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Massage Therapy May Be Essential for Diabetics

08 Jan 2018

Educating future massage and shiatsu therapists is our main business, but part of what we strive to do is educate the general public as well regarding the benefits of therapeutic bodywork.

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you already know that we often have articles on the benefits of massage therapy, both for overall health and wellness but also for specific complaints and/or medical conditions. One specific condition we’d like to talk about today is diabetes and the benefits of massage therapy.

Diabetes mellitus (commonly referred to simply as diabetes) is of major concern because it afflicts a growing number of people. In fact, that number is increasing at an alarming rate. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that new cases of adult-onset diabetes have increased approximately 90% as compared to the previous ten-year period.

Diabetes brings with it a number of medical issues, both in management of the symptoms as well as the impact it has on overall health as well as contribution to things such as heart and peripheral artery disease. It’s essential for a diabetic to do everything possible to lessen both the disease and its side effects.

The main treatment prescribed for diabetics of course is insulin, but there are natural therapies that can be used in conjunction with it. These therapies can also help to reduce the possibility of developing the disease among those who have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

Diabetes is a condition where the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t properly use its own insulin to process blood sugar, resulting in high blood sugar levels. The body counteracts by increasing production of urine to remove it. Frequent urination is a result, as well as a high amount of stress on the kidneys. Associated effects include fatigue, yeast infections, circulatory problems, and pain (especially in the legs and feet).  It’s not unusual for diabetics to deal with anxiety and depression.

Research has proved that massage therapy increases circulation, and this is of major benefit for diabetics. Reduced circulation in the lower legs is common among those who have diabetes, due to its impact on the cardiovascular system. Pain and swelling result, and restricted circulation cuts down on healthy flow of both blood and lymph. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is not uncommon among diabetics.

But therapeutic massage is known to help reduce edema (swelling) as well as boost circulation of bodily fluids. A 2015 Thai research study showed that diabetics getting massage therapy had significant improvement in their PAD symptoms. It has also been shown to have a positive affect on heart disease issues.

Another side effect of diabetes many people may not be aware of is thickening of the body’s connective tissues. That condition limits flexibility and also produces pain. Massage therapy – especially friction-type work – can contribute significantly to myofascial flexibility and overall elasticity of muscle tissue.

Of course, therapeutic massage has numerous other benefits of special significance to diabetics, including potential reduction of anxiety levels and depression. Along with weight and blood sugar control, massage therapy may also help lower blood glucose levels.

Diabetes should not attempt to manage their condition without the aid of a physician, and of course we are not advocating substituting massage therapy for the recommendations of a patient’s doctor, but research indicates that regular therapeutic massage may be an essential aid in managing the condition as well as reducing its impacts on the body.

At our Minneapolis massage school we train our students in a variety of bodywork therapy techniques so they are prepared to offer natural, holistic health care. To find out more about our massage and shiatsu programs, click here.  






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