Yes, exercise can help neuropathy and heal nerve damage.
People suffering from peripheral neuropathy, which causes pain, numbness, tingling, and burning sensation in the arms, legs, hands, and feet, should perform strengthening exercises.
Strengthening exercises can improve muscle strength in people suffering from peripheral neuropathy.
If performed regularly, it can decrease nerve pain as well as control blood sugar levels.
Keep reading to discover types of exercises you can easily do from home as well as studies that demonstrate tangible benefits.
The 4 Types of Exercises They Can Perform
People diagnosed with nerve pain can perform aerobic exercise, flexibility exercise, strength training exercise, and balance exercise. Here is a brief look at each type of exercise they can perform to ease nerve pain:
1. Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate, works muscles, and increases breathing rate. You should aim to perform aerobic exercise for about 30 minutes each day between 3 to 5 days a week. However, in the beginning, you should perform aerobic exercise for 5 to 10 minutes each week and gradually, increase the number of minutes you spend performing it.
You can even split your physical activity by walking for 10 minutes after every meal each day. Some forms of aerobic exercise include:
- Take brisk walk either outside or on the treadmill
- Join a low impact aerobic exercise class
- Swim or join a water aerobic exercise class
- Do indoor cycling on a stationary bicycle
2. Flexibility Exercise
Flexibility exercise or stretching maintains joint flexibility and reduces the risk of injury when performing other types of activities. You can perform light stretching exercises such as seated hamstring stretch, calf stretch, and plantar fascia stretch for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Light stretching will warm up your body and prepare you to perform aerobic exercises and activities such as swimming or walking. Yoga is also another excellent, low-impact exercise for neuropathy that helps with flexibility and circulation.
3. Strength Training
Strength training exercises involves making the muscles of the body stronger and reduce the risk of injury when performing a physical activity. Constant strength training work outs can help restore lost strength in the muscles. Some strength training exercises include kitchen counter calf rises, chair squat, and seated dorisflexion.
4. Balance Exercise
Balance exercise keeps your balance system healthy. Anyone suffering from medical issues due to joint pain, dizziness, or weakness should get into the routine of performing balance exercises. Balance exercises can help people return to normal and conquer feelings of unsteadiness or stiffness.
Balance exercise is an effective form of exercise for seniors citizens especially, as older muscles are smaller and slower. Old muscles do not respond to movements as well as they once did, thus increasing your chance of a fall.
What Does Research State about Exercise Helping Neuropathy and Healing Nerve Damage
According to the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS), exercise does alleviate nerve pain. Exercise reduces the levels of cytokines, which is an inflammation promoting substance. The researchers studied rats with nerve pain to arrive at this conclusion.
For the study, the researchers examined rats with a sciatic nerve injury. They made the rats perform exercise such as swimming or running on the treadmill over several weeks. The researchers proceeded to observe the effects of exercise on alleviating and healing nerve pain in rats by looking closely at the way they behaved to pain.
The researchers stated that they noticed a significant difference in the level of nerve pain in rats that performed swimming or ran on a treadmill. They also said that they noticed that exercise decreased abnormal responses to pressure and temperature.
They said that exercise also decreased the levels of cytokines in sciatic nerve tissue. When compared their results with previous studies performed on exercise’s affect on neuropathic pain, the researchers said that they results were consistent with them.
The previous studies suggested that the pro-inflammatory substance cytokines and inflammation plated a vital role in the development of nerve pain due to a nerve injury. Furthermore, exercise increased the amount of heat shock protein-27, which also works to reduce the levels of cytokines.
How Can People with Nerve Pain Perform Exercise Safely?
If you have nerve pain, you need to learn how to perform each exercise safely. You need to consult with your medical practitioner before you perform any exercise, as they can guide you into telling you on what exercises for a person with nerve pain is safe to perform.
Your doctor may direct you to a physical therapist who works in tailoring an exercise program for people with nerve pain. If you do not seek the guidance of a physical therapist, you may perform an exercise and injure yourself, thus aggravating your condition even more.
Next, you need to select appropriate exercises that you can perform. You need to perform an exercise that does not worsen your nerve pain, but works to reduce it and heal it.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a person with nerve pain, which is often a result of diabetes, should perform high impact and strenuous workouts or ones that require them to handle weights with extreme caution.
The ADA recommends that people should start walking short distances, perform swimming, take up cycling, and do chair exercises instead of running, lifting weights, and jumping. You should not perform any strenuous workouts until your injuries and sores have completely healed.
If you have neuropathy, you have to wear the right footwear. You should wear shoes that are wide and large enough because snug shoes can place pressure on pressure points. As for socks, you need to wear socks made from material that reduce friction, draw moisture away from your skin, and reduce the chance of sores and blisters.
If you are exercising to eliminate nerve pain, you should not do strenuous exercises, but start small by walking. You should also ask your doctor to provide you with any pain meds like Gabapentin or over the counter supplements that can work to reduce the pain related to peripheral neuropathy.