Massage Complements Chiropractic Care

Therapeutic Massage is one of the best compliments to chiropractic care.  Because muscles are attached to bones and joints it is very important for them to be relaxed and stretched to aid in adjustments to the skeletal system.  Proper alignment helps to ensure the free flow of nerve impulses and circulation of blood and lymph.

Some Benefits of Massage with Chiropractic Care:
–Helps prepare the body for better adjustments
–It increases the effectiveness of treatments
–Relieves muscle tension and pain
–Helps prevent future pain and injuries
–Helps you relax overall and become more receptive to the adjustments needed

I highly recommend regular massage with chiropractic care.  If your chiropractor does not provide massage therapy in his/her office then consider getting 30 to 60 min massage sessions on the areas needed along with your adjustments.  If you receive massage but need a chiropractor I highly recommend either of the offices I work at.

Peak  Performance Chiropractic

4250 E. Beltline NE Ste. 3, Grand Rapids, MI 49525, 616 447-9888


6750 Kalamazoo Ave. Ste. K, Grand Rapids, MI 59508, 616 656-1830

 Most insurance companies do cover chiropractic care in some form and many cover massage therapy as well for an alternative therapy.  In most cases you would just pay your co-pay while other plans will pay a percentage of the cost.  If you have good insurance then take advantage of it and improve your health.

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Massage can help symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

In addition to its tragic impact on voluntary motor skills, Parkinson’s disease typically causes muscle stiffness and rigidity. Learn how bodywork can alleviate the symptoms of this increasingly common central nervous system disorder.

Parkinson’s disease, also called Parkinsonism, is a fairly common progressive degenerative central nervous system (CNS) disorder. Affecting about one in 1,000 people in the U.S., Parkinson’s disease is a dysfunction in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that controls voluntary movement. Characteristic symptoms of this chronic, progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder include tremors, rigidity, slow movement (bradykinesia), poor balance and difficulty walking (called parkinsonian gait).

Parkinsonism results from the degeneration of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that stimulates motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscles. When dopamine production is depleted, the motor system nerves are unable to control movement and coordination. People with Parkinson’s disease have lost 80% or more of their dopamine-producing cells by the time symptoms appear. While symptoms may appear at any age, the average age of onset is 60 years old.
In addition to not knowing the cause, there is also no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Western medical treatment centers on the administration of medication to relieve symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved a surgically implanted device that lessens tremors. Medication for Parkinson’s disease is a process of experimentation and patience, as its selection and dosage must be individually tailored. As the disease progresses, medications and their dosages will likely require modification.

Massage Therapy
The benefits of massage therapy have long been recognized by people with Parkinson’s disease. Because Parkinson’s disease typically causes muscle stiffness and rigidity, bodywork’s ability to alleviate joint and muscle stiffness makes it a logical choice. As long as the client has sensation in the area being worked on, it is safe for bodywork. Communicating with a client throughout a bodywork session will ensure a positive experience. However, before working with a Parkinson’s client, bodyworkers must understand the following:

· Parkinson’s disease is a CNS dysfunction, and will not be completely resolved with bodywork alone.

· Work in cooperation with a client’s primary physician, as massage may impact the need for antidepressants and other medication.

· Since uncontrolled movement is characteristic of this disease, getting on and off a massage table may pose safety issues. Bodyworkers must predict this with Parkinson’s clients and either improvise or take extra cautionary measures to ensure the client’s safety.

According to a 2002 study conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, along with staff from the university’s neurology department and Duke University’s pharmacology department, Parkinson’s disease symptoms are reduced by massage therapy. In this study, the group of adults with Parkinson’s disease who received two massages a week for five weeks experienced improved daily functioning, increased quality of sleep and decreased stress-hormone levels. The massage consisted of 15 minutes in the prone position, focusing on the back, buttocks, ribs, thighs, calves and feet; and 15 minutes in the supine position, focusing on the thighs, lower legs, feet, hands, forearms, upper arms, neck, face and head. The study’s authors reported, “These findings suggest that massage therapy enhances functioning in progressive or degenerative central nervous system disorders or conditions.”

While several different massage modalities have been quantifiably researched in the context of Parkinsonism, including Trager, Alexander Technique and Swedish massage, all modalities report improvement in function, from the reduction of rigidity and improvement of sleep, to the reduction of tremor and increase of daily activity stamina.

Don’t be afraid of working with clients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The pathology of this condition and the success reported with massage therapy make physical manipulation of the musculoskeletal system an ideal Parkinsonism management component. Being familiar with this disease and welcoming those affected can bring an enormous amount of satisfaction to any compassionate bodyworker.


Massage Reduces Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Massage Magazine, January/February 2003.

Slavin, John, PhD, LMT, Massage and Parkinson’s Disease: A Few Lessons Learned, Massage Today, October 2006.

Werner, Ruth, LMP, NCTMB, Parkinsonism, Massage Today, March 2005., Definition of basal ganglia, MedicineNet, Inc., 2006., Parkinson’s Disease,, Inc., 206., Complementary Therapies and Parkinson’s disease, Melanie M. Brandabur, MD, Jill Marjama-Lyons, MD, The National Parkinson Foundation, Inc., 1994.

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Massage for Chronic Headache

Millions of people around the world suffer from chronic headache, and I am one of them. Fortunately, I have found therapies that allow me to cope with this condition and ease my suffering. One of the major treatments I rely on is regular massage therapy.  Chronic headache is often caused by muscular tension or vascular swelling and constriction. Massage relaxes the muscles, muscle spasms are relieved and blood circulation is normalized. This, in turn, frees up the blood vessels and brings down swelling.

Chronic headache can occur for about 15 days in every month, staying several days in a row. It is important to ask for a medical work up to rule out any other underlying medical condition that may be causing it. Knowing that what you have is simply chronic headache will in itself give great relief.

Massage can provide headache relief and decrease the length of time your tension headache lasts. My husband suffers from tension headaches. He used to suffer from them quite regularly, but now only gets them occasionally. He’s found that deep tissue massage to the neck and shoulders when he feels a headache coming on will give him headache relief. He’s also found that drinking plenty of water helps.

You’re probably thinking, “That’s great for him, he’s married to a massage therapist.” My husband gets headache relief by massaging himself. I’m often too busy or tired to be bothered with massaging him whenever he feels a tension headache coming on. I’m not a terrible wife, he just used to get a lot of tension headaches. I taught him about self massage and he’s able to take care of the problem himself.

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Improve Posture & Reduce Chronic Pain with Massage Therapy

Posture is the way we carry our body. On a person with good posture, a line can be drawn along the side of the body, starting at the ear, going through the shoulder joint, hip joint, knee joint, and ending just in front of the ankle. If something is out of line, individuals could suffering from poor posture and a number of other health issues. Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) can get you back in line and prevent debilitating pain from taking hold.

Signs & Symptoms of Poor Posture:

Visible: rounded or uneven shoulder slouching, forward or tilted head, extended stomach, hyper-extended knees, scoliosis, upper back “hump”, rotated or unleveled hips, feet angled inwards or outwards, knocked knees or bow-legged.

Physical: headache, backache, muscle fatigue, painful joints, poor gait, decreased range of motion, increased tension, muscle imbalance, sleep disturbances or arthritis.

Common Causes:
Head-forward Posture is the most common cause. Think about it: The average head weighs 10 pounds. For every inch that your head moves forward out of proper alignment, gravity adds an additional 10 pounds. That is a lot of strain on your over-worked neck muscles.

Other causes for poor posture include: Low back sway, slouching, high-heel shoes, flat feet, fallen arches, scoliosis, a muscle imbalance, a previous injury, pregnancy, muscle weakness, asthma and other respiratory problems.

Treatment: RMTs develop unique treatment programs depending on the posture problems. Most treatments include a combination of Massage Therapy, posture correction, therapeutic exercises, hydrotherapy and self-awareness training to help patients improve posture in all aspects of their lives.

Benefits: People with good posture enjoy a balanced body, a wider range of motion, fuller breaths and feel less pain and tension. After treatments, Massage Therapy patients generally look and feel better.

Information courtesy of the Massage Therapists’ Association of BC

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Massage for the Body and Mind

Sand Art by Joe Mangrum

Massage therapy is most often viewed as a means of reducing stress and promoting health. Little mention is made of its benefit to psychological well-being and healthy relationships. The impact of massage on this aspect of personal well-being should not be overlooked, as it is a key to a life that is well-balance. When we are out of sync with ourselves, we are out of sync with our friends and loved ones as well. Massage can be a tremendous tool for promoting psychological wellness.

Even Freud, the father of modern psychology recognized the benefits of massage therapy for mental health and wellness. He recognized that massage helped his patients relax and open up more easily in therapy. He saw the value of massage for use with his patients who were experiencing sexual problems, and used it to help them overcome their issues.

Wilhelm Reich, one of Freud’s students began to pay attention to his patient’s body posture and facial expressions, using them as guides to their subconscious. He began to understand that our body operated as a shield that helped us function in the world, even if it was not effectively functioning. He called it “armouring” and viewed such bottling-up of emotions as detrimental to one’s health. He believed it led to depression and other mental and physical illness. He too began to incorporate the use of massage in his therapy to help his patients relax and open up. It saw it as a way to assist his patients to begin to remove their “armour” and allow the full expression of feeling and emotion.

This concept has been carried forward into modern psychology as well and should be considered by the person interested in massage. Regular massage not only reduces physical stress, it reduces psychological stress as well. The body, mind and spirit go hand in hand in everything we do. Massage on a regular basis will help us remove our “armour” and open ourselves to psychological wellness and health.

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Beat Holiday Stress

While the holidays can bring a tremendous amount of joy to the otherwise bleak winter weather, this gift is definitely a mixed blessing. Along with choosing thoughtful presents, decorating our homes, and spending time with family, most of us feel a significant amount of stress during this part of the year. The pressure of creating the perfect day, ensuring family harmony, and keeping everyone satisfied can drain the last bit of energy from the best of us. After the holidays, the anti-climactic let-down and remaining months of winter can lead to seasonal depression. For those who suffer from year-round depression, the constant cheer and festivities can increase feelings of emptiness or isolation. The holidays frequently bring thoughts of parents and other loved-ones who may have passed. While happy memories are comforting to some of us, they can trigger the grieving process in others every year. If you’re feeling down, a massage can offer an all-natural method to lift your mood and ease your stress levels.

Ease Your Stress Levels with a Relaxing Massage!

If you’ve ever had a massage, you’ll probably agree that it’s one of the most relaxing experiences that anyone can ever have. Depending on your preferences, you probably reclined on a padded massage table in a dimly lit room with soft music playing in the background. Maybe, your senses were soothed by the flickering light of lightly-scented candles as the massage therapist gently eased the tension from your tight muscles. By the time the session was over, your mind was at ease and your body was in a complete state of relaxation. Although massage simply feels good, this isn’t the whole story when it comes to stress relief!

Your Body’s Reaction to Stress
As holiday stress takes its toll on our mind and body, we unconsciously react by creating stress-related chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. Our heart races, our blood pressure soars, and our energy level eventually drops. If the stressors are removed, our system will eventually self-regulate, but who goes even a single day without a stressful event? Out-of-control adrenalin and cortisol can disrupt your sleep cycle, promote weight gain, trigger depression, and cause a host of other physical problems. Massage can calm the body’s stress response system to reduce the amount of adrenaline and cortisol produced. While you may think this would only be effective during the massage, studies have shown that the benefits can last for days. In addition to reducing these stress chemicals, massage also increases serotonin, a well-known mood regulator, and endorphins, our body’s natural opiates that relieve pain and provide us with an overall sense of well-being.

Massage and Depression
A study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry reported 17 different studies that followed 786 people receiving regular massage made a significant improvement in alleviating depression symptoms. In addition to decreasing adrenaline and cortisol while increasing serotonin and endorphins, massage stimulates production of a chemical known as oxytocin, a trust hormone. In addition to chemical changes, reduced stress levels, increased relaxation, and a little personal contact are all thought to provide relief to depressed individuals.

If the holiday season has left you stressed, depressed, or exhausted, it’s time to claim your own holiday present! Treat yourself to a healthy massage, and you’ll soon feel like a new person. If you’ve weathered the storm without damage, treat a friend, a family member, or your special someone to a massage session. They’ll definitely appreciate your thoughtful gift!

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Massage for Diabetes

Massage and Diabetes….As more and more Americans incorporate alternative therapies into their program of health care, people with diabetes, too, are looking to the usefulness of different therapies to complement their lifestyle measures and medical care. One such alternative therapy is massage.

The therapeutic use of touch might be seen as a new development in health care, but there are traditions of touch therapies that date back through the centuries in cultures around the world.  In recent times, the field of massage has gained prominence in the areas of athletic training, medical massage, and spa and fitness centers. So a person with diabetes seeking to optimize his health care may well wonder whether massage therapy might be useful to him.

There are many benefits of massage therapy for people with diabetes. Most of these would be similar to the benefits of massage for the general population, but the following are of particular interest for people with diabetes.

By sedating the nervous system, massage can bring a much-needed rest and an assuring sense of well-being to the body. Skillfully applied touch can have a profound effect on body chemistry, decreasing the production of stress hormones, with resulting beneficial effects to blood sugar levels. (Stress hormones generally raise blood sugar levels.)

Massage increases the circulation of blood and lymph, facilitating the transport of oxygen and other nutrients into the body’s tissues. Improved circulation allows for more efficient uptake of insulin by the cells. Circulation is often impaired in people with diabetes due to the damaging effects of elevated blood sugar levels on the cells of the body.

Massage works directly with the muscles (myo) and connective tissues (fascia) in the body, helping to facilitate greater mobility in the body. This is especially important for people with diabetes, because elevated blood sugar causes a thickening of connective tissue, which affects the mobility and elasticity of the myofascial system. This may be experienced as stiffness in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments or as a decreased range of motion in the joints.

Stress hormones also contribute to chemical changes in the connective tissue, causing a stickiness between the layers of fascia. Massage therapy can significantly counter this effect. Stretching and regular exercise are also important to help encourage flexibility and health of the myofascial system.

Because changes in blood glucose level can and do occur when people with diabetes receive massage, it’s important to inform your massage therapist about your diabetes. It is also important to describe the signs and symptoms you experience when your blood sugar is low. In addition to describing your symptoms of hypoglycemia, be sure to explain to your massage therapist how you treat it. Bring glucose tablets, juice, or your usual hypoglycemia treatment to your massage sessions. By taking these precautions, massage can be safely enjoyed by a person with diabetes.

Massage can give a wonderful psychological boost to someone who is living with diabetes and striving to balance all the factors involved in maintaining a healthy lifestyle—proper nutrition, adequate exercise, blood glucose monitoring, appropriate use of medicines, and stress management. Massage therapy contributes an important piece to an individuals diabetes regimen of care.

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