Jan 2015 31

Massage and diabetes

By: Dave Wheeler

Diabetes currently affects about 3.1 million people in England, with the figure expected to rise to 4.6 million by 2030.

There are 2 types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes
  2. Type 2 diabetes


Type 1 diabetes

In type 1 diabetes the pancreas (a small gland behind the stomach) doesn't produce any insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin moves the body out of the blood and into the cells of the body to produce energy.

Without insulin to move sugar into the body for energy production, the body will break down its own fat and muscle to get the energy, resulting in weight loss.

Patients with type 1 diabetes, need regular insulin injections to regulate the blood sugar levels.


Type 2 diabetes

90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes which is when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly.

Type 2 diabetes is normally treated by changes to diet and exercise. In some cases, medication may be prescribed.


Massage and diabetes

A person with diabetes can usually have massage in the same way as any other person. The only caveat is that a sports or deep tissue massage can have the same effect on the body as a workout at the gym - so the patient should have a readily available source of carbs available which they may need towards the end, or after the session.

Research from the American Diabetes Association in 2001 shows that patients with type 1 diabetes can improve the uptake of injected insulin by massaging the injection site for 3 minutes, 15 minutes are the injection. 

There's one time when this isnt' true - it's called a contraindication. If the level of insulin hasn't been regulated through medication or lifestyle, blood vessels in the extremeties (especially the feet) can be affected by the high glucose levels in the blood. Where this is the case, the area must not be massaged.

As ever, if you think I can help, give me a call.