While exercises for neuropathy cannot reverse the effects of neuropathy, it can certainly help you become physically active and manage diabetes efficiently.
To lead a healthy lifestyle, especially when one has diabetes, exercise plays an extremely important role. It can help reduce your body’s fat levels, boost your cardiovascular health, and manage blood sugar to a certain extent.
There is some conflict among scientific studies about the effect of exercise on neuropathy. One camp holds that exercise can help manage nerve damage and the other believes that breaking a sweat can worsen a person’s neuropathic condition. Always consult your doctor to decide if exercising is a suitable option for you or not.
If you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your doc, let’s dig into different types of workout routines.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (Foot Pain Exercises)
Learn more about four workouts believed to be effective for people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Which one sounds good to you?
Low-Impact Aerobic (Cardio) Exercises for Neuropathy
Aerobic exercises, also known as cardio, help you move your muscles, improve your vascular health, and cause you to take deep breaths. This causes your blood flow to increase and endorphins to release. Your body is super cool and this process acts as a natural painkiller for the body and helps encourage pain relief. Neat, right?
If you want to get going on your cardio, start with a routine activity for about half an hour a day, for at least 3 days per week. If 30 minutes is too much for you to handle, start lower. It’s better to start slow and stick with it than overshoot and give up!
While running is always thought of as the primary cardio activity, swimming and bicycling are great options as well. The key is finding something that you like—or that you will at least do. 🙂
Many people dealing with peripheral neuropathy sometimes feel weakness and stiffness in their muscles and joints. This can lead to balance problems.
If this sounds like you, consider doing some balance training, which can help reduce the chances of falling. One-legged exercises such as planks, core exercises, cable chops, dead-bugs, and so on are great choices for more experienced people.
If you’re not that experienced or want to just dip your toe in the balance training water, calf and side leg raises are worth a shot.
How to Do Calf Raises
Calf raises are really easy to do and you’ll be surprise at the benefits you earn.
- Use the support of a counter or a chair to steady yourself.
- Now, lift both your heels off the ground and try to stand on your toes.
- Once you’re successfully standing on your toes, lower yourself very slowly, and repeat the same steps about 10 times.
If you fail to do so in the first try, don’t panic. Practice makes perfect so keep trying until you succeed.
How to Do Side Leg Raises
Side leg raises are great exercises for neuropathy.
- Once again, using the support of a counter or chair, steady yourself using one hand.
- Stand upright with your feet slightly apart from each other.
- Now, slowly raise your one leg to the side and hold the position for five to ten seconds.
- Slowly lower your leg.
- Repeat the same steps with the other leg.
Once you’ve practiced this exercise enough times, try doing the same without taking support from the counter.
While balance exercises help in achieving a steady posture, stretching exercises help in increasing the flexibility of your body. They are also a great way to warm up your body before other heavy physical activity. Moreover, they make you less susceptible to injuries.
Check out two common stretching techniques and incorporate them in your daily routine.
How to Do a Seated Hamstring Stretch
The best part about this exercise for neuropathy? You can do it sitting down!
- Take a chair and sit on its edge.
- Start by extending your one leg in front of you while your toes are pointed upwards.
- Bending the knee of your free leg while laying your foot flat on the ground.
- Position your chest over your straight leg and slowly straighten your back.
- Do these until you can feel your muscles stretching.
How to Do a Calf Stretch
You might be surprised at how good these feel once you get going.
- Place your one leg behind you while your toes are pointing forward.
- Take a single step with your other foot and bend your knee slightly.
- Bend forward with the leg in the front and keep the heel of your back leg planted on the ground.
- Hold this position for about 15 seconds.
- Repeat three times for each leg.
Remember, while performing each peripheral neuropathy exercise, precautions are a must. Therefore, consulting a professional before approaching any workout routine is highly recommended.
Ulnar Neuropathy Exercises
Ulnar neuropathy can be a result of entrapment of the ulnar nerve with two major symptoms—numbness and tingling. Here are some neuropathy exercises that might be helpful.
Rotate Your Neck
- Either stand straight or sit in a chair.
- Keep your chin level, turn your head to the left, and hold for about 15-30 seconds.
- Repeat this with the other side.
Perform a Shoulder Blade Squeeze
- Stand straight with your arms positioned on both sides.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and make sure you don’t raise them while doing so.
- Hold this position for six seconds.
- Repeat 10 times.
Stretch Your Neck
This one is an easy one…nothing too complicated here.
- Stand straight while looking straight ahead in front of you.
- Tip your left ear to your left shoulder. Make sure you don’t let your right shoulder rise while doing so.
- Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds and tilt your head to the other side.
- Repeat four times for each side.
Extend and Flex Your Elbows
- Stand and let your arms relax at your sides.
- Bend your affected arm gently towards you. Take it as far as possible.
- Straighten your arm slowly and stretch it as much as you can.
- Repeat four times.
Warning: DO NOT overdo any exercises. We want you to feel better, not worse!
Good luck–we’re rooting for you.