All Things Considered: What are the Effects of Massage for people with Diabetes?
Photo Credit: Thomas Hafeneth
Massage is one of the fastest-growing complementary therapies around the world. Like any other treatment, diabetic massage has several potential benefits and side effects for people with this diagnosis. Some studies show that it has a positive impact on blood glucose levels and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. In fact, one group study found that when parents gave a full-body nightly massage to their diabetic children, the children’s glucose levels dropped from an average of 158 to 117 mg / dL within one month.
Diabetes massage relaxes the muscles and calms the mind, thus reducing the physical and mental ailments associated with diabetic symptoms.
What Are Common Complications of Diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 1 out of 3 diabetics over the age of 50 will suffer from peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD occurs when the blood vessels in the legs are narrowed and blocked by fatty deposits, and the blood flow to the feet is decreased. This can result in an alarming number of consequences, ranging from foot ulcers to amputation. Therefore, it is critical for people with diabetes to ensure that the blood flow to their legs is regulated.
Can Diabetics Use Massage Chairs with Foot Massagers?
Massage products—from recliners with foot-and-calf massagers, to targeted foot-and-calf relief solutions—can serve as an incredibly useful tool for patients with diabetes seeking to increase blood flow in their legs and swollen feet. The Figure-Eight® Technology in many Human Touch® products delivers an advanced technique that emulates those used by a professional masseuse, and this technique increases the blood flow between the legs and torso.
Benefits of Foot Massage for Diabetics
Massage has been shown to drop glucose levels, which can help to prevent hyperglycemia in diabetics. According to Healthline.com, hyperglycemia can cause eye damage, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, nerve damage (neuropathy), skin and gum infections, joint problems and even can result in a diabetic coma. Helping to relax your body will assist in lowering your glucose levels, which can prevent these types of hyperglycemic ailments.
Another benefit of diabetes massage is the increase in flexibility as the muscles are loosened. High blood sugar can result in the thickening of connective tissue, and massage will increase the mobility and elasticity of that tissue. As the muscles, tendons and ligaments are relaxed, patients will find an increase in motion and flexibility in the joints, therefore improving their quality of life. Thus, a foot massager for diabetics is a great way to increase flexibility and mobility in their feet. Diabetics also often have restricted blood flow in their feet, which massage can help increase.
Important Precautions of Massage for People with Diabetes
All of these benefits of massage should be noted by anyone suffering from diabetes. However, if you are diabetic, you need to consider a few important factors when seeking the therapy.
As with any type of physical therapy, you need to consult your physician before beginning massage therapy. It’s a great option for anyone seeking stress and pain relief, but people with diabetes need to be aware of fluctuations in their blood sugar levels at all times. Diabetics especially need to monitor their glucose levels after such therapy. They may not need as much insulin as they normally do after a massage.
It is also important for diabetics to avoid massage in an area where they inject insulin. Pressure in this area may influence the way that their body absorbs the shot and therefore alter their intake. This is one of the things professional athletes suffering from diabetes especially need to be mindful of.
Are Foot Massagers Good for Diabetics with Neuropathy?
As a final recommendation, diabetics should be cautious when assessing the pressure levels and heat options from any massage service, whether from a masseuse, a chair or with a foot massager. Those who want to try foot massage for diabetic neuropathy need to consult with a healthcare professional and also do their own research to determine if the massage technique or heating levels are ideal for a person of their body type and sensitivity levels.