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5 Daily Exercises for Peripheral Neuropathy Relief

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Davor Štefanović - Editor for Upstep
Edited by Davor Štefanović

Updated May 29, 2023.

A fit woman performing side leg raises for peripheral neuropathy relief

Are you among the 20 million Americans dealing with peripheral neuropathy? If so, you're all too familiar with the muscle weakness, coordination issues, and abnormal sensations it can cause in the hands and feet. While there's no definitive cure, you can still take steps to manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.

The impact of this condition is considerable: individuals often experience abnormal sensations in their hands and feet, muscle weakness, and difficulty coordinating movements. While there is currently no definitive cure for peripheral neuropathy, there are numerous ways to manage its symptoms and improve quality of life. These include medication, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and—perhaps surprisingly—daily exercises.

Let's explore five daily exercises for foot neuropathy that can provide relief from the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

5 Exercises for Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Calf Raises
  • Chair Squats
  • Seated Hamstring Stretch
  • Side Leg Raise
  • Plantar Fascia Stretch

1. Calf Raises

Calf raises may seem simple, but they can be very effective at relieving the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. By lifting the heel off the ground, you engage and strengthen the calf muscles. This action improves blood flow to the feet, a critical aspect for individuals with peripheral neuropathy who often experience reduced circulation. Additionally, calf raises can enhance balance and stability, aiding those struggling with coordination issues due to nerve damage.

Performing calf raises is straightforward and can be done almost anywhere. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, slowly lift your heels off the ground while keeping your toes planted, and then lower yourself back down. Aim for ten to fifteen repetitions, increasing the number as you become more comfortable.

Did You Know?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the range of conditions that occur when the peripheral nervous system—the network of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord—is damaged.

» Learn more about Baxter's nerve entrapment

2. Chair Squats

Chair squats are a low-impact exercise that targets the leg muscles, promoting better balance and increased circulation. With regular practice, these exercises can mitigate the impact of muscle weakness often seen in peripheral neuropathy.

  • Stand in front of a chair, facing away from it while your feet are shoulder-width apart and your toes are pointing straight ahead.
  • Bend your knees by engaging your core. Ensure your spine remains neutrally aligned.
  • Tap the chair with your butt, but do not sit down. Lift your arms out in front if you need extra balance.
  • Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to drive your hips forward and up, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the squat about five times, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as you become more comfortable.

3. Seated Hamstring Stretch

The seated hamstring stretch is an excellent exercise for reducing tension and increasing flexibility in your legs—crucial for preventing potential injuries from lack of coordination or muscle weakness caused by peripheral neuropathy.

  • Sit on the edge of a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the ground.
  • Extend one leg out in front of you with your heel on the ground and your toes pointing upward.
  • Bend your other leg so the sole of your foot rests against your mid-thigh.
  • Slowly lean forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, and reach your hands towards your toes.
  • Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, feeling the stretch in the back of your thigh. Repeat it 2- 3 times per day.

Did You Know?

Peripheral neuropathy can come about due to numerous factors, including diabetes, autoimmune diseases, infections, exposure to toxins, and certain medications

4. Side Leg Raise

Side leg raises target the muscles of the hips and outer thighs, which play a significant role in maintaining balance and stability. For those experiencing coordination issues due to peripheral neuropathy, this exercise can be invaluable.

To perform side leg raises, lie on your side on an exercise mat and lift your top leg to a 45-degree angle, hold for a few seconds, then lower your leg. Repeat this on the other side, alternating for several repetitions.

5. Plantar Fascia Stretch

A crucial aspect of managing peripheral neuropathy symptoms is improving blood flow. The plantar fascia stretch does just that, targeting the foot's arch and thereby improving circulation.

  • Sit on the floor or on a mat and extend your leg so that only your heel is on the floor.
  • Bend down, hold your big toe, and attempt to bend it backward.
  • Flex your ankle up so that it pulls away from the floor, and hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise on the foot two to four times, gradually increasing the duration and intensity as you become more comfortable.

Listen to Your Body

Remember, everyone’s body is different. When exercising, it’s essential to listen to your body and modify movements as necessary. If you feel any pain or discomfort during an exercise, stop and consult with your healthcare provider or a fitness professional. They can help modify the exercise to suit your needs and ensure you're performing it correctly to avoid injury.

» Here's how you can strengthen your ankles to prevent further injury

Beyond Exercise

Exercises serve as a powerful tool for managing peripheral neuropathy. These five activities—calf raises, chair squats, seated hamstring stretches, side leg raises, and plantar fascia stretches—can lead to significant improvements in your flexibility, strength, balance, and circulation, reducing the risk of injury.

Supplementing your exercise regimen with custom orthotics can provide additional support. Consider products like Upstep Normal Everyday Activity Custom Orthotics, which are specifically designed for individuals with peripheral neuropathy. They offer shock absorption, enhanced stability, and improved comfort.

» Check out these treatments for reversible neuropathy

A Proactive Approach

Living with peripheral neuropathy is challenging, but remember, you have tools at your disposal. Through a blend of daily exercises and supportive aids like custom orthotics, you can manage your peripheral neuropathy symptoms effectively and lead a fulfilling life with minimal discomfort. The key lies in taking a proactive approach to manage your condition.

Normal Everyday Activity Orthotics

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