No matter your age, race, or gender, you most certainly know someone with, or affected by, type one or type two diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are over 29.1 million Americans with diabetes. With a stress-free, healthy lifestyle and diet, many diabetics can live a long life, free of complications. Others, however, are not so lucky and find themselves suffering with the unfortunate complications of diabetes. Complications can range from neuropathy, blindness, kidney damage, and hearing impairment, to Alzheimer’s. Luckily, massage therapy can provide relief and improvement in some instances of diabetic complications.
Glucose levels are what diabetics monitor to know the proper amount of insulin to give themselves. Glucose levels display the amount of sugar in your blood. Studies show stress levels are in direct correlation with glucose levels. If your job, bills, traffic, family, responsibilities, etc. are a constant source of stress, you will find your blood sugar levels to be through the roof. According to Richard Surwit, Author of The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution, “Under stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, raising blood sugar levels to prepare you for action.” Massage therapy is known to reduce the stress hormone called cortisol. This is an all-natural way to decrease stress in the body which results in better blood sugar numbers, decreasing the likelihood of diabetic complications. According to an article on The Huffington Post, massage therapy not only lowers stress levels but also increases white blood cell count, which helps boost the immune system. Among many other benefits, massage therapy lowers blood pressure. Keeping stress levels to a minimum is crucial for the health of a diabetic. With regular massage therapy and maintaining a simple, low stress life, diabetes is much more manageable.
Neuropathy is general nerve damage caused by diabetes. Neuropathy shows itself in many places on the body, usually extremities such as hands, feet, toes, arms, and can cause pain, loss of strength, burning, and numbness. Neuropathy is not limited to the extremities, as it can also affect eyes – causing blindness, shoulders, hips, and buttocks. According to an article on Integrative Therapies ,massage therapy will reduce pain from neuropathy, increase blood flow and circulation, increase joint flexibility, reduce spasms and cramping, and improve overall skin quality. While massage therapy may not be a permanent solution to neuropathy, it can certainly provide relief for people suffering with the painful effects of neuropathy without having to take more medicine. Clients have expressed being able to walk better and live pain-free while receiving regular massage therapy.
Another complication of diabetes is the way elevated blood sugar levels affect the muscles and tissues over time. This can result in the connective tissues of the body, the fascia, to become thick and stiff, causing loss of range of motion and elasticity. The massage therapy technique, myofascial release, works directly with the tissue of the muscles. This helps create better mobility, increased range of motion, and overall healthier, more elastic tissues. According to an article on Massage Magazine, the positive effects of massage therapy will allow patients to avoid the sedentary lifestyle and depression that can occur with diabetics facing complications.
While massage therapy proves to aid greatly in diabetics dealing with elevated blood sugar levels due to stress, neuropathy, and muscle tissue issues, there are also several other ways to manage complications. Regular exercise, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, just to name a few. With healthy habits, such as receiving regular massage therapy, clean diet, and low stress levels, diabetes can be much easier to manage.