While most people associate massage with relaxation and stress reduction, it also carries a number of physical benefits. Massage therapy helps to improve circulation and reduce tension in your muscles, and both of these effects are especially helpful for people who have diabetes. Improving your circulation helps to reduce pain associated with peripheral artery disease and diabetic neuropathy along with increasing your flexibility, so regular massage can be a great help in allowing you to move without pain and become more active. Here are three ways that massage therapy helps people with diabetes manage their symptoms.

1. Makes Your Ligaments and Tendons Less Tense, Increasing Flexibility

Elevated blood glucose can cause your ligaments and tendons to become thicker, which can cause your muscles to feel tense and reduce your flexibility. Massage therapy can help by gently stretching and massaging these ligaments and tendons, causing them to become more limber and reducing the tension that you feel. If you constantly suffer from stiffness and a lack of flexibility due to the effects of diabetes, combining massage therapy with physical therapy is a great way to increase your mobility and the pain you feel when you move around.

2. Helps to Reduce Pain Caused by Poor Circulation

Many people who have diabetes also suffer from peripheral artery disease, in which some of your smaller arteries become narrowed by fat deposits, decreasing their ability to deliver blood to your tissues. This condition most often affects the legs, and it can cause severe pain. Severe peripheral artery disease can restrict blood flow to your skin, eventually resulting in your skin tissue dying off and causing diabetic ulcers to form.

If you suffer from peripheral artery disease or if your diabetes is causing poor circulation in your legs, massage therapy can help by boosting circulation in the affected areas. This helps blood flow freely through your arteries and deliver oxygen to your tissues, which can help to decrease pain associated with peripheral artery disease and protect your skin from becoming damaged due to poor circulation.

3. Improves Circulation to Help Reduce Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms

Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most painful complications associated with diabetes. It occurs when excess levels of blood glucose begin to damage the body's nerves, and it's most commonly felt in the feet. If you suffer from diabetic neuropathy, you may experience alternating pain, numbness and burning sensations in the areas of your body where nerves have been damaged.

Massage therapy's ability to boost circulation can also help alleviate the pain and numbness caused by diabetic neuropathy. Note that if you have diabetic neuropathy, it's important to inform your massage therapist, especially if a source of heat will be used during your massage — diabetic neuropathy can cause you to have difficulty gauging temperature, and your massage therapist will need to constantly monitor the temperature of the heat source on his or her own in order to make sure it remains at a safe level.

Overall, massage therapy provides a number of benefits that aid people who have diabetes. If you have diabetes, you should consider including regular massage therapy as part of your overall care plan — it can help reduce pain caused by diabetes while improving your flexibility and allowing you to become more active. In addition, massage therapy is also a great way to simply relax and reduce stress. Contact a local massage therapist or chiropractic clinic like Burgman Chiropractic Clinic PC to schedule an appointment — massage sessions are inexpensive and you'll typically see results quickly.