Massage has been shown to play a part in alleviating signs and symptoms of diabetes.
Every year, 14 November is observed as World Diabetes Day.
According to the World Health Organisation’s 2016 statistics, an estimated 422 million people worldwide live with diabetes mellitus.
There are several forms of diabetes with some experts even proposing that Alzheimers and dementia be classified diabetes Type 3 but that is a topic for another day.
We usually distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Massage can play a part in alleviating signs and symptoms in both.Type 1 diabetes refers to the autoimmune condition where the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
The lack of insulin results in raised blood and urine glucose levels in the body. Insulin has to be added to the body via injection using an animal-derived or synthetic form of insulin, hence the term insulin dependent diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes, is considered a lifestyle disease. It is associated with the way we how we spend our days, what we eat and how we deal with stress.
Between 85 to 90% of all cases of diabetes mellitus is Type 2 or non-insulin dependent diabetes and can be ascribed to risk factors such as obesity and longevity. Rather than a lack of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, Type 2 is characterised by insulin resistance.
This means that, at least in the early stages, Type 2 diabetes can be reversed through medication and the introduction of lifestyle changes e.g. weight loss, healthy eating, exercise, not smoking and avoiding alcohol.
An important way of avoiding and managing especially Type 2 diabetes is to manage stress levels and preventing a rise in blood glucose levels.
This is where massage can play a role in managing diabetes mellitus - as long as your condition is stable and your skin is healthy and intact.
The one thing we have to be careful of is neuropathy.
Clients might have impaired sensation in their hands and feet. They may not feel pain and are unable to give feedback about pressure.
In such cases it is better to stay away from really deep techniques and make sure that lines of communication between the client and I are open and honest.
Here are three reasons why massage therapy is beneficial for diabetics:
1. Massage encourages relaxation
Studies have shown that managing stress levels can lower blood glucose levels.
When we find ourselves in a stressful situation we go into the fight or flight mode which causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise.
In a healthy body that is part of our survival mechanism and helps prepare the body for action. However for diabetics, raised blood glucose levels are dangerous. Not only is modern life in general a huge source of stress but living with the diabetes also leads to physical and psychological stress.
Massage is one way of relaxing the body and reducing the stress-reaction and to level out sugar levels.
2. Massage stimulates circulation
Increased circulation improves transport of oxygen and nutrients improving tissue health in general as well as insulin uptake in particular.
3. Massage improves tissue flexibility
Long term elevated levels of blood sugar cause connective tissue (e.g. cartilage, bone, tendons and ligaments) to thicken.
Massage and stretching supports tissue mobility and elasticity and alleviate stiffness in muscles, tendons and ligaments and increases range of motion in the joints.
For better results, combine massage with stretching exercises or yoga and cardiovascular exercise.
If you think you could do with some support in dealing with diabetes mellitus, give me a call.
Body-mind or mind-body? If you are struggling with physical and mental pain and feel that the dominant health paradigm’s dualistic approach to mind and body seems inadequate to explain anything, I want to talk to you. Join me under the tree in my garden for a cup of rooibos tea and let’s talk massage and SomaSense!