“But, Doctor, It Hurts When I Exercise” is a commonly discussed issue with patients. If you struggle with neuropathy, complications from diabetes, post-chemo nerve pain, or any other painful medical condition, it can be really easy to just do nothing.
By now, everyone knows that exercise is good for you.
It helps to not only lose weight but keep your weight under control…
It strengthens your bones…
It improves your cardiovascular health…
It has even been shown to fight depression…
And if you happen to have diabetes, you know how important exercise is in managing your glucose levels.
But what do you do when your neuropathy or some other painful condition just makes it hurt to work out?
If you struggle with neuropathy, complications from diabetes, post-chemo nerve pain, or any other painful medical condition, it can be really easy to just sit around and do nothing.
Because it just hurts too much to be active.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are exercises you can do that won’t tax your painful joints or cause you more pain than you already have.
Here are a few exercises to consider that are easy on the body and only require gentle movements:
Yoga will keep you limber and stretches the muscles in slow, easy, fluid movements. You can do it as slowly as you like. You don’t have to qualify as a Cirque Du Soleil acrobat to get the benefits of a good yoga practice. Just do the postures to the best of your ability. If it has been a while since you’ve exercised, don’t expect to be limber overnight. Give yourself time.
Yoga stretches the muscles and increases muscle strength simply by using the body’s own weight. No extra equipment, no extra weight on painful joints or swollen feet. Just what you already carry. That’s tailor made for people suffering from nerve pain.
Tai Chi is a very slow moving martial art. Each and every movement is done slowly and through a complete cycle, works every muscle group in the body. Even though it is not a strenuous exercise program, the health benefits for your bones and muscles are undeniable.
Once again, Tai Chi uses the body’s own weight to strengthen the muscles. Your sore joints and swollen tissue aren’t subjected to increased weight. And because the movements are slow and fluid, no added pain from sore muscles to complicate the symptoms of neuropathy that you already suffer from.
If your joints are so painful that walking is not a good option for exercise, try swimming. Your movements are easier in water and you will put little weight or pressure on your feet. Make sure that the water is warm, not cold. Prolonged exposure to cold water will have a detrimental effect on your circulation and make a bad situation worse.
Swimming is also a wonderful way to strengthen your cardiovascular system and do so without taxing your limited strength. If you suffer from pain in your legs and feet, the buoyancy of the water takes some of the pressure off your extremities. Just being in the water can provide some relief from the pain in your nerves.
Stretching exercises are a great way to increase muscle strength without causing your tender nerves more pain. You can even stretch while lying in bed.
This is a good stretching program that will give you a good total body stretch without ever getting on your feet. Do each of these small stretches 6 or 8 times:
- Start with your fingers and toes and gently stretch and contract them
- Next, move to your wrists and ankles and make circles with the joints
- Bend your elbows, bring your hands in to your shoulders
- Bend your knees, one at a time, toward your chest
- Bring your arms up to your ears and down, gently stretching your shoulder muscles
- Raise each leg, keep it straight, and raise it as far as you can.
None of these stretches requires a broad range of motion but will increase the circulation in your arms and legs and work your joints.
Remember, you don’t have to over exert yourself to stretch your muscles and improve your circulation. When you deal with debilitating pain, just doing those two things can lead to great improvement in your overall health condition.
Start small, take it easy and do the exercise you choose at your own pace. Be gentle with yourself. The more you do even the smallest exercise, the better you are going to feel. And that’s the best way to ensure a good outcome from any neuropathy treatment.
*As frustrating as it may be at times, we encourage you to learn as much about your underlying condition and treatment options as possible.
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