Foot and Ankle Exercises for Diabetics!
If you’re diabetic — foot and ankle pain can be a common occurrence in everyday life. Nerve damage, numbness and tingling, burning sensations, and pinching pains are familiar symptoms for those who live with neuropathy. But there’s hope — you can help to relieve and eliminate foot and ankle pain with these scientifically proven exercises! All you’ll need is a sturdy chair and your body to get started. As always, before starting this or any other exercise routine — check with your doctor to make sure that these exercises are appropriate for you.
When you’re ready to get started, take your shoes off. Bring your hips all the way forward and sit on the edge of the chair with your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Roll your shoulders down and back and sit up straight and tall.
Keeping your heels down, alternate raising your toes off the ground. This exercise helps increase circulation in your legs, and you should start to feel your blood pumping. Continue flexing your feet, alternating between right and left for 20-30 seconds — squeezing as you lift your toes as high as you can.
With your left knee bent and left foot flat, straighten your right leg and rest your right heel on the floor. Make big circles with your toes, pointing and flexing your right foot. This move helps stretch and strengthen your ankles. Repeat for 20-30 seconds — and be sure to change direction from clockwise to counterclockwise halfway through. Then repeat the exercise on the other side.
Starting with your feet flat on the floor, begin rocking from your heels to your toes. Lift your toes as high as you can, then slowly lower back down and lift your heels as high as you can. Repeat this exercise for 20-30 seconds to strengthen your calves and increase flexibility in your feet.
Keeping your feet flat on the floor, lift up your toes and wiggle them like you’re playing piano with your feet. Begin rolling your toes — lifting them up and lowering one toe at a time. Do your best to spread your toes out or use your fingers to help separate them, if necessary. Not only does this exercise help with nerve pain — it also helps to improve your balance!
Use your feet to grip the floor as if you’re trying to pick something up with your toes — and lift the arches of your feet. Continue for 15-30 seconds. This exercise is especially great for improving circulation in your feet right down to your toes. For a more advanced version — see the next exercise.
When you’re ready to get fancy with your Toe Grabbers — do the wave! Start by gripping the floor with your toes as in the previous exercise. Then lift your toes off the floor. Next fan your toes out and give your foot a good stretch as you flex. Finally, lower back down and relax your feet. Repeat for 15-20 seconds. Do your best — this one is challenging!
Stand behind your seat with your hands resting on the back of the chair for balance. Roll your shoulders back and lengthen your spine. Step one foot slightly forward, and the other foot back with your back heel planted firmly on the floor. Stand up tall and feel the stretch as you inhale. Deepen the stretch by bending your back knee — keeping your heel flat on the floor. Hold for a few breaths and switch sides.
Improve your balance with this quadricep stretch. Stand up tall behind your chair, holding the back. Lift one foot off the floor and curl your heel in toward your back. If you can reach your back foot, you can hold it with your hand and draw your heel in toward your body to deepen the stretch. If you can’t reach your foot, simply hold your foot up as high as you can. Challenge yourself to balance with as little help from the chair as possible.
Did you know exercise can help with the symptoms of diabetes? It really does work like medicine on your body when you’re consistent. Not only will your feet and ankles get stronger — you’ll reduce your diabetic nerve pain too! All it takes to help relieve your pain is to get moving a few minutes a day. Try these simple exercises and feel better fast!