Diabetes is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent health ailments worldwide. While oftentimes it is very manageable, it can also be very dangerous when left unchecked. In fact, the World Health Organization has predicted that it could become the seventh leading cause of death globally by the year 2030. One of the most important aspects of living with diabetes is ensuring good blood circulation to help better manage blood glucose levels (blood sugar) and promote the effective utilization of insulin by the body.
Massage chairs have come into popularity being paired with diabetes treatments, as they’ve been shown to potentially help with stress relief, blood pressure management, and bodily healing. Today, we’re exploring the answer to, “can diabetics use massage chairs?” (spoiler: yes!) and how they may benefit from them.
What Is Diabetes?
Before we hop into the question, “can diabetics use massage chairs?” let’s first learn what diabetes is. According to the Center for Disease Control, diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body converts food into energy. When you eat, most of your food is broken down into sugar (called glucose) and is released into the bloodstream. When blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin to regulate it, allowing the glucose into your cells for use as energy.
When you’re diabetic, your body is either not producing enough insulin or not using insulin as it should. When there’s not enough insulin or your cells stop responding to it properly, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream and can become very dangerous to your health. If left unchecked, high blood sugar levels can result in severe health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
Types of Diabetes
While there are 34.2 million adults in America living with diabetes, almost 1 in 5 are undiagnosed. This is partly due to the fact that there isn’t just one type of diabetes. There are, in fact, three major types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational.
Type 1 diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from making insulin. Basically, the body attacks itself by mistake. This type makes up roughly 5-10% of diabetics. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes most often develop fairly quickly and are diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults.
Type 2 diabetes is determined when your body doesn’t use insulin the insulin it produces properly and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. This type of diabetes makes up the majority of people living with the condition (90-95%).
The last major form of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This may develop in pregnant women who are not otherwise diabetic. If you develop gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems. While gestational diabetes typically goes away on its own after the baby is born, it may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.
Correlation Between Diabetes and Massage Benefits
What is the correlation between diabetes and massage benefits, you ask? A major part of diabetes treatment is managing blood sugar and blood pressure levels. This is critical for keeping insulin levels in check and making sure the body is producing (and using) it to function properly.
Establishing and maintaining good blood flow and circulation throughout the body is key, making massage a potentially effective tool for pairing with medically-advised treatments. Not only does this help regulate blood sugar levels, but it may also help with neuropathic pain often experienced by diabetics.
Neuropathic pain is caused by damage or injury to the nerves that transfer information between the brain and spinal cord from the skin, muscles and other parts of the body. Frequently described as a burning sensation and sensitive to the touch, many diabetics experience neuropathic pain in their feet.
Can Diabetics Use Massage Chairs Instead of Human Massage?
Absolutely! Since making regular massage therapist appointments is both time-consuming and expensive, many have turned to the benefits of massage therapy at home using a massage chair, instead. The evolution of today’s luxury massage chairs have effectively eliminated any differences between using a massage chair vs human massage, making the benefits of owning a massage chair impossible to overlook.
A few ways diabetes can use massage chairs to benefit their condition include:
- Improving blood circulation
- Protecting flexibility and mobility of connective tissue
- Alleviating stress
- Relieving nerve pain and restoring nerve function with foot and calf massagers
- Better insulin absorption
Before you begin any form of massage therapy for diabetes, it’s important to consult your doctor to be sure it’s safe. Most cases of diabetes are manageable and you should follow medical advice.
Using Massage Chairs to Improve Circulation for Diabetics
As we mentioned, one of the most important aspects of treating diabetes is managing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Getting a therapeutic massage may help improve blood flow throughout the body, improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. It helps de-constrict blood vessels which might aid in alleviating discomfort in the legs and feet from neuropathy. Massage may also improve cellular intake of glucose by promoting insulin absorption and utilization, a vital component of managing diabetes.
While there are many different types of massage programs available in the best full body massage chairs, consider choosing a gentle program for diabetes management. There are certainly deep tissue massage benefits to be had using a massage chair, but too intense a massage program may have adverse effects.
Note: It’s also advised that diabetics check their blood sugar levels within an hour or two of getting a massage to see how it may have changed.
Massage Chairs for Flexibility and Mobility Protection
Continuing our exploration of “can diabetics use massage chairs?” brings us to protecting mobility and flexibility. Advanced massage chairs with body scanning technology, custom programming, and even AI massage technology can help improve mobility and increase flexibility in people living with diabetes.
In the human body, connective tissue binds, supports or separates other types of tissues. High blood sugar experienced by diabetics can gradually thicken the connective tissue, causing stiffness and inflexibility in muscles, tendons and ligaments. In time, this can decrease range of motion and result in joint pain and limited mobility.
The stretching, kneading, and tapping programs found in many luxury massage chairs can help increase flexibility and mobility, protecting your range of motion. Using a massage chair could help increase tissue elasticity and reverse the thickening of connective tissue in your body.
Managing Stress in a Massage Chair
You may be familiar with how full body massages reduce stress, but did you know it may also help control blood sugar levels? The physical and mental stress of living with a chronic illness like diabetes can take a serious toll on the body. This stress also contributes to worsening a diabetic’s condition as stress causes blood glucose levels to rise higher.
Foot and Calf Massagers for Circulation and Neuropathy
We couldn’t address the question, “can diabetics use massage chairs?” without talking about foot and leg massagers. Are foot massagers good for diabetics? They definitely can be! One of the common symptoms associated with diabetes is neuropathic pain in the feet (and legs). Additionally, circulation to the feet and legs is a common complication experienced by those living with diabetes and can be cause for concern.
Many of today’s best massage chair models come with reflexology settings that can be a diabetic’s new best friend. Massage chairs with electric foot rollers provide gentle programs that could stimulate blood circulation to these extremities. These electric foot massagers, when applied to the neuropathic areas, could help relax nerves while working to restore their functionality and sensation.
So are foot massagers good for diabetics? We’d certainly say so!
Better Insulin Absorption for Diabetics Using a Massage Chair
The last item on our journey to answer, “can diabetics use massage chairs?” has to deal with their potential to help with better insulin absorption. As massage chairs improve circulation, they also may improve the circulation and absorption of insulin throughout the body. This is ideal for helping manage blood sugar levels. As a bonus, the movement of blood throughout the body may also help flush toxins from your system, helping build a strong immune system and helping you maintain a healthier lifestyle.
As you can see, the answer to, “can diabetics use massage chairs?” is most often a resounding yes. Massage has been shown to be an effective method for improving blood circulation, which may contribute to a wealth of positive health benefits for managing diabetes. Choosing a massage chair to meet your needs may be the best decision you’ll ever make, and certainly one you won’t regret! As always, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any new health routines for managing diabetes to ensure it's safe for you to do so.
Want to learn more about the benefits of owning a massage chair and how it could enhance your lifestyle? Check out these resources: