Home Health and Fitness The Best Exercises for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

The Best Exercises for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

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The Best Exercises for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a common chronic pathological condition or disease that affects diabetic patients. It is an incapacitating pathological condition that severely impacts the autonomic, sensory, and motor neurons. Diabetic neuropathy affects the nervous system and results in nerve damage along with other diseases and manifestations that cause disability in the nerves. Since neuropathy damages the nerves, it can cause severe disabilities in diabetic patients, along with poor recovery and diverse pathophysiology. 

Currently, medication and exercise therapies are the most common treatment options available for Diabetic Neuropathic Pain (DNP). But drugs and medications are believed to have various side effects on diabetic patients because they already take high-dose medicines for diabetics. Therefore, physiotherapy in Etobicoke is considered to be the most effective treatment method for diabetic neuropathy.

Regular exercise can help control your diabetes to an extent and can also play a pivotal role in alleviating nerve damage or pain. The specific pathological mechanism of diabetic neuropathic pain is still unclear and therefore, it’s best advised to consult with a physical therapist or neurologist before beginning any exercises. 

The Importance of Exercises for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

Physical exercise and manual therapies are believed to have the potential to decrease the disabilities experienced by diabetic patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy. Exercise routines that include stretching, balancing, etc can help in blood circulation and improve the nervous system. Therefore, it is considered an integral part of diabetic neuropathic pain management.

Moreover, it helps patients with diabetes in improving their blood glucose control, reduces cardiovascular risk factors, helps them control weight gain and reduces obesity, and most importantly exercises promote good health. Exercise has shown promising results on vascular and neuronal health as well. Specific exercises have proven to be well effective in the treatment as well as prevention of diabetic neuropathy by various novel mechanisms. Exercise may even contribute to diabetic neuropathy pain relief through other factors, such as:

  • Improves the intra-epidermal nerve fibers (IENFs)
  • Enhances inflammatory response
  • Improves the functioning of microRNA (miRNA)
  • Regulates vital cellular processes such as apoptosis
  • Manages the deficit in oxide synthase (NO) synthesis, and dysregulation of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) 

Best Exercises for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

Make sure you consult with a physical therapist or doctor before starting any exercise program to manage diabetic neuropathy. Exercise programs must be based on your current health condition and should not push you beyond your body’s limits.

1) Stretch Your Calves

Stretching exercises are a great way to reduce neuropathic pain because it eases the tension in your muscles and nerves. There are several stretching exercises that you can perform at home itself to manage diabetic neuropathy. A seated stretching exercise for your calves is highly recommended by doctors if the neuropathy has affected your balance. 

You will require a small bed sheet or a long bath towel to perform this exercise

Step 1: Sit upright in a chair with both your feet flat on the floor. 

Step 2: Take the bed sheet or long towel and fold it vertically so you have a long folded cloth.

Step 3: Now place the towel on the floor and step on the center with the ball of your left foot. 

Step 4: Grab the ends of the towel with both your hands and pull your leg up while trying to keep the knee as straight as you can.

Step 5: Pull as high as you are comfortable and repeat the same steps with your right foot.

Repeat the exercises 10 times for each leg. This exercise will reduce some of the pressure on your hamstrings and back, hence making it easier for you to lift your legs without any support.

2) Stretch Your Hamstrings

Leg exercises are mostly recommended to diabetic neuropathy patients because the condition can damage the nerve function and sensation in their feet. It not only affects your balance and increases the chances of falling but also makes your feet numb. Diabetic patients may not know if their feet have any cuts or bruises which can lead to infection and amputation. 

Step 1: Sit upright on a chair without leaning your back against the backrest. Keep your spine straight and both your feet flat on the floor.

Step 2: Lift your left leg, extend it out in front and point the toe straight. Keeping your right foot flat on the floor. 

Step 3: Now slowly bend your back and lean over such that your chest touches the top of your left thigh. 

Step 4: Try to keep your back as straight as you can while bending.

Step 5: Hold this position for at least 20 seconds, and repeat the same steps with your right leg. Do 3 sets of this exercise for each leg. 

3) Side Leg Raise Balancing Exercises

Peripheral neural damage is a common cause of diabetic neuropathy. This condition usually results in balance impairments among diabetic patients. Therefore, balancing exercises are recommended by physical therapy experts to help maintain your balance. It can build your strength and reduce the feelings of tightness in your nerves and most importantly, prevents falls.

If you are not confident enough, you can do the balancing exercises with someone watching or you can even hold onto something in order to prevent falling.

Step 1: You can start the exercise by holding to a firm object such as a table or a wall. 

Step 2: Stand straight with both your feet slightly apart.

Step 3: Slowly lift your right leg and hold it for 5–10 seconds.

Step 4: Lower your right leg at the same pace and go back to the initial standing position.

Step 5: Repeat the same steps for your right leg as well.

Step 6: As you begin to gradually improve your balance, you can try to perform the exercise without holding onto any object.

4) Calf Raise

The calf raise is also another type of balance training exercise recommended for patients with diabetic neuropathy. It can improve blood circulation and loosen stiff muscles or nerves. This is also a standing exercise, therefore, you might need to hold onto something firm while performing this exercise. 

Step 1: You can start the exercise by holding to a firm object such as a table or a wall. 

Step 2: Stand straight with both your feet slightly apart.

Step 3: Lift the heels of both your feet at the same time. You should be standing on the toes of both your feet with your heels off the ground.

Step 4: Hold this position for ten seconds and then slowly lower your heels back to the floor and return to the initial position.

Step 5: Repeat the same steps 10–15 times.

Conclusion

Exercises are a great way to manage diabetic neuropathy and alleviate diabetic neuropathic pain. Physical therapists usually combine multiple exercise routines based on your condition and its severity. Most physical therapists focus on resistance exercise, electrical stimulation, aerobic exercise, massage therapy, nerve stimulation, swimming exercise, and much more. You can also consult with your doctor and perform mind-body exercises or therapy of any choice along with physical therapy. Such therapy can enhance your other workout routines and improve your overall health. For example, you could consider taking a yoga class as a way to relax your mind and recover after an intense strength or cardio workout.

Author Bio:

Cindy Williams is a blogger in Canada. She graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.

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