In addition to describing your symptoms of hypoglycemia or lack thereof, be sure to explain to your massage therapist how you treat it. Bring glucose tablets, juice, or your usual hypoglycemia treatment to your massage sessions. By taking these precautions, massage can be safely enjoyed by a person with diabetes.
During a massage session, your therapist is likely to ask how you’re feeling. Do not be afraid to tell the therapist what you need and to give honest feedback about your experience. This is an opportunity for both therapist and client to learn from each other, enjoying the experience of giving and receiving massage. No matter what specific type of therapy is used, it is the communication and rapport between therapist and client that is most important.
If you have particular needs and concerns, share those with the therapist. Certain diabetic complications may make certain massage techniques more or less preferable. For example, if a person has peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves of the hands and feet) and is very sensitive to touch, the techniques of Comfort Touch, a nurturing form of acupressure, may be the most comfortable. (Click on “Further Reading About Massage” for more information on Comfort Touch.) But any type of massage can be adapted by a skilled therapist. Let the therapist know what is most helpful to you.
In addition to making your needs known, do your part to make the massage comfortable and relaxing. Remember that it is OK to stop and drink some juice during a massage if you need to. Let your therapist know if you have time constraints. For example, a one-hour massage may be most appropriate. A session that is too long may put you at risk for hypoglycemia, defeating the whole purpose of a relaxing massage.
An integral part of management
Massage can give a wonderful psychological boost to someone who is living with diabetes and striving to balance all the factors involved in maintaining a healthy lifestyle—proper nutrition, adequate exercise, blood glucose monitoring, appropriate use of medicines, and stress management. Massage therapy contributes an important piece to my diabetes regimen of care. I hope that as other people with diabetes understand and experience the benefits of massage therapy, they can consider it a valuable part of their own integrated health-care program.