Living with diabetes is inherently stressful, and therapeutic massage can be a valuable resource for promoting health and reducing some of the adverse effects of this disease. The following three items summarize the value and benefits of massage for diabetics (1).
(1) Stress Reduction Monitoring blood sugar, managing diet and medication, and worry about disease progression...all stressors. Massage is an opportunity to calm the nervous system and bring much-needed rest to a body (and mind) that is constantly on hyper-alert.
(2) Promoting Circulation One of the primary benefits of massage (for every body), it promotes/increases the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid. Circulation in diabetics is often impaired, and at the cellular level, increasing blood circulation improves the uptake of insulin, thereby lowering blood sugar levels (a good thing).
(3) Supple Connective Tissue When blood-sugar levels are chronically elevated, connective tissues in the body thicken and lose elasticity. Some diabetics claim their muscles feel "dense", "heavy", and their movement "restricted". When connective tissues are not fluid and mobile, we humans tend to move our bodies less (become less active). And moving less can produce a negative feedback loop....reduced activity = decreased blood circulation and stiffer joints (stiffer because our joints are self-lubricating, and motion promotes lubrication).