Massage has been recommended for diabetes for nearly 100 years. However, the usefulness of massage for people with diabetes remains unclear as evidenced by a recent exchange on an internet... diabetes message board.
Below are three reasons massage therapy is beneficial to diabetics:
1.Relaxation – Stress management can lower blood glucose levels. A study at New Mexico University showed that a short stress-relief program including massage could lower blood sugar and improve health in diabetic patients.
When the body encounters stress, it prepares itself for a “fight or flight” reaction by raising blood glucose levels. Since raised blood glucose levels are detrimental to diabetics, methods of reducing stress, such as massage therapy, can have a profound effect on preventing blood sugar surges.
2.Circulation – There is no getting around the fact that massage can increase circulation, thereby encouraging the efficient transport of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Improved circulation, in turn, improves the cells’ insulin uptake.
3.Tissue Flexibility – A history of high blood sugar thickens connective tissue. Massage helps increase tissue mobility and elasticity, reversing the thickening effect of uncontrolled glucose levels. This tissue inflexibility can manifest as stiffness in muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as decreased range of motion in the joints. Massage therapy can significantly counter this effect. Additional factors to encourage flexibility and support the myofascial system’s health include range of motion techniques, stretching and the inclusion of a regular exercise program.
While massage therapy presents many benefits to people with diabetes, there are some important safety measures requiring a massage therapist’s attention.
1. If client arrives confused / lethargic - massage treatment is contraindicated.
2. If client has hypoglycemic attack, give carbohydrates and discontinue massage.
3. Someone with diabetes may need to breath rapidly, do not encourage diaphragmatic breathing as it may change insulin levels.
4. Treat appropriately if client has hypertension, peripheral nerve lesions / compression.
5. Modify pressure with decreased tissue health, modify hydrotherapy as well.