Friday, May 31, 2013

Stress, Diabetes, and Massage Therapy

By Rosie B.

Stress causes the release of stress hormones and those hormones can affect the diabetic’s blood sugar control negatively. It’s hard to think of stress as being or causing a series of chemical reactions in the body, but it does. Stress is a normal part of life, but how we deal with that stress can keep it from spiraling into a health problem.

Stress and diabetes sometimes results in high blood sugars. Massage has been shown repeatedly to have a beneficial effect on anxiety. Diabetics experiencing anxiety are at risk for poor blood sugar control. Massage therapy for diabetics helps reduce that stress.
Massage calms the nervous system, bringing stress hormones down to normal levels; in turn blood sugars are easier to control.
Diabetes can have a dangerous effect on the circulatory system. Diabetics tend to have problems with circulation because high blood sugars can cause hardening of the arteries. This poor flow of blood tends to occur first in the feet, since they are so far from the heart.

Massage improves circulation of blood in general, including to the extremities, decreasing this blocking effect of diabetes.
When poor circulation occurs, poor healing of wounds and infections also occurs. That is why diabetics sometimes develop sores on the foot. Massage therapy for diabetics improves feeling (sensation) and circulation, so it can help prevent this common problem. With improved blood (and lymph) flow from therapeutic massage, the body is more able to fight infections in the body. Circulation is critical for good health. It is impaired in the diabetic. Massage improves circulation dramatically.
Elevated blood sugars, because of stress hormones and poor circulation, cause the tissues around the muscles and tendons to become thicker. Diabetes can cause stiffness and decreased mobility in the diabetic’s muscles and other soft tissues. Massage therapy for diabetics treats this problem directly by manipulating these tissues in a way that causes them to be less stiff. Range of motion improves, so does general mobility of the whole body. Improved bodily movement enables the diabetic to do more exercise which has a beneficial effect on diabetes. 

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