Massage is one of the oldest and safest methods practiced to ensure good health. Massage therapy is the practice of applying pressure on the muscles and soft tissues of the body by the use of hands, fingers, forearms, elbows or feet. It improves the blood circulation in the body thus relieving pain, reducing stress, depression and anxiety. A massage therapist can use different forms of massage techniques like strokes, circular movements, kneading, tapping or vibration depending upon the need and physical condition of the patient.
The use of massage therapy for diabetes has been growing drastically in the last few years. Various studies have shown that the patients who suffer from diabetes use massage therapy in conjunction with their regular medical treatments. In diabetes, the blood sugar (glucose) levels are very high due to the imbalance in the secretion or utilization of the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas for helping the glucose to enter the cells as well as for regulating the blood sugar level in the body. When massage is given at injection sites, it increases insulin absorption in the body. In addition to this, it also has a positive effect on the blood glucose levels.
The benefits of massage therapy is incredible and can range from stimulating the lymph system, lowering the blood sugar levels, to removing toxins from the body. Massage improves the blood circulation in the body and reduces the ill effects developed due to diabetes such as hardening of arteries. When the blood circulation in the body improves, more oxygen and nutrients are provided to the body cells and this in turn improves the utilization of the insulin by the cells.
Massage is a great therapy for relaxing and reducing the stress. Any form of stress or mental fatigue is harmful to the diabetic patient as it increases their blood glucose level. Hence a massage helps to relax the nervous system and reduce the production of stress hormones thus maintaining the blood sugar level normal. Various institutes like Duke Medical University, Touch Research Institute have conducted research about the stress management practices and the studies show that any form of relaxation therapy (such as massage) has a profound effect in lowering the blood sugar levels.
Increased blood sugar levels cause thickening of the connective tissue in diabetic patients as a result of which their muscle, tendons and ligament becomes stiff as well as they experience less movement in the joints. Massage therapy helps significantly in improving the flexibility of the tissue and joint mobility. Apart from this, the patients are also advised to follow a regular stretching exercise as well as include some motion techniques.
Before beginning a massage therapy, the diabetic patient should always consult their primary care physician. A person who has diabetes in control can have a massage done only if their blood pressure is under control and also on the condition that they have no damage from diabetes. People with diabetes should take some precautionary measures before taking a massage. They should inform the massage practitioner in advance about the specific areas of concern and make sure that the blood sugar levels are within control. The effects of massage may last for longer duration hence the diabetic patient should check their blood sugar levels at regular intervals. A common complication in diabetes is neuropathy hence in such cases neuromuscular massage with gentle strokes and applying pressure, as in acupressure, is a safer option.