Approximately 20 million people in the country live with a form of peripheral neuropathy. The condition refers to severe nerve damage responsible for pain in the hands and feet. Other common symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Poor balance
While treatment options exist for pain relief and the underlying cause, studies show that exercise promotes and preserves nerve function.
Exercises to Reduce Neuropathic Pain
Peripheral neuropathy causes the muscles and joints to feel stiff and weak. Balance training is effective in building strength and reducing feelings of tightness. With improved balance, you’re less likely to experience falls. Balance training exercises include calf and leg raises, among others.
- Use a chair or counter to steady your balance.
- Lift both heels off the ground and stand on your toes.
- Slowly lower your weight.
- Repeat 10-15 times.
Side Leg Raise
- Use a counter or chair to steady your balance with one hand
- Stand straight with your feet apart
- Lift one leg to the side slowly and hold the position for 5-10 seconds.
- Lower the leg slowly
- Do the same for the other leg.
Try the exercise without holding onto the counter as your posture improves with time.
Aerobic exercise increases your heart and breathing rate and works out the muscles. Aim for a total of 30 minutes a day per session, three to five days a week. Examples of aerobic exercises include:
- Taking a brisk walk on a treadmill or outside
- Taking low-impact aerobics classes
- Stationary cycling
Flexibility or Stretching Exercises
These exercises keep the joints flexible and reduce the chances of injury as you engage in other activities. Start by gently stretching the body to warm up and get ready for other stretching exercises like the following:
- Plantar fascia stretch: Face the door frame and place one heel as close as possible to the edge. Slowly lean forward, letting your heel slide back as the toes curl upward. Bend the front knee toward the frame until you feel a muscle stretch at the bottom of your foot and the heel cord. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
- Hamstring stretch in a seated position: Sit on the front half of a chair and outstretch one leg with the toes pointing up. Bend the opposite knee, ensuring the foot is on the floor. Start your chest to the center of the straight leg and slowly straighten the back. You should feel the muscle in the back of your leg stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and alternate the legs.
When exercising for neuropathic pain, it’s best to wear supportive shoes to prevent pressure and friction from socks. Use protective pads for the knees and elbows, and don’t forget to reduce the layers of clothing for proper breathing.
If you or your loved one would like more help managing neuropathic pain, experts at BrioMD can help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation regarding your care.