition itself. Some people feel that a big part of their chiropractic success is due to having massage treatments before they visit the chiropractor at all!

These kinds of “before” treatments are usually best-taken advantage of by folks that are particularly tight, are dealing with low mobility issues, or have been dealing with a lot of stress and a lot of pressure that is held captive throughout the body.

Folks that lead “looser” lives without as much stress, without as much tightness, and without as much pressure generally don’t benefit from massages before chiropractic treatment. If you are feeling nervous about your upcoming chiropractic appointment (especially if you haven’t ever undergone this kind of treatment before) it may not be a bad idea to get a massage beforehand.

At the very least you’ll go into the appointment feeling a lot more relaxed (and that’s never a bad thing).


If you ask a chiropractor about when they like their patients to seek out massage therapy, the majority of them say that post chiropractic treatment is the way to go.

Many professional chiropractors believe that a chiropractic realignment has a better chance of “holding” if massage therapy happens after the adjustment has taken place. Some feel that a pre-massage therapy can actually cause the spine to relax and misalign all on its own and that by the time the chiropractor is done they have aligned a spine that would have already fallen back into alignment on its own.

On top of that, endorphin stimulating changes caused by chiropractic treatment inevitably release all kinds of hormones throughout the body. Those hormones feel great in the moment (most people love the way that a chiropractor “cracks their back”), but if these hormones become trapped by tenants muscle tissue they can cause pain and pressure all on their own.

Having a massage therapist work you over following a chiropractic treatment can eliminate those hormonal buildups. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system enjoys a significant boost with this approach.

On top of that, the overall results of both the chiropractic treatment and massage therapy are much longer-lasting when massages are performed after the chiropractic alignment. Extending the relief you get from a world-class massage and a chiropractic alignment is a huge benefit and a big part of why so many people like to schedule these kinds of appointments after the chiropractor.

Long Term Relief Protocols That Work

Twin Waves Wellness Team

At the end of the day, though, there is no real hard and fast rule about whether or not you should pursue massage therapy before or after a visit to the chiropractor. Some people have great results with pre-procedure action. Others see tremendous improvements following their chiropractic alignment. And of course, you have a whole separate group that likes to shake things up every now and again, sometimes having massages before the chiropractor visit and sometimes afterward.

When you get right down to it, the important thing is to really combine these two solutions together for maximum effect. It may be a good idea to schedule a massage therapy treatment before your first chiropractic appointment (with the green light from your chiropractor, after all) and then an appointment after your second alignment to compare the results yourself. That’s a surefire way to determine how you should be scheduling these kinds of treatments in the future.

As always, this is something that you’ll want to bounce off of your massage therapist and your chiropractor (maybe even getting them to speak to one another about how best to move forward). They’ll be able to point you in the right direction! Click here to learn more about chiropractors in Solana Beach.

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