Neuropathy can feel debilitating, but the best way to fight it is literally to get moving. It's ironic that a condition that limits movement can be beaten by moving around, but that's the way it is. So as hard as it is, getting involved in physical therapy and exercise is the best thing for people who are stuck with this condition. In this article, we'll outline some great exercises and programs that can help you fight back against diabetes and neuropathy. We'll show you how to start small, because most people with this condition have it so bad that even walking short distances is difficult.
The primary goal here is to safely increase your heart rate, work your muscles, and get your respiratory and cardiovascular systems in shape. Our goals here are to get you moving for about 30 to 45 minutes a day and then add to those numbers. Even if you start small, like going for a five or ten minute walk, you will be starting a regimen of overall wellness that can help you break this condition. A good idea is to take a ten minute walk before or after every meal, whatever you feel you're able to do. Do that, and by the end of the day you'll have a pretty respectable 30-minute workout under your belt.
You can just put on some comfortable shoes and go for a walk, or if the weather cooperates and you have the means, a treadmill walk will do the trick. If walking hurts, you may want to see a doctor about orthotics or special shoes that can alleviate this pain. Again, if you start small, you'll make it! Remember, if you feel out of breath or tired, unless you know it's serious, keep going! This is your body getting stronger! Of course, before you do anything, it's a really good idea to see a doctor and let him or her know that you plan to fight these conditions with exercise. If anything, your doctors will probably have tips to help you get started on a fitness program as well.
If you're already walking or jogging and looking for something else to complement your walks, try low-impact aerobics or maybe swimming. Or, if those aren't really your thing, you might think about getting on a stationary bike. Even if you can't go outside, spinning in your basement or gym can be a lot of fun. As you get in better shape, you can even set it up so you can watch your favorite TV shows, read magazines, and even eat and drink while you spin. Talk about fun! As mentioned earlier, we highly recommend low-impact activities for people who are just getting back on the road to physical fitness, because they reduce your chances of physical injury, and the cardiovascular benefits that come from these types of activities are great for people with diabetes and neuropathy. Additionally, you might want to check out the range of neuropathy aids we offer at our online shop.
Another important and relatively easy activity is not running, but stretching! Even if you're not into yoga, it's a good idea to do basic stretches before and after the low-impact exercises you're already doing. This is because the stretches help prevent injury and also “warm up” your muscles for the work they're going to do later. You can do basic calf stretches by placing one leg in front of the other and leaning forward to grab the nearest wall or fence. If you're doing it right, you'll feel the long tendon and muscles on the back of your back leg stretch out. This feels weird, but it's good! This is literally the feeling of your muscles stretching.
You can do a similar exercise with your front foot. Push your foot up against the side of a door frame or fence post so that your foot is almost at a 45-degree angle to the door frame or fence post. Then lean toward the fence and push. You'll feel it in almost the same muscles you've been stretching, but now you're getting your foot in on the action. This is good because if you're going to walk or run later, you want that whole area to be stretched. You can go beyond stretching and into strength exercises if you like. Find a chair, stand on one foot, and hold onto the chair for balance. Then lower yourself down onto that foot and push yourself back up. This is called a “squat,” and it'll help you with both stretching and cardiovascular health.