Peripheral neuropathy can cause a string of complications, resulting in pain, weakness and difficulty balancing when it reaches the feet and toes.
Long-term neuropathy affecting the feet can also cause changes to a patient’s gait making it harder to walk and perform exercises.
This typically results in poor fitness levels which worsens neuropathic pain and symptoms.
Numbness in the feet, acute and chronic neuropathic pain, and impaired balance and mobility are addressed by these five exercises.
Each improves nerve conductivity and nervous function while strengthening the muscles and joints hampered by peripheral neuropathy.
Practice these five foot exercises for peripheral neuropathy relief daily and you can look forward to less pain, better balance, and improved blood flow.
1. Toe Curls
Toe curls are an excellent exercise to stimulate blood flow to the legs, ankles and feet. They prevent cramping in the feet and restore sensitivity when numbness is present. The grip strength of your toes will increase gradually which signals that your nerve conduction is getting better and your muscles are working and strong.
Here’s how to do toe curls to relieve neuropathic pain:
- Place a small face cloth, towel, or other piece of material right before you.
- Sit on a chair maintaining a good posture.
- Curl your toes and use them to grab and hold the towel for three seconds – don't move your heel.
- Release the towel, lift up and spread your toes holding them apart for three seconds.
- Repeat this exercise with the other foot, alternating between feet for a total of four to five repetitions.
Some people prefer to repeat the exercise five times in a row with each foot instead of alternating between them. Feel free to choose any method you prefer.
Once you see improvements in your grip strength you can start practicing this exercise with a marble instead. A great alternative at this stage is to place to bowls before you, one empty, and the other filled with 20 marbles. Transfer all 20 using your toes and then repeat with the other foot.
2. Somatosensory Exercises
A fantastic treatment for neuropathy that feels as great as it works is a light somatosensory workout. Our somatosensory system connects the perception of our body, our balance, and our innate proprioception – or knowing where the body is in indefinite space without needing to look at it.
Conditions like peripheral neuropathy, arthritis and diabetes degrade our sensory receptors which makes us slower to react to changes in the environment.
There are a few kinds of somatosensory exercises which are extremely beneficial for neuropathy. Here's a look at two of them:
Rolling Foot Massage
Do this exercise once a day or whenever tension is felt in the feet, legs and ankles.
1. Roll a tennis ball or other small ball like a golf ball underneath your bare foot.
2. Maintain a good posture and continue to roll the ball for thirty seconds before alternating direction, circling the other way.
3. Change feet and perform the same exercise.
Toe Spreading Workout
Perform this exercise independently or follow up a rolling foot massage with toe spreading exercise.
- With your bare feet, roll a small ball such as a golf ball from the big toe to the small toe.
- Make sure that your heel stays in contact with the ground at all times.
- Flexibility rises with regular practice as this exercise bolsters somatosensory awareness, balance and blood flow, aim for three full repetitions of each foot.
3.Hand and Foot Tapping Exercise
This exercise uses your hands and feet but it's one of the best for stimulating the nervous system.
You can start with toe tapping by itself to get a feel for the exercise but engaging the feet and hands is excellent for all-round nerve health.
- Start by sitting down and maintaining a good posture.
- Place your heels flat and lift up your toes. Lower them back down, tapping as you would when you listen to music.
- Turn your feet away from each other so that they resemble a "V" or use any spacing that is comfortable.
Get used to the action of tapping. It's great for relief in busy places as most people won't notice you tapping your toes slightly.
To begin tapping with your hands and feet, start by staying seated and positioning your hands upon your things allowing your palm to make contact with your leg. Keep your wrist against your leg and tap according to the appropriate repetition. The basic sequence is:
- Eight taps on the right followed by eight taps on the left
- Four taps of both hands/feet repeated once
- Two taps of both hands/feet repeated three times
Start by following the sequence using your feet only, then do it using your hands only. Finally, finish up by completing the sequence using your hands and feet simultaneously. This exercise is best when done at least twice a day.
4. Pressure Isolation
Pressure isolation is a highly stimulating exercise which will improve your postural balance while improve the body's musculoskeletal awareness in regards to position and movement.It's a great exercise to make walking easier, and a reliable way to bolster blood flow as well.
- Stand upright with your feet together keeping your neck straight and your eyes fixed before you.
- Alter your center of pressure to each foot as you begin to work your toes.
- Start by pressing downward with the big toe.
- Follow up by pressing down the next three toes in sequence followed by your last, small toe.
- Once you're applied pressure with all of your toes continue to move this pressure towards the arch pressing with the outer ball of your foot.
- Continue to the inside ball of your foot, and then the heel.
- Carry on moving the pressure along the outer edge of your foot and then finally apply pressure to the inner surface.
- Repeat this exercise for both feet and then work the sequence to completion with both feet at the same time.
Foot exercises for peripheral neuropathy like this are focused on foot and ankle recovery. Studies analyzing balance and gait training show that focus here improves balance and the confidence of the neuropathy sufferer. From functional reach to single-leg stance time improvements, and an increase in muscle strength, regular foot exercise for just three weeks brings significant results.
5. Heel/Toe Raises
After a few weeks seated heel/toe raises will become easy. Start doing them standing and increase the number of repetitions to a maximum of 30 per foot over the course of a few months.
It is better to repeat this exercise two or three times a day with less repetitions than to strain the muscles in your foot and ankles by forcing too many.
- Sit on a chair maintaining an upright posture.
- Lift your heel off the floor but keep your toes in contact with the ground.
- Arc and extend the bridge of your foot fully.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times for each foot.
- Switch to toe raises by keeping your heel in contact with the ground while lifting your toes.
- Extend your foot completely.
Heel and toe raises strengthen your feet and legs and restore mobility to your ankles. They get rid of numbness in the toes in no time and has long-term benefits to flexibility as well. This is also a great exercise to restore the full extension of your Achilles tendon. Foot strength exercises are highly recommended for peripheral neuropathy relief.
Exercise All of Your Muscles
Leading chiropractors advise that in order to give yourself a full range of motion of your feet, and improve their health, one needs not only stretch and strengthen the foot but the ankle, Achilles, glutes, calf, hamstrings, and shins as well. All of these muscles and tendons are connected, and an impairment will degrade the range of motion of the others.
The discomfort often causes people to rest their bodyweight in the wrong place resulting in hyperextended knees and all the weight being placed on the lower back. If neuropathy sufferers do not address exercise correctly, other problems separate nerve issues can occur. Foot health is very important and one must always remember to strengthen all connected muscles.
Carry Out Complete Therapy
No matter what type of exercise you choose to do for peripheral neuropathy relief, warmth helps. There are lots of ways to warm feet, ankles, legs and muscles. A sure-fire way to warm up is to soak your legs in a bath of hot water for a few minutes prior to exercise.
Alternatively, try a heat pad or hot water bottle. Once warmed up, make sure that each exercise is performed safely. You must never stretch beyond a comfortable point. If you’re feeling pain, then you’re taking things too far.
Regular exercise will push your boundaries, increasing flexibility and strength while stimulating the nervous system. It can take many months before significant results are felt but you need to stick to it. The immediate relief is just a small part of the treatment. Persist for ten months or more to truly begin reaping the benefits of exercises designed to treat peripheral neuropathy.
Exercise alone will not heal your nerves. Without the proper diet and vitamins, your nerves won't get the nutrition they need to be in optimal health. We recommend eating a healthy, organic diet specifically for neuropathy.
In addition, it helps to take nerve health supplements with the proper dosages of vitamins, herbs, and nutrients to make up for what you can't get from diet alone. This combination of diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation help your nerves heal and symptoms disappear with few side effects, so it's worth giving a try.