For some people, massage is about feeling pampered. However, the majority of those who seek out massage consider this treatment much more important than a treat, according to a survey by the American Massage Therapy Association. In fact, 85% of surveyed patients who had therapeutic massage said they were seeking help with a medical or stress-related problem. For those with diabetes, the safety of massage has been questioned time and again, but research shows that for most people, massage is safe as long as you know what to expect and how to plan.
Two great benefits of therapeutic massage for people with diabetes stand out among many:
· Increase in circulation. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can affect circulation. Those with type 2 diabetes may find that massage boosts their body’s ability to absorb circulating insulin, and patients with neuropathy (nerve pain) may find a reduction in pain or discomfort.
· Improved flexibility. Diabetes causes a thickening of the muscles and connective tissues—reducing flexibility and mobility. Massage may help counter this tissue response, thereby potentially increasing flexibility in the muscles.
As with any treatment, talk to your doctor first to make sure you’re a good candidate for massage. Then find a licensed massage therapist who is experienced working with patients who have diabetes. Communicate with him or her about your health and any areas of concern you would like to focus on. Make sure to share the signs of low blood sugar with your therapist and give them information about what to do if there’s an emergency.
Some safety points to consider
While massage is generally safe, here are a few safety measures to keep in mind:
· Be mindful of your neuropathy. If you have numbness or decreased sensation in your feet or legs, remember that you may not be able to feel massage pressure or guide your therapist when the pressure is too much.
· Know your blood sugar could be unstable for a while. Until you know how your body responds to massage, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels which can spike or dip for an hour or more after your session is over. After your session, check your blood sugar often. A continuous glucose monitor makes keeping close tabs of your blood sugar easy to do, and the latest touchscreen insulin pumps offer a variety of simple-to-learn tools like Personal Profiles and Temporary Basal rates to help manage insulin therapy around activities like massage.
· Don’t massage recent injection sites. Tell your therapist not to massage any area where you may have had a recent medication injection. This could cause the medicine to enter your blood stream too quickly and trigger complications.
With the added benefits of massage at your fingertips, you’re almost certain to find it to be a great deal of help both mentally and physically. Talk to your doctor today about how you can safely introduce massage therapy into your life more regularly!