Reduce Tension & Misalignment With Chiropractic Massage

A man is laying on a table. Two hands are pressing into his upper back and shoulders.

Chiropractic massage is designed to reduce tension and improve misalignment issues. You’re likely familiar with the names of some of these therapies, like deep tissue massage and Swedish massage.

In this article, we’ll provide a brief overview of these different massage types, what they involve, and why they’re used, as well as at-home techniques you can practice to help identify and ease pain, increase motion, and improve posture.

Common Areas of Tension & Misalignment

Before we get into the different types of chiropractic massage, let’s talk about tension and misalignment.

Believe it or not, stress does more than affect mental health—it can also cause muscle tension, pain, and general discomfort. Additionally, if you’re sitting around all day for work, you’ll likely experience discomfort and potential alignment issues from improper posture, like slouching at a desk.

The neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, hips, feet, and hands are the most common areas of the body affected by tension/stress and postural misalignment. If you don’t address tension and pain in these areas of the body, it can result in a limited range of motion, numbness and tingling, frequent headaches, repetitive illness, and chronic pain.

Types of Chiropractic Massage

Chiropractic-based massage is a natural, highly effective way to properly reposition out-of-place vertebrae, bones, and ligaments, increase circulation and blood/nutrient delivery, expand the body’s range of motion, ease muscle tension, and stimulate internal organs.

The most common types of chiropractic massage include deep tissue, Swedish, sports, myofascial release, cranial sacral, and cupping.

Let’s review each type in more detail.

Deep Tissue

a woman is laying down on a massage table while a person's hands massage the skin on her upper back and shoulders

Using more intense pressure than most other types of massage, deep tissue massage is recommended if you experience chronic muscle pain, soreness, or tightness. It’s often useful for helping people recover from injuries and improve their posture and balance.

During this massage, the therapist applies slow kneading and strong finger pressure to release tension and improve blood flow to your deepest muscle and connective tissues.


Two hands gently pressing into someone's back. The back is lightly oiled.

Swedish massage is a full-body technique, and is much gentler than a deep tissue massage. A Swedish massage is a smart choice for people who want to relieve muscular tension or are new to massage therapy.

In this massage, a therapist uses long-flowing strokes and firm, circular motions to direct circulation toward the heart. Vibration with handheld devices, tapping, and other soothing methods are also used to encourage passive bone and joint manipulation.


Sports massage therapy can be a full-body procedure or directed to specific areas of the body as needed. This type of therapy is a good choice if you suffer from chronic or repetitive muscular issues. It is often used to reduce injuries, improve flexibility, enhance athletic performance, relieve muscular tension, and ease pain.

During a sports massage, the therapist applies a combination of soothing strokes and deep pressure based on the type of pain or injury you’re experiencing.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial tissue is a sinewy, thin connective material that supports the muscles in the body. It primarily comprises elastin fibers and collagen, suspended in extracellular spaces by an amorphous fluid called “ground substance.” In myofascial release massage, the therapist uses gentle stretching and smoothing motions to manipulate myofascial tissue, which helps relieve inflammation, expand blood flow, and ease recurring headaches and other sources of pain.

A woman laying on a table with her eyes closed. There is a hand gently pressing into her neck, behind her head.

Cranial Sacral

Cranial sacral (sometimes called craniosacral) therapy involves massaging the head, neck, spine, lower back, and pelvis to decompress the tension between bones and vertebrae. It helps cerebrospinal fluid flow more freely throughout the central nervous system, promoting deep relaxation. This natural and safe therapy may be effective for improving migraines, intestinal dysfunction, fibromyalgia, recurrent infections, poor sleep, various mood disorders, and even difficult pregnancies.


four clear cups have been placed on the back of a woman who is laying on a table with her head slightly turned to the right

Cupping is a type of deep tissue massage. Having originated more than 3,000 years ago, it is one of the oldest holistic healing techniques known. During cupping, suction-creating cups or pumps are strategically placed along the body’s meridians to promote healing by increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation, and relaxing muscle tissue. The goal of cupping is to optimize the flow of energy to target areas. Healing herbs are sometimes used with cupping to promote deep tissue detoxification.


Similar to Swedish massage, prenatal massage uses gentle, smooth pressure to relax away tension on your feet, legs, lower back, and hips. You can lay either on your side or on a specialty treatment table with a cutout for your abdomen. While this treatment is often effective for reducing stress and easing body aches during all trimesters, some facilities may not provide prenatal massages for women who are in their first trimester, as it may increase the risk of miscarriage in some women. Always ask a medical professional before you begin massage therapy.

What Makes Chiropractic Massages Different From Standard Massages?

Chiropractic-based massage focuses more on fixing misalignment issues than other types of massage. Chiropractic therapists can examine your spine and body for misalignment issues and customize a therapy protocol to improve alignment based on your specific needs.

Chiropractic massage techniques combine bone manipulation and soft tissue- and nerve-relaxing movements to optimize benefits. The two approaches work harmoniously to alleviate both the underlying cause (misalignment) and resulting symptoms (pain, numbness, etc.).

While traditional massages are generally used to promote relaxation and stimulate circulation, chiropractic massage is used widely to improve many conditions, including headaches, neck and back pain, joint discomfort, pinched nerves, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and more.

At-Home Practices for Identifying & Relieving Tension

A white woman wearing a gray tanktop and workout leggings is foam rolling her right glute on a blue foam roller

The chronic stressors of daily life can cause us to hold tension, which can cause muscular pain/tightness, headache, elevated blood pressure, gastrointestinal symptoms, heart palpitations, dry mouth, perspiration, decreased immunity, and other undesirable issues.

You can enhance your alignment and improve pain and other symptoms at home in various ways. These include:

  • Performing gentle spinal stretches to encourage natural realignment of vertebrae.
  • Using a foam roller to apply even and consistent pressure on myofascial tissue.
  • Using resistance bands slowly and intentionally.
  • Having a regular Yoga or Pilates practice.

Be mindful of your discomfort and pain. Explore the tension in your body. Identify which areas need some focused attention. Make routine self-love a priority by eating nutritious food, hydrating with clean water, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, exercising daily, and, perhaps most importantly, laughing!

Schedule Your Massage Today

Regular chiropractic massage therapy sessions can effectively improve your mental, physical, and emotional performance in all areas of life. However, just like with any pain management solution, it’s important to consult a medical professional before booking your first session. A medical professional can help you identify which massage types might be better suited for you based on your unique needs.

If you’re curious about the benefits of chiropractic massage therapy, get in touch with our team at Total Health Systems. We’re proud to be one of Michigan’s most trusted multi-disciplinary wellness centers. We offer a broad range of holistic services, including chiropractic care, traditional massage therapy, functional medicine, acupuncture, and so much more.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists—we can’t wait to help support you on your personal journey to a more pain-free, healthy, and happy life!

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