Is Therapeutic Chiropractic Massage for You?

By Bethany Hoppe

I remember feeling guilty yet energized by the awkwardness of stripping down in the middle of the afternoon.  A total interruption to my normal day, I slid hesitantly between the cool sheets, stretching my limbs, flexing my fingers, and flattening my back into the warmth of the plush cushioning that embraced by tiny body.  

It was leisurely. 

It was relaxing.  

It took the edge off my nerves, and soothed my frazzled hectic schedule into nothingness.  I felt like I had indulged in a fine wine without taking a sip.

Who knew that therapeutic chiropractic massage was so beneficial?

Before I began to use my manual chair full-time, I meandered around the farm, school, town, and later the campus on standard crutches. The benefit of this was virtual accessibility to just about any building I would ever want to go to.  Plus, it kept the pounds off, the muscles built, and my core strength pretty stellar.

The drawback was the wear and tear on my arms, hands, and shoulders.  Eventually, around 1997 I chose to use my chair more or less full time.  By 2000 I was seated at all times.  The benefit was the nerve and sensory recovery for my arms and hands, as well as less wear and tear on my body for my best longevity in health.  The drawback was a loss in metabolism, and a pretty quick weakening of my core.  
Over the years, I have added back into my lifestyle light workouts with free weights - absolutely nothing like the intense workouts I would pour myself into as a competitive bench press athlete.  More recently I have added yogic floor exercises, and QiGong to my regimen, along with meditation and further Spiritual study.  When I'm not working out on my own, my husband Tyson and I go for runs/jogs as weather and time together permits.  So, gradually I am getting my former college physique back, which I am incredibly thankful for!

Still, regardless that exercise and a healthy diet based on the Mayr way are a part of my life - my back began to take on minor issues from being seated all the time.  When I noticed my posture was beginning to be compromised, I launched into research about additional modes of complimentary medicine that would not only keep me healthier, out of the doctor's office, and more importantly off the operating table.   My attention tuned right into chiropractic work and massage.  

According to The Chiropractic Journal of Medicine, a study published in 2011 indicated a 10-degree improvement in spinal curvature of adults with scoliosis over a six month period of Chiropractic care.  The patients were all adults between the ages of 25 and 54, and none had ever had back-straightening surgery.  Further follow-up found those who improved their spinal alignment by 10-degrees either maintained their recovery, or showed even greater improvements over the next six months.  Those are not bad odds at all!

Having Spina Bifida, my curvature is significant compared to your average non-disabled chiropractic patient.  It isn't so much that my voice, lung capacity, or organs are at risk - but it is enough that I personally detected posture deterioration from the time that I began to use my chair full time.  

Muscle is stronger than bone...and not many people are aware of that.  While bones can be eight times stronger than concrete, it is the consistent pressure of our musculature wrapping around those bones that makes all the difference in the world for our posture, walking gait, and seated position.  

In fact, the muscle-bone relationship is so important that, according to an article published by Unbelievable Facts, we are 1-cm taller in the morning compared to our stature in the evening simply by being upright, compression, gravity, and settling of the cartilage throughout the day.  

If we stripped all of our muscles from our skeletal structure, we would basically collapse.  So it is muscular strength, core strength, muscle stimulation, and flexibility that maintains our body shape. In other words, strengthen the muscle...strengthen and optimize the structure.  

It takes twice as long to lose muscle as it does to gain it, which is great news if you miss a workout or two.  You do not have to start from scratch.  But, you do not want to stay out of they gym twice as long as you were in it...because then you will be starting over.

Over the last six months I have been going to the Chiropractor on a weekly basis - not for pain management, but for pain prevention.  Additionally, about every two to three weeks, I get a guilty-pleasure one hour therapeutic massage.  I honestly struggled with that at first because I thought massages were luxuries that didn't fit my budget.  That is, until I learned that for every adjustment the chiropractor made, followed by a massage two to three weeks later, helped retrain and reframe my muscular tension to the bone's new adjusted position.  While chiropractic work benefits in and of itself, combining it with massage boosts its benefits multiple times over.  

If I carry the same muscular tension in my shoulders and neck for two weeks after an adjustment, eventually the adjustment proves nearly non-beneficial because muscle memory simply forces the bones back to where they were held at an awkward position in the first place.  Take the same treatments and add on a massage periodically, your muscles completely relax into a new position and allow the chiropractic adjustment to hold fast to a new position.  This method repeated regularly over time puts you on the physical path to better alignment, better posture, less pain, zero headaches, and improved circulation.

Our backs are vital to the rest of our body, our organs, our circulation, and even our alertness.  All messages from the brain zip down the spinal cord, and all of our nerves from thoracic to lumbar come from the health of the back.  Our back health literally relates to headaches, vision, sinuses, and even sleep cycles.  

Consider it.  If you have partial sensory, have not had spinal surgeries with rods, then talking to a Chiropractor may be well worth the investment.  You may have to shop around.  Some chiropractors may not want to take on patients that may be more at-risk depending upon their disability.  But, they are out there.  Finding one you are comfortable with, one that is able to accommodate your needs, and displays the care and technique you require for your specific disability, is well worth it.  Your general health will thank you for it.  Your posture and pain prevention will certainly thank you for it.  

Talk to your primary doctor, your rehab clinic, or other specialists you work with to make sure it is something right for you in terms of complimentary medicine.  

Who knows...maybe you'll be the one who feels guilty next stripping down in the middle of the day, sliding between the cool sheets of a massage table, and taking the edge off of your day! 

Bethany A. Hoppe is the author of the Lifestyle Blog "Raspberry Vogue," and the children's book series "Molly B. Golly."  The first book, "Molly B. Golly's Wonderful Dancing Debut!" is currently released. Bethany teaches Communication and Voice Diction at Middle Tennessee State University, and is the founder of Bethany Productions which promotes women with disabilities within entertainment through writing, speaking, performance, and fashion.  Visit Bethany at to keep up with her creative projects!  You can also find her online at


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