Do Massages Aid Blood Sugar?

You may have heard that massages will aid blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity or stop you from absorbing sugar. The Neuliven Health team is interested in supporting health through lifestyle, diet and exercise, and help from our doctors. That makes us curious about claims that actions — like getting a massage — can help our bodies operate at peak performance. So, what is the science behind the claim?

The exact claims about how good massages are in helping blood sugar vary. Some say that getting massages will make you urinate sugar out of your body. Others claim it can help the body use sugar more effectively. The list of claims is extensive. If you Google it, you find websites for massage clinics selling treatments and message boards filled with people asking for advice.

Massages do have some known, proven medical benefits. They can improve blood flow and lower stress. Both of those things are important for health and normal blood sugar. A review of studies between 2000 and 2018 found that there some proof of lower blood sugar. In one study, adults who received 45-minute full-body massages three times a week for 12 weeks saw significant decreases in their blood sugar. The claim that massages will improve insulin sensitivity has no scientific backing.  

The good news is that, despite some rumors otherwise, massages are safe for people with blood sugar concerns. While we were researching this blog, we saw claims that massages are dangerous. If you have other medical problems, it might be unwise to get one. But blood sugar concerns should not stop you from getting a deep tissue massage, especially not in the face of the proof that they can be helpful!

Some doctors can refer their patients to trained massage practitioners. Depending on your needs, your insurance may cover them. You should discuss the research with your doctor and see if it’s right for you. Often, we need a mix of different ways to help our health. Your doctor knows your current routine and can help you make adjustments. Finding the right balance is key to living a happy, full life.

When we think of massages, we often picture spas and people treating themselves to a luxurious day out. But, in reality, almost three out of four people who receive massages have them for medical reasons. While our team often debunks myths from around the internet, massages really may help you manage your blood sugar. But they don’t appear to increase insulin sensitivity or do any of the other odd claims around the web.  

Banner image: Toa Heftiba via Unsplash
May 10, 2021
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