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5 Low Impact Exercises for Neuropathy

Stretching exercises at gymExercise is a bit of a two-edged sword for those of us suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy. On the one hand, it is not only important for our general health – but for some it can even help reduce nerve pain. On the other hand, for many people with neuropathy, the pain is so intense that conventional exercise is simply not an option. So what can those of us who find ourselves in this group do if we still wish to incorporate exercise into our plan of attack?

Although conventional forms of exercise may be out of the question, there are various low impact exercises that have helped many Neuropathy patients with extreme pain and sensitivity to control or reduce their symptoms. Though not all exercises will work for everyone, here are five low impact exercises that have helped many of our patients cope with intense pain and reduce their symptoms:

Swimming / Water Aerobics

Swimming or water aerobics are a great option for Neuropathy sufferers as the water helps minimize the impact on the body – especially the feet. In fact, scientists say working out in water can make you up to 90% lighter than your actual weight! Water-based exercises are good for cardio and strength. Those with nerve pain are at an increased risk of muscle degeneration as regular exercise often takes a back seat or is eliminated together from daily routines. Swimming is one of the best low impact exercises for maintaining muscle mass.

Equine Therapy

One form of exercise we occasionally hear of from our followers is equine therapy. For those suffering nerve pain in the feet, horse riding can be a physically exerting form of exercise – minus the impact on the feet. In addition to helping you maintain and even build muscles in your core – it also offers a variety of other therapeutic benefits such as cognitive improvement, confidence-building, emotional empowerment and increased sense of control over one’s life.

Walking

According to the Mayo Clinic, “walking three times a week, may reduce neuropathy pain, improve your muscle strength and help control blood sugar levels.” Over the years we’ve talked to hundreds of patients who have found consistent walking helps control their pain. For those who find even walking too difficult, using a recumbent bike is a great alternative that can give you equal results.

Yoga

Yoga offers a wide variety of both physical and mental benefits. Physically, the regular practice of yoga can help control blood sugar – which is critical for those with diabetic neuropathy. Additionally, it can help reduce neuropathic pain. Mentally, the practice of yoga offers a long list of benefits. It soothes the mind, eases anxiety, improves memory and boosts concentration.   For many, yoga enhances their mind and body’s ability to tolerate the pain.

Many of those practicing yoga will tell you that the healing power of yoga comes not only from the technique itself, but also from the friendships and associations built among those with whom they practice. For those looking to try this ancient practice, we recommend starting with a beginner’s class where you can learn with the help of an expert alongside those who are also learning.

Stretching

According to the American Academy of Neurology, doing small amounts of simple stretching exercises throughout the day – five to ten minutes at a time for a total of 30 minutes – is an effective way for Neuropathy patients to improve circulation and fight muscle fatigue. This is especially true for those whose job or circumstances require them to sit for 8 or more hours a day. Proper circulation is not only critical to healthy hands and feet but it can also help provide some level of relief from pain.

What forms of exercise have you found helpful in maintaining your health while also minimizing the impact on your nerve pain? Share your tips below or leave a comment on our Facebook Page.

5 Ways B Vitamins Fight Nerve Pain

Neurons in the brainB vitamins are perhaps the most important class of vitamins in terms of nerve health.  Of particular benefit are vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12 – all of which are essential for proper nerve function.   For those suffering from nerve pain related to neuropathy, getting these vitamins through diet and daily supplements can be an important step in the slowing the progression of nerve damage and reducing many of the painful symptoms.  Here are five ways B vitamins maintain and improve nerve health:

1.  Protect the Myelin Sheath

The myelin sheath is a protective coating around the nerves that helps maintain the integrity of the nerve and the electrical signals transmitted through them.  Vitamin B12 is a key vitamin for supporting the health of this protective coating.  If the myelin sheath is damaged, vitamin B12 helps rebuild and repair the coating.

2.  Supports Nerve Cell Growth & Regeneration

The B vitamins support the growth and regeneration of nerve cells.  According to a study published in the Journal of Neurological Science, methyl-B12 increases protein synthesis and supports the regeneration of damaged nerve cells when taken in high doses.  For anyone suffering the painful symptoms of nerve damage, vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for preventing further damage and promoting the regeneration of damaged nerves.

3.  Fuels the Nervous System

One of the primary functions of the B vitamins is to convert carbohydrates into fuel to be used by the various systems within the body, including the central nervous system.  Benfotiamine, a more bio-available form of vitamin B1, is particularly effective at carrying much needed energy and nutrients throughout the body.  It has been shown to be as much as 25 times more effective at absorbing into cellular tissue than the more common form of B1 – known as thiamine.

4.  Supports Production of Neurotransmitters

Vitamin B6* plays an important role in the production of 5 different neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine.  These neurotransmitters transmit various electrical signals and are responsible for important chemical reactions throughout the body.  The neurotransmitter serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood and sleep.

5.  Maintain Normal Blood Sugar

The B vitamins help the body maintain normal blood sugar levels by converting carbohydrates to glucose when glucose levels begin to drop.  The number one cause of Peripheral Neuropathy is diabetes.  A lack of control on glucose levels often results in the nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy.  For those suffering from diabetic induced neuropathy, blood glucose control is recommended as the most effective treatment for slowing and possibly even reversing the progression of neuropathy.

Conclusion

Getting the right vitamins and nutrients for nerve health should be a key component of your fight against nerve pain.  We recommend incorporating as many foods as possible with these vitamins into your diet, but also supplementing your dietary intake with vitamin B supplements.  What role have B vitamins played in your fight against nerve pain?  Share your success stories below or post a comment on our Facebook Page.

 

* Taking large doses (in excess of 100mg/day for adults) of vitamin B6 for an extended period of time (usually a year or more) can actually have an adverse effect on your nerves.  Make sure you’re getting at least the recommended dietary intake of 1.3 mg per day.  We recommend around 4-8mg per day for adults.

Peripheral Neuropathy is most often associated with diabetes, but that is only one of a number of potential causes of the disease. Nerve damage as a result of chemotherapy is another common culprit.  Of the 14 million cancer survivors in the U.S., approximately one-third (nearly 5 million) will develop cancer-related neuropathies. The experts at The Neuropathy Association put together this compelling infographic to tell the story of chemotherapy induced Neuropathy: 

Cancer Related Neuropathies InfoGraphic – An infographic by the team at The Neuropathy created this great InfoGraphic, Please share it!

Reducing Nerve Pain With Water

Portrait of young woman relaxing in bathtubRegardless of the type of your neuropathy – one of the common symptoms among all types is poor circulation to the nerves.  Good circulation is important for anyone, but especially for those suffering form neuropathy.  Poor circulation can increase the risk of complications and pain in neuropathy sufferers – especially in the hands and feet.

Improving circulation can help stimulate the nerves and ease some of the pain associated with nerve damage.  Blood plays an important role in carrying healing nutrients to all parts of the body and also removing harmful toxins from tissue.  As such, good circulation is crucial to giving your body its best chance at healing and fighting off harmful toxins.

There are a number of techniques for improving circulation, including massage, stretching, etc – but today we will focus on hydrotherapy.  Hydrotherapy techniques involve using water in any form – i.e. liquid, ice, and steam – to treat problem areas and improve circulation.  Here are three common and effective hydrotherapy techniques:

1.  Contrast Hydrotherapy

Alternating between hot and cold water helps expand and constrict the blood vessels – forcing the blood to move through the vessels to other areas in the body.  You can perform this technique by soaking your hands or feet in a tub of water, alternating between warm and cold water.  As a rule, you should always spend more time soaking in the warm water than the cool water.

In addition to improving circulation – the warm water releases pain-relieving endorphins that help block pain.  The warm water also helps the body to relax, thereby reducing the stress and anxiety that can aggravate your symptoms.

As always, use caution when soaking numb hands or feet.  Have a spouse or family member gauge water temperature for you by placing their hands or feet in the water first.

 

2.  Constitutional Hydrotherapy

This technique involves placing hot and cold towels on the chest and back.  It has been used to effectively treat various ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and more.  As this technique is more involved, it will require a partner to help you perform the various tasks.

For a full guide of how to properly perform constitutional hydrotherapy, click here.

 

3.  Hot Foot Bath

This technique can be surprisingly effective even if the symptoms of your nerve damage aren’t manifest in the feet.  That’s because soaking your feet in hot water can help draw the blood away from inflamed areas of the body – thereby reducing some of the pain and inflammation associated with nerve damage.  If your nerve pain is manifest in the feet – this technique is still effective as the warm water releases pain-blocking endorphins and helps to relax the nerves in the feet.

Make sure water temperature is not too hot for numb feet.  Also make sure to carefully dry the feet after each therapy session.

There are a number of other hydrotherapy techniques designed to improve circulation and relieve some of the pain and inflammation associated with nerve damage – but these are three of our favorite techniques.  As always, ask your doctor what alternative therapies are safe for your situation.

Coping With Neuropathy Through Distraction

Have you ever been so engaged in a task that you seemingly forgot about your pain and discomfort?  Perhaps you were focused on solving a complicated problem or maybe you were simply enjoying a great movie.  Regardless of the activity, it took your mind’s focus away from the pain and re-directed it to something else.

As it turns out, there is actual science behind the ability to reduce pain through distraction and it’s even more promising than you might think!  According to a study published in Current Biology, distraction does more than just take one’s mind off the pain.  Their research suggests that mental distractions actually inhibit the body’s response to incoming pain signals.

Man is reading and having coffeeBy giving test patients memory tasks with varying degrees of difficulty to perform and exposing them to pain from a heat source on the arm, the researchers discovered that those with the more difficult tasks reported lower pain levels.  Upon reviewing fMRI scans of the participants’ brains, they also noticed lower activity levels in the spinal chord among those performing the more difficult tasks.

With this evidence in mind, distraction could become another tool in your arsenal for lessening the pain and discomfort of nerve damage.  Clearly, the pain we experience from nerve damage is significantly worse than the pain experienced by the participants in the aforementioned study, but the principle remains the same.  The more we can occupy our mind with tasks that distract it from the pain signals being sent to it, the more likely our mind can inhibit the response to those signals.

Among the huge number of possible activities that distract, some of the popular ones we hear about from patients are reading, gardening, listening to music, writing,  brain games (like crosswords or Sudoku), exercising and more.  What activities or hobbies help take your mind to a different place?  Post a comment below or share your story on our Facebook Page.

 

Neuropathy Treatment Group - All Rights Reserved 2014

The statements made on our websites have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). Our products are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Neuropathy Treatment Group is not affiliated with any of the studies mentioned on the website. The testimonials on this website are individual cases and do not guarantee that you will get the same results.