Chiro, physio or massage?

“Your body will whisper to you. If you don’t listen it will speak louder and eventually it will scream.
Listen to the wisdom of your body.”

Dr. Laina Shulman

Chiropractor, physio or massage…What is right for you?

By Dr. Laina Shulman

I am asked this question a great deal and will answer it keeping in mind that there are many unique scopes of practice within each profession. I’ll answer it as a chiropractor who has spent 25 years in practice working with many health practitioners.  The goal is always maximum healing for the patient.


The foundation of the professions when considering chiropractor, physio or massage:

Chiropractors focus on the alignment of the spine and functioning of the nerves. When areas of the spine are out of alignment, they interfere with the proper functioning of the nerves, leading to tension, pain and many different symptoms. Chiropractors remove this stress through gentle chiropractic adjustments allowing the body to heal without the use of drugs and surgery.

Physiotherapists deal with the strength and flexibility of the ligaments and muscles surrounding joints. They frequently use modalities such as ultrasound and strengthening/stretching techniques.

Massage therapists focus on the amount of tension in the muscles and fascia of the body. Massages can be used for relaxation purposes of to decrease muscle tension and improve lymphatic drainanage.


Years of education:

7 years after high school

5 years after high school

Massage therapist:
2 years after high school

Chiropractic is the largest natural
health profession in the world.

Their extensive knowledge of
healing and diagnosis provides chiropractors with the title doctor.

How they work together (in our office):

Our doctors take the time to ensure thatevery patient understands the cause of their symptoms and the recommended course of action. If the doctor determines that he/she is not a chiropractic case they are referred to the appropriate health practitioner that day. If it is determined that it is a chiropractic case the doctor will recommend the appropriate course of care.

In some cases,  working with other health practitioners helps symptoms resolve most quickly. For example: When the spine is out of alignment the body naturally tightens the surrounding muscles. This is the body’s own defense mechanism guarding the area. This is why some patients report that no matter how much they stretch or massage muscles tighten up again very quickly. The muscles have been protecting an underlying issue in the spine.

As the spine is realigned the surrounding muscles naturally begin to relax. Patients are given supportive stretches and exercises for maximum results. In some cases the long term “muscle- memory” continues to tense the muscles. In this case we work in conjunction with a massage therapist in order to ensure that muscle tension is eliminated, the adjustments hold, and healing occurs as quickly as possible. Patients feel long term relief from their massages as the muscles are no longer “guarding”.

In the same way, if ligament or other soft tissue strains, sprains or imbalances hinder maximum recovery we refer a patient for physiotherapy in order to augment healing.

As chiropractors it is our role to ensure that the nerves are functioning optimally. If a nerve is being pinched, the area of the body it controls (organ, muscle or joint) cannot heal until the nerve pressure is released. The nerves coordinate and control the healing of the body.

It is our office policy to communicate with the health professionals we refer to on a regular basis and ensure that we are all working together towards clear objectives… the patient’s healing.