Massage is seen as a luxury we participate in during vacation or on a special occasion. However, according to Allied Health Schools, massage dates all the way back to 2700 BC and was originally used in medicine.
My husband and I book a couple’s massage about twice a year. Being that I am a type 1 diabetic, I couldn’t help but notice that my blood sugar was usually lower after a session. At first, I believed it to be coincidence, but decided to pay closer attention the next time. When my blood sugar dropped 54 points after a 60 minute, deep tissue massage, I was fascinated and began to read into it.
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1. Medline states that massage controls and reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, which diabetics tend to have an excess of. Cortisol raises blood sugar and decreases insulin sensitivity, and massage counteracts this.
2. In the same Medline study, type 1 diabetic children were given daily, full body massages by their parents. The average blood sugar numbers decreased from 158 mg/dl to 118 mg/dl (that’s milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood if you’re lucky enough to not be familiar with diabetes!)
4. Massage Magazine notes that 6 weeks of acupressure, along with breathing exercises, can reduce blood sugar, anxiety, headaches, anger, depression and stress, along with improving sleep and relationships.
5. Massaging injection sites can increase insulin absorption.
6. Circulation is improved, delivering more oxygen to the tissues, benefiting overall well-being and preventing neuropathy. When blood is flowing better, the body uses insulin more efficiently.
7. Diabetes thickens tissues and can cause stiffness in muscles, which decreases mobility over time. Making massage a regular part of your routine will not only prevent this, but help treat it.
8. The average reduction of blood sugar after a Swedish massage is about 20-40 mg/dl.
9. Diabetics can experience increased pain and Fibromyalgia, which massage can relieve.
10. Digestion can be improved, helping calm a variety of gastric issues.
There is enough evidence to call for controlled scientific studies that prove the efficacy of massage as a part of medical care. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the money to head to the nearest spa every week for a rub down. Until a day that certain spa treatments are covered by insurance, there remain ways to access the benefits now.
Alternative care centers focus on natural interventions before they tell their patients to start throwing back the pills, which can actually make things worse. I have done a lot of research on alternative treatment centers, particularly the Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta. They incorporate a list of natural approaches to treat disease and search for the root of the problem. Although they do not specifically treat diabetes with methods such as massage, they use it along with acupuncture and chiropractic care to treat symptoms such as pain. These methods also support a healthy nervous system, which aids diabetics. I highly recommend visiting Progressive, or somewhere similar if you aren’t close to Atlanta.
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.