Massage is a useful adjunct to chiropractic treatment, helping resolve muscular issues that have arisen in compensation of underlying mechanical dysfunction.
Massage helps decrease pain by addressing areas of continuous contraction within muscles. When a muscle is over loaded for a long period of time, as happens with desk work for example, a state of tetany is provoked. This simply means the muscle cannot stop contracting and, in fact, the contraction is self-perpetuating. This causes sensitisation of local nerves, leading to both local and referred pain. Physical stimulation, by acupuncture, massage, tens and so forth, of a contracting muscle fibre has been shown to interrupt this process, decreasing nerve irritation. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but light massage is a very effective method.
A further, just as important, use of massage is the break down of fibrous tissues. If a muscle has been suddenly damaged, or has been contracting for a very long time (years rather than weeks), tough, stringy tissue is deposited to strengthen it. This tissue is not muscle fibre and reduces contraction strength, also decreasing the range of movement the muscle can move through. The best way to remove this fibrous tissue is by firm massage. This is what people normally experience as a sports massage. Although this approach is not suitable for everyone, in chronic or traumatic cases it is very useful.