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The Best Exercises for Peripheral Neuropathy

Exercise is crucial when suffering from muscle atrophy with peripheral neuropathy, but it should be done carefully as to not cause even more nerve damage. Your exact exercise plan depends on your specific case, but even if you only are in the early stages, you should consult with your doctor on a regular basis to disclose all of the exercises you are doing as well as any change in ability.

The Best Exercises for Peripheral Neuropathy

Aerobic Exercise

It’s hard to avoid weight gain when your mobility is decreased, but it’s important when treating your peripheral neuropathy. Besides eating the right number of calories, aerobic exercise can be effective in weight control. Walking is an easy solution if you can do so comfortably. If you have balance problems, a non-weight bearing exercise such as riding a stationary bike is a better option. Pad the seat to avoid putting any added pressure on your sciatic nerves, which could lead to further damage.

Resistance Training

Resistance training can help you alleviate some of the muscle loss caused by peripheral neuropathy, as well as help you gain more control over your muscles. Latex bands, resistance tubing and light dumbbells are easy options that can give you just enough resistance to challenge impaired muscles without causing further nerve damage. Stick to what you can do without pain. You should start with a weight that feels moderately challenging to you, then move on to a slightly heavier weight once the first one becomes easy.

Active/Passive Exercises

Active exercise can mean just moving a limb under your own power. If your peripheral neuropathy has you unable to hold a weight, simply lifting your arm and putting it back down can help increase your strength. Passive exercises are those done with help. For example, if your left leg is paralyzed, you can’t move it to exercise it, so a nurse or physical therapist manually moves the leg throughout its full range of motion. You won’t build any strength this way, but it keeps you from experiencing soreness and stiffness, helps keep the joints lubricated, and stimulates the muscles more than if you didn’t exercise at all.

Additional Help

Talk to your doctor about your exercise plans before you begin. Your doctor may also send you to a physical therapist or occupational therapist who can create a program specifically for you, taking into account your strengths and weaknesses, and guide you through each exercise. In most cases, you can do them at home on your own time.

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