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By Dr. Michael Stein
October 09, 2014
Category: Neuropathy

Avoid high intensity workouts with neuropathyHere in the Bay Area, we’re blessed with a Mediterranean-style climate that happily accommodates year-round outdoor exercise—it’s almost never too hot or too cold to go out and get your body working. If you have some loss of sensitivity in your feet due to complications from diabetes, though, you have to be careful with the kinds of exercises you choose. That’s not to say activity with neuropathy needs to be difficult—it doesn’t! However, workouts that involve repetitive impacts can cause blistering, ulcers, and even bone fractures that worsen as you continue to engage in the activity. You may go out for a run, come back home, take off your shoes, and notice significant damage.

Avoid strenuous, high-impact exercises like running, jump rope, basketball, tennis, and other activities and sports that involve a lot of jumping, landing, and repetitive hard foot strikes. They wreak havoc on sensitive feet. Instead, choose activities and workouts that get your heart pumping without pounding on aching feet, ankles, and knees. At the gym or at home, try incorporating a stationary bike, elliptical, or step aerobics into your routine.

When you’re ready to take it outside, try a nice bike ride—there are plenty of beautiful trails and bike paths nearby for you to enjoy. If you have access to a pool (or public beach), swimming is a great way to flex those joints and get a good cardio workout, while putting minimum stress on sensitive bones and tissues. You can do some walking, too—just start out with short distances and keep checking your feet to ensure your gait or footwear isn’t causing problems.

There are also a few exercises specifically designed for diabetic neuropathy you can try. Range-of-motion activities, such as sitting in a chair, lifting your foot, and rotating your ankle joint clockwise, then counterclockwise, can stimulate nerve function and increase circulation. Toe tapping exercises and sitting leg pointers—in which you sit in a chair, point your leg out straight with knee locked, and rotate your ankle five times in each direction—can also help.

For more tips on activity with neuropathy, check out our free patient education library. If you have any concerns or need to schedule an appointment, you can reach Foot Doctor of the East Bay through this website or by calling (510) 483-3390. We have offices in Los Gatos, San Leandro, and Pleasanton, CA.

Photo credit: David Mark

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