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Benefits of massage for individuals with diabetes

There are many benefits of massage therapy for individuals who live with diabetes. Most of them are similar to the benefits of massage therapy for the general population, but let’s take a look at some areas that can be emphasized advantages, which are of particular interest for diabetics.

Relaxation: I cannot emphasize enough the value of basic relaxation. Blood sugar levels that are unpredictable can put tremendous strain on the body’s systems. By calming the nervous system, massage can bring a much-needed rest and an assuring sense of well-being to the body.

Circulation: It’s been proven that massage increases the circulation of blood and lymph which helps transport oxygen and other nutrients into the body’s tissues. Massage of the hands and feet can be beneficial for diabetics because circulation is often impaired in diabetics due to the damaging effects of elevated blood sugar levels.

Myofacial Massage Effects: Massage works directly with the muscles (mio) and connective tissues (fascia). Massage techniques helps facilitate greater mobility in the body. Since diabetes causes a thickening of connective tissue because of elevated blood sugars, it is especially important for individuals to have massage therapy on a regular basis. It is normal for individuals who live with diabetes to experience stiffness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as have decreased range of motion in the joints. Hormones that cause stress also contribute to chemical changes in the connective tissue, which causes the layers of the fascia to become sticky. Range of motion and stretching during massage can help to counteract this effect and help encourage flexibility and health of the myofacial system.

Massage can give a wonderful mental boost to someone who is living with this chronic disease and also striving to balance all the factors involved in maintaining a healthy lifestyle–proper nutrition, adequate exercise, blood glucose monitoring, appropriate use of medications and stress management.

Benefits Of Massage on Diabetes
by Valecia Weeks, Houston Forward Times
Massage 1

The science behind massage

[…]The most obvious and most often claimed benefit [to massage] is increased circulation. This is definitely true to the area being massaged, and the evidence is the skin having an increased reddish color, pretty simple.

Ok, so your neck hurts and rubbing increases the circulation, but so what, why does more blood in that area make it feel better?

The increase of blood flow delivers more nutrients to nerve and muscle cells and also aids in flushing away cellular toxins. As cellular health improves, the tissues function more efficiently. Body tissue that is starved of nutrients and oxygen heal slowly.

Just as if a garden hose has a kink in it, and then you undo that kink, the water has a burst of flow from the built up pressure, then the water flows easily through the hose again.

Ok, so back to that achy neck that you’ve been rubbing. Remember when you were little and you bumped your knee and just that little kiss from mom seemed to make it feel better? It really does! The sensation of pressure helps to block pain sensations from going to your brain. The idea of blocking pain with another sensation is commonly known as Gate Control Theory, even that shaking of your finger when you bang it with a hammer does the trick.

What else is going on when you get a massage?

When the muscles are tight or there has been an injury, the body develops adhesions, or bands of rigid tissue. These adhesions block circulation and limit movement. The tissue will “forget” that it can be looser and longer and muscles will stay contracted. Massage will physically break down these adhesions, softening them, stretching them or re-organizing them to go with the direction of the muscle fiber instead of against, to restore normal range of movement. Rubbing those muscles relaxes the tissue, reducing painful contractions and “reminding” the tissue that it can be looser.

And now our first big word of the day: Piezoelectricity. It actually means electricity resulting from pressure and parts of the body generate this electricity, including the repair material used after trauma or inflammation. The pressure from getting a massage stimulates, down to the molecule, that material to heal faster than it normally would.

It must be mentioned that massage doesn’t just feel pleasant and relax muscles, but also has a much more complex effect on your mental and emotional state. Massage therapy has been shown to reduce blood pressure, which is an indicator of stress.

When it feels good to be in your skin, you gain emotional and psychological benefits that are virtually impossible to measure. Massage can change your sense of self and be a catalyst for personal growth.

With all these benefits, you can see why regular massages (even once a month) are a good investment.[…]

The Science of Massage by Jennifer Kantzer

New study finds how massage affects stress hormone levels

Recently published in The Journal of Alternative and Contemporary Medicine, researchers tested the blood of 53 adults via intravenous catheters before and up to an hour after they received deep Swedish massages or light massages.

According to researcher Mark Hyman Rapaport and his colleagues at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, one session of massage may lead to immediate, significant positive biological changes.

The 29 adults who received 45-minute Swedish massages had small decreases in levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and large decreases in levels of arginine vasopressin, a hormone that can increase cortisol levels.

The 24 adults who received light massages had greater increases in levels of oxytocin, a contentment hormone, than those who received Swedish massages. This may mean light massage is just as beneficial as a deeper Swedish massage, which involves therapists using “long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration, and tapping,” according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.