Stretching Program to Lower Blood Glucose
In 2011, the Journal of Physiotherapy published a research study by Nelson, Kokkonen, and Arnall showing that a program of passive static stretches could lower blood glucose by an average of 18 percent after 20 minutes and 26 percent after 40 minutes. These researchers concluded that static stretching is an additional viable activity that can acutely help regulate blood glucose. Moreover, since stretching requires little effort, it appears to be an advantageous treatment for those with reduced physical capabilities. It can also be done without any additional equipment, facilities, or expenses and should easily fit into the repertoire of treatment modalities of any person with diabetes. In addition, since all the stretches in the study were done passively with the help of an assistant, if the person does the stretches actively by himself, the lowering effect on blood glucose should be greater.
The lowering of blood glucose by stretching relies on two major physiological principles. First, to enhance glucose transport out of the blood and into the muscles, the muscles should be held in the stretched position for at least 30 seconds. Second, holding a stretch for more than 30 seconds increases blood flow throughout the muscles, and improved blood flow is important for reducing blood glucose. Thus the stretching program detailed here and in the table is designed to first increase transport of glucose from the blood into the muscles and then to periodically enhance blood flow through each large muscle group.
- Hold the stretch position for 30 to 40 seconds each stretch.
- Rest for 15 seconds between stretches.
- Repeat each stretch four times.
- Use an intensity level on the scale from 1 to 3, with light pain sensation.
- Do all four stretches on one limb before doing the same stretches on the opposite limb.
- Do the stretches in the order listed in table 9.5.