When you have pain, tingling, and/or numbness in your feet as a result of peripheral neuropathy, your first reaction might be to take those symptoms as a sign that you should greatly limit your movement. However, that should not be the case if you can avoid it!
Exercise is a crucial element in helping you manage peripheral neuropathy and its underlying causes. Regular exercise can:
- Help reduce pain due to peripheral neuropathy.
- Improve blood flow to your extremities.
- Improve muscle strength, coordination, and balance.
- Help control blood sugar levels, should diabetic complications be a contributing factor to your condition.
Of course, the thought that an activity that might cause you pain can also help you reduce it may sound somewhat self-defeating. Let us assure you, though, that exercising really is beneficial for your peripheral neuropathy symptoms. The key is planning an exercise routine that limits your discomfort while increasing the benefits to your health.
What Can Exercising with Peripheral Neuropathy Look Like?
Getting proper exercise does not have to mean running a marathon or deadlifting at your local gym. Regular lower-intensity activity can still greatly improve your peripheral neuropathy symptoms, not to mention your overall health.
Elements of exercise you should build a plan around include:
- Stretching. All exercise routines should start with stretching. This helps prepare your muscles and connected soft tissues for activity, and help you improve or maintain flexibility, range of motion, and spatial awareness. This in turn decreases your risk of developing overuse injuries, which can force you to halt exercise until you recover.
- Aerobic Exercise. The tenets of aerobic exercise are increased heart and breathing rates. The primary benefits are improved circulation, which helps your body (including your nerve cells) more efficiently receive the nutrients and growth factors they need for life and repair, as well as the release of natural, pain-relieving endorphins.
- Strength and Balance Training. Increasing your muscle strength and your coordination go hand-in-hand toward keeping your body more resilient against injury—both from overuse injuries and potential loss of stability.
How you build a plan around these elements greatly relies on your current health, comfort, and other factors—but the important part is to be doing something.
Remember that it does not have to start with anything intense. A brisk walk counts as aerobic exercise, for example, and there are many stretching, strength, and balance exercises you can do in your own home while seated, with no equipment needed.
The most important part is building a plan you can achieve safely and effectively. With that said…
The Best First Step to a Lasting Exercise Plan
The best first step you can take toward organizing an exercise routine for your peripheral neuropathy is consulting with an expert.
A general physician or specialist who understands your current condition and fitness levels can help you build a plan that can begin to address your specific needs with a greatly reduced risk of injury or complications. An approach that is customized and properly paced over time has much better odds of success than one that relies on simple guesswork or trial and error—especially if you find you bite off more than you can chew.
If you are already receiving treatment for peripheral neuropathy from us—perhaps in addition to other recommendations such as Neurogenx and custom orthotics—we would be happy to discuss an exercise plan with you.
And if we have already recommended certain exercises for you, but you have ambitions for new activities or goals, please let us know of those as well! We want to build on the excitement of patients to be active, and will help however we can with further recommendations on achieving your goals in the best and safest ways possible.
(Also, if we are not currently treating you for peripheral neuropathy, please don’t wait to start getting the help you need!)
Call our Spring Valley podiatry office at (845) 352-7507 to schedule an appointment with us. If you would rather contact us or schedule an appointment electronically, we have a webpage for that! Click here to access our scheduler or send us any questions you may have.