27th February 2023
The 5 Best Exercises for Neuropathy in FeetDr. Devan Patel, PharmD
Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder that often results in numbness and tingling in extremities such as the legs, arms, and feet. It can be caused by genetics, trauma, lifestyle habits (such as smoking and diabetes management), or viral infection.
Common treatments for peripheral neuropathy aim at reducing pain and addressing the root cause. However, exercise has been found to be effective in preserving nerve function and stimulating nerve regeneration.
For individuals with peripheral neuropathy, aerobic, balance, and stretching exercise are essential.
Below are five of the best foot and leg exercises for neuropathy.
Walking is the most basic and effective exercise for individuals with neuropathy in the feet. Walking helps stretch muscles, stimulate nerves, and increase circulation to reduce pain and swelling in the feet.
Like all aerobic exercise, walking engages large muscles that increase your blood flow and produces endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that act as natural painkillers. Regular exercise can increase your endorphin production, thus helping to alleviate some painful neuropathy symptoms in your feet and elsewhere.
For optimal results, walk for at least 30 minutes a day, 3 days out of the week or more. If you cannot walk, you can substitute with another kind of aerobic exercise including:
- Playing sports
2. Toe Curls/Early Morning Pick-Ups
If you experience symptoms of neuropathy in your toes, strengthening exercises may be beneficial. You can strengthen your toe muscles by doing toe curls.
Start by resting your feet on an ottoman, or stool, or by keeping them straight out in front of you while you lie in bed. Keep your feet relaxed while you simultaneously curl all ten toes inward. Straighten and flex your toes before curling them in again. Repeat this exercise at least ten times.
You can also try early morning pick-ups – picking up single toes individually with your fingers to give each toe a good stretch. Practice this stretch in the morning before you get your day started so you can start off on the right foot (no pun intended!).
Doing this exercise helps strengthen toe and foot muscles while stimulating blood flow and improving the sensation of your foot that's affected by neuropathy.
3. Calf Stretch
Stretching your calf muscles promotes better circulation to relieve pressure on nerves that supply your feet, reducing pain due to nerve damage from neuropathy.
Stretch your calves at home using a household item such as a towel or belt. Lie on your back holding each end of your towel or belt with one hand. Bend your knee to loop the towel or belt around the ball of your foot.
Next, holding the towel or belt firmly in each hand, straighten your knee while you flex your foot against the resistance of the towel or belt. You should feel a nice stretch here in your calf muscles, foot muscles, and even your hamstring.
Hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds, repeat a few times, then do the exercise on the other leg.
4. Balance Exercises
Neuropathy can leave muscle joints feeling weak or stiff. Weak or stiff joints can interfere with your balance and make you more prone to falls and accidents. Strengthening these muscle joints can improve your balance and help reduce symptoms of neuropathy.
Exercises like calf raises target weak ankle-stabilizing muscles that can be impacted by neuropathy. To do the calf raise exercise, stand upright with both feet together lightly holding onto the back of a chair or countertop.
Slowly lift your heels off the ground until you are balancing on your toes– hold for a few seconds before lowering your heels gently back onto the floor. Repeat the exercise at least 10 times multiple times throughout the day.
5. Ball Rolling
Ball rolling is a great exercise for relieving neuropathy pain or stiffness in the feet. Start by finding a small ball (such as a tennis ball). Place one foot on top of the small ball and press down lightly so the ball begins rolling across the arch on the bottom of your foot.
Move the ball around 10 times counterclockwise (one complete circle) then switch direction for another 10 circles. Repeat this exercise each day or when you are experiencing pain and stiffness in your feet.
Exercises for Neuropathy: The Takeaway
Neuropathy is a difficult condition to treat but natural therapies like exercise prove to be helpful for managing some symptoms. Incorporating neuropathy exercises into your daily regimen may be beneficial for improving neuropathy in your feet.
When combined with a natural multi-nutrient supplement for nerve health, such as NeuraZenx, exercise may be a good addition to prescription meds and physical therapy.*
The key to exercise, however, is consistency. If you want to see improvements in your neuropathy symptoms, practice these exercises every day. Each day you will get stronger, and your symptoms have a better chance of improving.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease