Exercising with Peripheral Neuropathy
Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering from peripheral neuropathy? This condition can cause you to lose feeling in your feet and legs, experience painful sensations (including tingling, burning, shocking, and freezing), lose muscle strength and coordination, and more. It is extremely common in people with diabetes, though there are other causes, too.
If you do have neuropathy, a healthy lifestyle—including regular exercise—is one of the best ways to reduce painful sensations, control sugar levels, and slow the progression rate of nerve damage. The higher your cardiovascular fitness, the better your body can deliver vital oxygen and nutrients to low circulation areas like the feet, toes, and peripheral nerves.
Unfortunately, this can put neuropathy suffers a bit between a rock and a hard place. You need to exercise to control your neuropathy. But the neuropathy itself makes exercise not just more difficult, but also more dangerous. If you can’t feel what’s happening to your feet while you work out, you might suffer a cut, blister, or even a broken bone without knowing it. The longer it goes unaddressed, the more likely the problem is to spiral out of control.
That’s why safe exercise is so important, especially if you have a history of ulcers or foot problems. Below, you’ll find some tips on ways to exercise with neuropathy; keep in mind, though, that if you do have reduced sensation or circulation in your feet, you should always check in with a doctor first before starting an exercise program.
- Protect your feet. Exercising barefoot or in shoes that are worn out or don’t fit is a big no-no. Wear comfortable, properly fitting athletic shoes in good repair at all times. Arch supports, custom orthotics, or diabetic shoes may also be recommended by your foot specialist.
- Go for low-impact workouts. Brisk walking is one of the easiest and best exercises for neuropathy, especially for seniors or those with limited range of motion. Biking and swimming are good choices, too, as well as yoga. If you have severe neuropathy, avoid vigorous sports that are hard on feet and joints, like running or basketball.
- Work on strength and flexibility. Stronger leg muscles and improved range of motion in your ankles and other joints will help your feet do a better job of resisting damage and injury. Range of motion exercises (ankle rotations, for example) are also good for stimulating nerve conduction.
If you have diabetes or diabetic neuropathy, make sure you check in with Dr. Marizeli Olacio and the caring specialists at Omega Medical Group (OMG) at least once per year for a full checkup. Doing so can ensure you get the proactive care you need to keep healthy, functional feet and nerves long into the future! Give us a call today at (305) 514-0404.