How Massage Can Help Diabetes

Category: Health
Last updated on: 20/10/2018
Massage can help reduce hyperglycaemia for diabetes sufferers

Anxiety and poor circulation are two common symptoms suffered by both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Many people will already be aware that massage therapy can help reduce stress and improve blood circulation. However, scientific studies have also suggested that certain massage techniques could be beneficial in increasing the effectiveness of insulin injections and reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. 


Stress Relief 

People with diabetes suffer from inconsistent blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health issues. Insulin is a hormone usually produced by the pancreas, but often supplemented by injections for diabetes sufferers, which keeps blood glucose at the right levels.

When we feel anxious, our bodies produce stress-related hormones such as cortisol. These can block the benefits of natural or injected insulin. For insulin to work most efficiently, it is therefore important that you feel happy and relaxed. 

Therapeutic massage is widely accepted to has a positive effect on reducing stress and anxiety. Deep tissue kneading techniques relax and release tension in muscles tissues, whilst the carefully controlled ambience that is typically used for massage therapy helps improve the mental state of mind. As these factors begin to work together in harmony, you begin to feel increasingly relaxed. Heart rate and blood pressure reduce and feelings of stress begin to dissipate. 

In addition to the tangible benefits of massage, the act of being cared for by another human with genuine empathy can naturally boost how you feel. This promotes the production of feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin, which further reduces stress and enable insulin to do its job of controlling blood sugar more effectively. 


Improved Blood Circulation

If you have higher than average blood glucose levels for extended periods of time, your veins and arteries can become clogged up. Many long-term sufferers of diabetes therefore suffer from poor blood circulation. As a result, simple injuries like a wound on the foot can develop serious complications more easily. Ensuring good blood circulation is an important factor in controlling the risks from diabetes and maintaining health.

Flowing massage strokes like effleurage that are commonly used in Swedish massage and many other forms of massage therapy are known to improve the flow of blood and lymph fluids. The process of being massaged increases the rate at which fresh, oxygen-rich, blood is carried to all parts of your body. The risk of infection from injuries is also reduced as white blood cells in lymph fluids are pumped more effectively to extremities like the hands and feet.


Increased Insulin Absorption

Managing correct blood glucose levels is another key aspect of controlling diabetes and avoiding serious health issues. In 1983, RS Dillon's research showed that massage can affect the rate of insulin absorption. Crucially, these clinical studies indicated that diabetics who were experiencing hyperglycaemia could use massage, at the point of injecting insulin, to more quickly and effectively reduce blood glucose levels.

Whilst massage may help the speed at which high blood sugar levels are brought down, it is equally important for diabetics to understand and ensure that any therapy or medication applied does not cause glucose levels to drop too low, a condition known as hypoglycaemia. Maintaining control and stability at the ideal levels is key in terms of blood sugar.


Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetes can cause nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy. Tapotement massage techniques such as tapping, hacking and cupping therapy are effective in stimulating nerves and sensory perception. Whilst further research is still needed in this area, at least one clinical trial has suggested that massage may be beneficial in treating some of the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. 


If you are diabetic and receiving a massage at home, it is recommended to check your blood sugar levels before and after your treatment and to make your therapist aware of where the items you use to control your sugar levels, such as insulin injections and glucose tablets, are kept. Massage is not generally contraindicated for diabetics but if you are unsure about your personal condition, it is always best to check with your doctor before receiving any form of treatment.

Laugher and happiness are often named the best medicine. In the case of diabetics, reducing stress really can help restore your blood sugar to the correct levels and help keep you healthy.



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