Peripheral neuropathy patients can benefit from three types of exercise: aerobics, balance, and stretching.
Start your exercise session with a dynamic stretching exercise like arm circles. You’ll be more flexible and your blood flow will be increased. It will also boost your energy and activate your nerves.
Performing aerobic exercises causes you to breathe deeply and move large muscles. By doing so, you increase blood flow and release endorphins that act as painkillers for the body.
As a best practice, we recommend doing aerobic activities at least three days a week, for at least 30 minutes every day. Start by exercising for 10 minutes daily if you are just getting started.
Some examples of aerobic exercises are:
- A brisk walk
- Going on a bike ride
You may experience stiffness and weakness due to peripheral neuropathy. Through balance training you can strengthen your muscles and reduce tightness. You can also prevent falls by improving your balance.
You should start balance training with leg lifts and calf raises.
Side leg raise
- Steady yourself by holding onto a chair or counter.
- Maintain a straight posture with your feet slightly apart.
- Lift one leg sideways and hold it for 5–10 seconds.
- Slowly lower the leg.
- Do the same with the other leg.
- As your balance improves, try this exercise without holding on to the counter.
- Using a chair or counter, steady your balance.
- Lift both heels off the ground so you are on your toes.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the ground.
- Repeat 10–15 times.
Stretching makes your body more flexible and warms it up for other physical activity. Regular stretching can also reduce the likelihood of injury while exercising.
- Step forward with one foot with your toe pointing forward.
- Slightly bend your front leg and lean forward while keeping the heel on your back leg planted on the floor.
- Stay in this position for 15 seconds.
- Repeat three times.
- Switch legs.
Seated hamstring stretch
- Sit on the edge of your chair.
- Bring one leg forward, toe pointing upward.
- Bend your opposite knee with your foot flat on the floor.
- Stretch your muscles by positioning your chest over your straight leg and straightening your back until you feel a stretch.
- Hold this position for at least 15 seconds.
- Do this three times per leg.