by Mary Broedell, Certified Health Coach
Of all the alternative healing modalities, chiropractic and massage are the two that I use the most. They both help bring balance back to the body through manipulation of the spine and muscles. Both modalities are relatively painless and results are sometimes felt immediately with long term effects being the sought after outcome. Chiropractic and massage therapies are a natural was to heal the body of ailments as well as some diseases. Without evasive procedures or dangerous drugs, these healing modalities have been used for many years.
Chiropractic healing started with the founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still. His vision was that the body worked like a machine and the machine has an invisible magnetic flow that could be tapped into to restore harmony to the body. Still came up with a mechanism of adjusting the body’s bones to bring about healing of diseases without drugs. He named this method “osteopathy”. Osteopaths were medical doctors as well as bone manipulators, using both methods to heal their patients. As osteopathy grew, they had a hard time keeping their competitors, who weren’t medical doctors, from practicing without a medical license. These unlicensed practitioners called themselves chiropractors. Daniel David Palmer founded the practice of Chiropractic healing after he immediately cured a deaf person of 17 years with an adjustment to a misaligned vertebra. His theory that misaligned bones pressed on nerves causing increased vibrations in the body. These vibrations caused tension and heat, unbalancing the functions of the tissues, nerves and organs of the body. (Magner, 2007, 406 – 408)
One of Palmer’s patients suggested the name chiropractic for the Greek cheiro and praktikos meaning “done by hand.” (Magner, 2007, 408) By correcting subluxated vertebra, Palmer treated a variety of problems, from asthma, deafness, heart disease, kidney problems, and cancer. He mapped out the nerve points in the spine that correlated to each vertebra so he could heal his patients and teach other chiropractors the art. (Magner, 2007, 408)
The Palmer family was very involved in the foundation of chiropractic healing. Daniel David Palmer was the developer, as mentioned above, offering classes in chiropractic at the his school, Palmer School and Cure. Daniel David Palmer was known as the “The Discoverer”, as he was the one who founded chiropractic. His son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer, became know as “The Developer” due to his skills as a successful businessman and his administration of the school. He also was the one that started using X-rays as a diagnostic procedure to search for subluxations. Mable Heath Palmer, Bartlett’s wife, was the treasurer of the school and taught anatomy after she took classes at the Palmer School herself. (Magner, 2007, 409)
Now that chiropractic has become so popular, two methods of chiropractors have emerged. The “straights”, those that only do spinal adjustments and object to using any other methods. And “mixers”, those chiropractors that mix alternative modalities together. According to Magner (2007), they use treatments such as; “ice packs, heat packs, massage, guided movement, friction, traction, electrical current, ultrasound therapy, and Rolfing” (p.410).
I’ve sought chiropractic healing for almost 20 years now. I first sought a chiropractor after I was in a car accident which caused whip lash and back pain. The medical doctors wanted to put me in traction and give me heavy duty pain killers. I had to work. I couldn’t do that for weeks. So, a coworker recommended a chiropractor and, after some X-rays, they started therapy there and then. The chiropractor started with mild adjustments so as not to traumatize the muscles that were still in shock. And told me the pros and cons of wearing a neck brace and were so informative about what happened to my body, I was overwhelmed, and very satisfied. I healed quickly and have no lasting issues.
The second healing modality is massage therapy which dates back thousands of years. Back to ancient Greece, Rome, Japan, China and Egypt. Where chiropractic was a therapy of manipulation to the bones of the body, massage therapy manipulates the muscles of the body. Therapists press, rub, and manipulate the muscles by applying various pressures and movements with their fingers, forearms, elbows or feet according to MedicineNet.com. They manipulate the muscles until they relax, increasing the oxygen delivery to the blood, improving circulation and decreasing stress and pain.
There are over 80 types of massage therapy; therapeutic, deep tissue, hot stone, aromatherapy, shiatsu, Thai, reflexology, sports and more. They all have differing ways of manipulating the muscles but they all relieve tension and spasms, restoring balance to the body. From long strokes, to kneading and applying heat to loosen and lengthen muscles. From soft strokes to a deeper massage with targeted focus on trigger points or “knots” that form in the muscles. Some add scents or rhythmic sequences to improve the energy and flow of the body.
Massage brings the body back into balance, increasing circulation and relaxation, relieving stress, healing sport injuries, anxiety, depression, headaches, improving sleep and more. According to a Newsweek Web Exclusive by Temma Herenfeld, the top five benefits of massage are; Pick Your Spot, you tell the massage therapist the area you want worked on. Massage boosts your immunity by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol and lowers your blood pressure. The Techniques, make sure firm pressure is used. And finally, you can give yourself a massage. You can massage your own feet, hands, arms, legs, or face and reap the benefits just the same.
Massage therapy is a wonderful relaxing experience. It helps me to relax, works out tight muscles, rebalances my body so that it can function better. It is a wonderful rejuvenator. I actually combine the two. I go for a chiropractic adjustment then right after get a massage for ultimate healing and relaxation.
Of course with any modality, nothing can replace eating whole fruits, vegetables and grains in the right proportions. If you would like help in creating a custom meal plan just for you, contact me for a free initial consultation.
Magner, Lois N., (2009). A History of Medicine. New York: Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.
Massage Therapy. MedicineNet.com. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from http://www.medicinenet.com/massage_therapy/page2.htm#what.
Herenfeld, Temma (2008, September 4). Five Surprising Benefits of Massage: We know a massage feels good, but if can have a host of therapeutic advantages, too. Newsweek Web Exclusive. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from http://www.newsweek.com/id/157196.