“But, Doctor, It Hurts When I Exercise” is a commonly discussed issue with patients. If you struggle with neuropathy, complications from diabetes, post-chemo nerve pain, or any other painful medical condition, it can be really easy to just do nothing.
By now, everyone knows that exercise is good for you.
It helps to not only lose weight but keep your weight under control…
Using bicycles and similar low-impact equipment can be very beneficial.
It strengthens your bones…
It improves your cardiovascular health…
It has even been shown to fight depression…
And if you happen to have diabetes, you know how important exercise is in managing your glucose levels.
But what do you do when your neuropathy or some other painful condition just makes it hurt to work out?
If you struggle with neuropathy, complications from diabetes, post-chemo nerve pain, or any other painful medical condition, it can be really easy to just sit around and do nothing.
Because it just hurts too much to be active.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are exercises you can do that won’t tax your painful joints or cause you more pain than you already have.
Here are a few exercises to consider that are easy on the body and only require gentle movements:
Yoga will keep you limber and stretches the muscles in slow, easy, fluid movements. You can do it as slowly as you like. You don’t have to qualify as a Cirque Du Soleil acrobat to get the benefits of a good yoga practice. Just do the postures to the best of your ability. If it has been a while since you’ve exercised, don’t expect to be limber overnight. Give yourself time.
Yoga stretches the muscles and increases muscle strength simply by using the body’s own weight. No extra equipment, no extra weight on painful joints or swollen feet. Just what you already carry. That’s tailor made for people suffering from nerve pain.
Tai Chi is a very slow moving martial art. Each and every movement is done slowly and through a complete cycle, works every muscle group in the body. Even though it is not a strenuous exercise program, the health benefits for your bones and muscles are undeniable.
Once again, Tai Chi uses the body’s own weight to strengthen the muscles. Your sore joints and swollen tissue aren’t subjected to increased weight. And because the movements are slow and fluid, no added pain from sore muscles to complicate the symptoms of neuropathy that you already suffer from.
If your joints are so painful that walking is not a good option for exercise, try swimming. Your movements are easier in water and you will put little weight or pressure on your feet. Make sure that the water is warm, not cold. Prolonged exposure to cold water will have a detrimental effect on your circulation and make a bad situation worse.
Swimming is also a wonderful way to strengthen your cardiovascular system and do so without taxing your limited strength. If you suffer from pain in your legs and feet, the buoyancy of the water takes some of the pressure off your extremities. Just being in the water can provide some relief from the pain in your nerves.
Stretching exercises are a great way to increase muscle strength without causing your tender nerves more pain. You can even stretch while lying in bed.
This is a good stretching program that will give you a good total body stretch without ever getting on your feet. Do each of these small stretches 6 or 8 times:
- Start with your fingers and toes and gently stretch and contract them
- Next, move to your wrists and ankles and make circles with the joints
- Bend your elbows, bring your hands in to your shoulders
- Bend your knees, one at a time, toward your chest
- Bring your arms up to your ears and down, gently stretching your shoulder muscles
- Raise each leg, keep it straight, and raise it as far as you can.
None of these stretches requires a broad range of motion but will increase the circulation in your arms and legs and work your joints.
Remember, you don’t have to over exert yourself to stretch your muscles and improve your circulation. When you deal with debilitating pain, just doing those two things can lead to great improvement in your overall health condition.
Start small, take it easy and do the exercise you choose at your own pace. Be gentle with yourself. The more you do even the smallest exercise, the better you are going to feel. And that’s the best way to ensure a good outcome from any neuropathy treatment.
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“But, Doctor, It Hurts When I Exercise…” is a post from: Neuropathy | Neuropathy Doctors | Neuropathy Treatment | Neuropathy Treatments | Neuropathy Physical Therapists
For some, the prospect of neuropathy and exercise may seem not only unrealistic but an almost ironic misplacement of priorities. Exercise is important for everyone, though, neuropathy and exercise can help control blood sugar and actually slow down the progression and symptoms of the condition!
Exercising regularly greatly decreases anyone’s risk of diabetic neuropathy, and has been shown to control symptoms and deterioration in sufferers by elevating overall blood flow to the limbs and controlling cardiovascular atrophy. Depending on your specific type of neuropathy, areas affected, and the extent of the damage, you will have to adjust conventional workout routines to accommodate the condition. Ask your NeuropathyDR® clinician if you have questions, and be sure to consult them before beginning any workout program. Your clinician will inspect your feet and legs for signs of potential problems, and will help you make sure your shoes are properly fitted so as to avoid neuropathy-related injuries.
- Use silica gel or air midsoles
- Use polyester or polyester/cotton blend socks to keep your feet dry
- Avoid any workout clothes that rub against your skin in the same area.
Ann Albright of the Division of Diabetes Translation in Atlanta cautions that neuropathy patients will want to steer clear of most repetitive or weight-bearing exercise, such as running, walking, or extensive weight training (although some sources advocate weight training as beneficial, in moderation). So which exercises are the most beneficial while reducing risk?
Swimming is one of the best exercises, as it is an activity adaptable to any age, fitness level, or degree of neuropathy symptoms. Swimming is also a full-body, “no-impact” workout, and so is less harmful to your joints, legs, and feet than most other forms of exercise, without sacrificing circulation (ask any lap swimmer and they’ll tell you—swimming has no problem getting your heart rate up!) As such, it is highly recommended for almost anyone.
Bicycling, rowing, and use of a stationary bicycle are other excellent, low-impact activities that can be safely integrated into a neuropathy treatment program. Some organizations have even developed exercise programs for senior citizens suffering from neuropathy, incorporating a heavy emphasis on seated exercises.
If you don’t have regular access to facilities or equipment for more extensive exercise, there are some basic exercises you can do almost anywhere that can help your neuropathy! Here are some to try:
- For your hands, touch the pad of your thumb with your index finger, running the finger down to the base of your thumb. Then, repeat the movement with the index, middle, ring, and little fingers. Do this exercise several times.
- For your legs and feet, straighten one knee and point your foot. Flex your ankle five times, then circle your foot five times in each direction, clockwise and counterclockwise.
- To increase balance, try this exercise: from a standing position, rise up slowly on your tiptoes, and then rock backward onto your heels. Keep your knees straight, but try not to lock them.
Additional precautions are vital for neuropathy patients to observe. After every workout session, patients should remember to check their feet and any relevant extremities for blisters, irritation, or sores. These could be vulnerable to infections, which themselves could elevate risk for amputation.
It is important for neuropathy sufferers to be mindful of their heart rate and blood pressure. Especially if you suffer from autonomic neuropathy, which can greatly increase risk of heart failure or cardiac arrest, be aware of your limitations when it comes to safe exercise. Don’t worry—there’s a way for everyone to exercise safely. If you have any doubts, consult your NeuropathyDR® clinician to review your workout plan.
Finally, be sure to monitor your body temperature. Neuropathy sufferers are at high risk when it comes to overheating, since some types of neuropathy can reduce the body’s ability to temperature-control. Consult your clinician if sweating seems overly profuse or the opposite, less than normal.
If you have any questions about neuropathy and exercise, contact us at NeuropathyDR or call
We can answer your questions and help put you in touch with a NeuropathyDR® clinician who can help you in person. Have a great workout!
You Can Reduce Neuropathy Symptoms Through Appropriate Movement, Even If Exercise Usually Tends to Be Painful.
Even if your neuropathy symptoms leave you feeling like it’s impossible to exercise…
There ARE ways to get moving and stay active while supporting your neuropathy treatment needs.
Your doctor will tell you that gentle, appropriate exercise will help you maintain a healthier weight, improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your bones, manage your blood sugar levels, and even help to ward off depression and anxiety.
The best exercise for reducing neuropathy symptoms is focused on gentle, fluid movement that isn’t jarring or overly taxing. Here are a few types of gentle exercise that you may want to consider as part of an overall treatment plan for neuropathy symptoms.
- Stretching is a basic but essential way to keep your body limber despite neuropathy symptoms. Try to develop a self-directed program of stretches that you do each day before getting out of bed as well as a few stretches to help you unwind before bed.
- Tai Chi is a type of martial art that involves very slowly and deliberately working each of the muscle groups in your body. It is considered a very gentle form of exercise that can also improve your circulation and improve mood.
- Some types of yoga are appropriate for people with neuropathy symptoms. Look for a class or video that is called “gentle” or “restorative” yoga. You don’t need to be particularly flexible or limber to participate in yoga and can move at your own pace.
- Swimming or a gentle version of water aerobics are both great movement choices for anyone who has difficulty or pain from walking. The support of warm water can help to loosen up your body and support your joints, as well as reducing pressure on your feet.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before undergoing any change in your activity level.
For more tips on reducing neuropathy symptoms, see our neuropathy owners manual: I Beat Neuropathy!
4 Gentle Exercises for Reducing Neuropathy Symptoms is a post from: #1 in Neuropathy & Chronic Pain Treatment
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No Neuropathy Treatment Plan is Complete Without a Strategy for Physical Activity to Enhance Health.
You already know that physical exercise is good for everyone.
It’s easy to think that this general advice about movement for good health just doesn’t apply to someone like you who is struggling with neuropathy pain or numbness.
After all, many people undergoing neuropathy treatment have a hard time with mobility. It might seem absurd to think of yourself “exercising” when it’s hard to even reliably walk without falling, or when neuropathy pain makes it uncomfortable to be very active.
However, the fact is that your health is on a downhill decline as long as you are living a sedentary lifestyle. Inactivity contributes to problems with metabolism, which can lead in turn to diabetes and other global health problems. It can also make your neuropathy symptoms worse.
And there ARE safe and effective ways for people in neuropathy treatment to become more active on a day to day basis.
For example, people who struggle with walking because of neuropathic pain in the legs or feet can have good success with low-impact exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike. You might also consider exercises done in a heated pool. Chair yoga and stretching are also appropriate ways to incorporate gentle movement into your day.
The best part of incorporating more movement into your daily routine is that it’s simple to add just a little exercise here and there. Even making sure that five minutes out of every hour contains some kind of physical activity will make an impact on your long-term health.
Be sure to talk with your neuropathy treatment clinician about the best kind, frequency, and duration of exercise for you and your unique health situation. Remember, in neuropathy treatment, there is no “one size fits all” prescription.
For more information about ways to enhance your neuropathy treatment through diet and exercise, take a look at our neuropathy owners manual, I Beat Neuropathy!
Does Your Neuropathy Treatment Include Exercise and Movement? is a post from: #1 in Neuropathy & Chronic Pain Treatment
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If it seems to you that exercise for diabetic neuropathy sounds like a path to pain and discomfort, read these tips for turning exercise into a beneficial factor for your health.
Exercise is always a beneficial element of a healthy lifestyle. Yes, even for people with diabetic neuropathy! In fact, diabetics need regular exercise to help control blood sugar and to slow down the onset of new diabetes symptoms by maintaining good circulation and heart health.
It’s true that neuropathy can make your daily activities seem much harder, and some physical movements such as walking can become more difficult. But there are ways to safely and effectively exercise for diabetic neuropathy.
Before beginning any exercise program, be sure to talk with your NeuropathyDR® clinician about workout adjustments to accommodate your specific health needs. You’ll also want to consider exercise clothes and shoes to help prevent injury, including silica gel midsoles.
Which exercises should you stay away from? For most individuals with diabetic neuropathy, weight-bearing or repetitive exercises like walking or running can be harmful and make symptoms worse. There’s some debate about weight training, which could be beneficial in small doses but potentially harmful in excess.
The best exercise for diabetic neuropathy may swimming, which is adaptable for any fitness level and can be easily modified to alleviate neuropathy symptoms. As a no-impact exercise, swimming is the least likely to cause harm to your feet, legs, or joints but also offers great benefits for circulation.
Another great exercise for diabetic neuropathy is biking, whether you’re riding an actual bicycle or a stationary bike. This low-impact activity can easily be built into your overall treatment program for neuropathy.
Keep in mind that even the most basic, minimal types of exercise can be beneficial! For example, a simple and effective stretch for your feet and legs involves flexing your ankle several times and then rotating the foot in each direction.
With any type of exercise, be sure to check your extremities (especially your feet) for any kind of sores, blisters, or irritation that can develop into an infection. Make sure you don’t get overheated, since many people with neuropathy have trouble regulating their body temperature. Also, keep an eye on your blood pressure and heart rate when exercising, particularly if you suffer from autonomic neuropathy.
What kind of exercise for diabetic neuropathy has helped you? Join the conversation at our Facebook page.
Exercise for Diabetic Neuropathy Can Be Helpful, Not Harmful is a post from: #1 in Neuropathy & Chronic Pain Treatment
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