Neuropathy is a condition that often discourages movement. Feeling tingling, numbness, or shooting pain throughout the feet and legs doesn’t really inspire people to engage in physical activities. It can even sap one’s confidence in getting out of the house at all!
We get it.
But the irony here is, although peripheral neuropathy may not make you feel like exercising, doing so can actually help you manage your symptoms.
Making a push with a solid, customized workout plan can provide better blood flow to your feet. This can help manage symptoms of pain and discomfort, as well as prevent the progression of the condition from making symptoms worse. And, of course, it’s good for your overall health, too!
The bottom line is exercising with neuropathy is a winning move. But you must make sure you do so in ways that will keep you safe as well as motivated. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Check with Your Doctor First
This tip is the most important. Anytime you are thinking of starting up a new exercise routine, when factors such as peripheral neuropathy and contributing conditions such as diabetes are at play, it is best to discuss them with a medical professional who knows your history.
This approach helps you in three big ways. First, a professional can help you sculpt and prepare for a plan that places you at less risk of injury. There is nothing that can kill a motivated drive more than having to sit out for a few weeks with Achilles tendinitis or another painful mishap.
Second, a professional can help you tailor the activities you love in ways that will have the best ultimate effect on your pain relief and other goals. If an injury kills motivation, seeing results sooner builds it!
Third, having feedback is a great way to not only stay accountable, but discover new and fun activities you might not have considered.
No matter what recommendations are made to you, be as mindful as you can be to your body. If you do feel pain during a workout, stop the activity. And if you suspect you have injured your feet in any way, let us know right away!
Alternate Between Exercises
Performing just one type of exercise is better than nothing, but variety is key.
Not only do variances in workouts provide more holistic benefits, they also help keep your routine from becoming boring all too quickly.
When considering a plan, these four elements should often be included (although, once again, check with a trusted doctor first):
- Low-Impact Aerobics. This form of exercise can help improve general blood vessel health, as well as reduce levels of blood sugar and cholesterol within them. All of this adds up to improved blood flow to your hands and feet, boosting nerve health. Swimming and cycling may be good options, as they place less impact force upon the feet.
- Strength Training. Building strength is important for increasing endurance and further reducing injury risks. Simple strength routines focusing on the lower body can involve at-home exercises such as calf raises, squats, and seated flexes. Of course, your upper body doesn’t have to be left out of a plan, and the gym is also a potential source of strength equipment.
- Stability Training. Working on coordination and balance are crucial elements of fighting neuropathy. The older we get, the higher our risk of falls. According to a study published in the International Journal of Nursing Sciences, adults with neuropathy have a risk 23 times higher than those without!
- Mindful Exercise. Yes, we are talking forms such as yoga and tai chi here. These exercises are good at reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, building balance, and dealing with inflammation. Also, you might be surprised how advanced classes can really get blood pumping and even build strength! Meditative exercise can fit in well both in a “cool-down” day or as a more intensive cardio and strength combo.
Whatever the plan is, make sure it is something you enjoy doing. Do not be afraid to express that something just isn’t working for you. Alternatives can often be found!
Wear the Right Shoes
Given the higher risks associated with injury to your feet, having the right footwear to cushion and protect them against the stresses they may endure is vital.
Helpful elements to look for in workout shoes are midsoles made of silica gel or cushioning air to reduce stress on the feet. The shoes should also be wide enough and large enough to be comfortable when fully standing and bearing weight. Some patients with neuropathy may wear shoes that are too tight in order to feel them more distinctly, but this is not healthy for your feet.
Make Exercise Part of a Full Treatment Plan
Physical activity can have huge returns in a neuropathy treatment and management plan, but it is not the only method that should be considered.
Changes in diet, diabetes management, shoes, and other lifestyle elements can also be of benefit. And in some cases, additional forms of treatment can help with pain and other unwanted sensations.
If peripheral neuropathy is part of your life, Fixing Feet Institute wants to help you face it with the most effective approach possible, so you can do the activities you love without the effects of nerve damage holding you back!