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Is it better to go to a chiropractor or a massage therapist?

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

woman on her side, chiropractor leaning over her to adjust low back
Chiropractor adjusting a woman's low back

We get asked this question a lot and the best response we have for you is “it depends on what your body needs in the moment”.

Massage therapists should never perform structural adjustments, sometimes the tension in the body is from the soft tissue/fascia/muscles and that will need to be addressed first. Other times, the pattern of tension and discomfort in the body will not resolve without a chiropractor shifting the skeletal structure. This means it’s an individualized answer…. What’s happening in your body will define what the best choice is for you. Most days though we say both are best.

What we mean by that is massage and chiropractic care are phenomenal adjunct therapies and are rarely mutually exclusive. In particular, receiving massage just prior to a chiropractic adjustment helps support the muscles that may be pulling the bones out of alignment to soften so adjustments are easier, less painful and longer lasting. In addition, if you find yourself sore after an adjustment massage is an excellent treatment to help mitigate that soreness. They go very well together.

That being said, resource can be a serious consideration when booking appointments and planning out longer term care strategies so seeing both your massage therapist and chiropractor in a week can feel like a lot. We recommend that if you tend to be sore, have very tight muscles or if adjustments are painful for you even a 30 minute massage beforehand can help ensure the adjustment lasts. Obviously, prioritize whichever therapy is bringing you the most benefit and work with your care team to make a plan that fits your life and resources. Many chiropractic offices partner with bodyworkers to offer shorter sessions as prep for your adjustment and some of them take health insurance.

Remember there are many techniques and levels of skill in both chiropractic and bodywork, if you don’t resonate well with a particular practitioner try someone else, don’t give up on the therapy! There are gentle chiropractors, traditional, prenatal, cervical, and more! There’s someone out there that will be a great fit for you.

The IPSB style of bodywork is designed to be gentle and to encourage long lasting change in the body, working within the body’s own limits. This means you should never be sore after a session and you should gain more freedom in your body for days or a week or more after a session. It is an excellent style of work to support chiropractic care.


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