Can I have Reflexology if I have Diabetes?
In very simple terms, yes you can have reflexology if your diabetes is well-managed and fairly stable with no additional complications. Diabetes presents in different ways in different people so it’s important that we take a holistic approach, look at what is happening for you as an individual, consider how your diabetes is managed and take a sensible, balanced view.
Complications of Diabetes which may mean you either can’t have a treatment or have a slightly adapted treatment
There are, however a few complications of diabetes what would mean that you wouldn’t be able to have a treatment or that the treatment would have to be adapted in some way.
Thin, Dry, Brittle skin that breaks easily
If you have very dry, thin, brittle skin that is prone to cracking there is a risk of the skin cracks allowing bacteria to get in. As one of the symptoms of diabetes is to have skin that is slow to heal, it would be inadvisable to have reflexology as we don’t want to increase the chance of infection.
Also if you have leg ulcers these will be very sore so foot reflexology would not be possible. It may be possible to offer Facial Reflexology instead.
If you have peripheral neuropathy (lack of feeling in your extremities including feet) then a lighter treatment might be offered, or in severe cases it may not be possible to offer a treatment.
Fungal Infections including Fungal Nail Infections
If you have a fungal infection including fungal nail infection then you will not be able to have a treatment until it has cleared up.
Gangrene of the legs or feet
If you have gangrene of the legs or feet then Reflexology is definitely contraindicated.
What should I do before my Reflexology treatment if I have diabetes?
Before your reflexology treatment, take your blood sugars. If you need to adjust them then do so.
It is useful to have to hand whatever remedies you would normally use to re-balance your blood sugars so that if you do notice a change following your treatment you can quickly and easily adjust them.
You are the expert and know what works for you! Whilst it is fairly unlikely one treatment would make a big change, it’s worth noticing.
What should I do after my treatment?
It would be a good idea to take your blood sugar levels again, just to double check that there has been no change to them. If there has been a change, then adjust them as you would normally do.
It is also vital to follow the usual Reflexology Aftercare Advice of drinking plenty of water, resting, avoiding stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods, and having a gentle stroll after dinner if you can.
Can Reflexology have a positive effect on diabetes?
Reflexology has a known effect on lowering stress levels. Studies have found that lowering stress levels can have a positive impact on blood sugar levels. So anything that would help you keep calm and less stressed has to be a good thing.
Reflexology is great for calming and creating a space and time just for you. It is also good for boosting the circulation. Circulation problems often go hand in hand with diabetes so again, Reflexology may be of benefit if you have diabetes.
I’ve not had a Reflexology treatment before, should I do anything different?
If you have not had reflexology before having a shorter, lighter treatment might be a good idea. Once you see how you feel after your treatment we can build up to full sessions. This can allow you to see if you have any healing responses to the treatment and to ensure that the pressure is at the correct level for you.
Medical Emergency Plan
If necessary, we may complete a Medical Emergency Plan for those of you who have hypoglycemic events or who need specific help in case of emergency. This is a simple form which needs filling in at the first appointment stating what you’d like me to do should you have a hypo etc. This is very straightforward and give us both peace of mind that if you do have a hypo (or other diabetes related crisis) I will have an action plan on a piece of paper attached to your notes that I can refer to to get you the help you need when you need it!
Keep Calm and Carry On!
Having regular Reflexology treatments can help maintain your stress levels. Reflexology has a cumulative effect and so if you have a course of treatments or a monthly treatment booked in the diary these will all start building up with a greater effect than just having one treatment.
Over a period of time you *may* be able to alter your treatment, under the guidance of your GP if your blood sugar levels start to lower. (This will need to be carefully monitored and adjustments made by your GP as necessary) Everyone reacts to Reflexology in a different way, so there is of course no guarantees.
Please read my article ‘What is Diabetes’ for more information about the different types of Diabetes.