Tranquility And Treatment: Benefits Of Massage For People With Diabetes

A massage provides mind and body benefits that enhance diabetes management in several ways.

While these mind-body benefits are also good for non-diabetics, they are of particular interest and aid to those living with the added pressures of daily glucose regulation.

Massage and Diabetes

So, if you need an excuse to pamper yourself, regular massage might be your perfect blend of pleasure, tranquility, and diabetes treatment:

  • A consistent massage program may keep stress hormones in check, helping to lower blood pressure for better cardiovascular and kidney health. Reduced stress levels can also prevent or diminish symptoms of anxiety, depression, and irritability.
  • Massage enhances circulation. The pressure generated by massage moves blood through congested areas, and releasing that pressure lets oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to flow in. Better circulation allows more efficient absorption of insulin by the cells, as well. Massage also flushes lactic acid out of muscle tissue and improves the movement of lymph fluids that transport waste from internal organs and muscle, improving overall body performance. Relaxation, deep muscle, and hot stone massage techniques are especially helpful with circulation.
  • Research suggests that regular massage enhances the activity level of our immune system’s “killer” cells, aiding in the defense against bacterial infections.
  • There are gentle forms of massage that those with sensitive skin can enjoy, such as comfort touch techniques, or nurturing types of acupressure. Plus, massage can stimulate the release of endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin—feel good substances that may help diminish the discomfort of neuropathy.
  • By working on our connective tissue, muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons regular massage can improve range of motion, flexibility, keep our joints more fluid, and less injury prone.
  • When relaxed our outlook tends to be more positive. We are more creative, manage pressure better, are more alert, and able to focus. Being in a relaxed state - with reduced stress hormones - can also have a positive effect on glucose levels.

Cautions

Because the deep relaxation attained during a massage makes high or low glucose symptoms easier to overlook, and since massage tends to lower glucose levels, it’s important to monitor blood sugar before and after enjoying a massage—and maybe mid-massage if the session is long. Let the therapist know about the possibility of hypoglycemia, what the signs are, and how you manage it (e.g., juice, glucose tablets).

People with diabetes are encouraged to seek out massage therapists who are licensed, knowledgeable about different types of massage and their specific effects on the body. It would also be wise to discuss massage therapy with your doctor or diabetes care team to get any helpful cautions or glucose management tips.

Sources: American Massage Therapy Assoc.; Massage Envy
Photo credit: Kanoktham Massage

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