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Exercises for Neuropathy to Increase Mobility and Decrease Pain

The stabbing and burning of peripheral neuropathy in your feet can make exercise sound like the last thing you want to do. Even just standing up may cause you pain. But did you know that exercising can actually help to decrease your symptoms, restoring comfort and mobility?

This post will introduce you to some gentle but effective exercises for foot neuropathy. But first, let’s explain why staying active is so vital for those who live with this type of nerve damage.

Young man stretching outdoor on a patio in forward fold

Why are Neuropathy Exercises Important?

Neuropathy exercises are important because they help maintain muscle strength, improve coordination, and enhance blood circulation, which can reduce neuropathy symptoms.

While exercising, you boost circulation in your feet. Cleveland Clinic says that when blood flow is impeded, it can actually lead to the development of neuropathy. That goes to show just how critical circulation is for nerve health. 

Kevin J. Powers, DPM, explains that increasing your circulation brings nutrients to your nerves, enhancing and maintaining their health. This, in turn, can alleviate neuropathy symptoms.

Although most neuropathies are not inflammatory, it is worth noting that working out may help to reduce inflammation. So, in cases where there is an inflammatory component to the neuropathy, that is an added benefit of exercising.

Exercises for Neuropathy Treatment

Now that you understand the importance of exercising for foot neuropathy, let’s take a look at some of the most beneficial exercises you can try.

While exercising can lead to improvements in neuropathy, in order for it to remain beneficial rather than harmful, you need to approach it safely. Here are a few tips:

How to Approach Exercising Safely

  • Stick with gentle, low-impact exercises.
  • Begin with easier, less intensive exercises, and work your way up to higher levels of activity.
  • Watch out for how numbness in your feet can impact your balance. You may find it best to work out on softer surfaces (i.e. dirt instead of concrete), or to wear some protective equipment.
  • Choose the right footwear. The Original Men’s and Women’s Adaptive Shoes by Cadense feature an adaptive system that decreases friction during the swing phases of your steps, making for safer, easier steps if you have difficulties lifting your feet.

Most Effective Neuropathy Exercises

Stretching Exercises

A gentle way to start exercising with foot neuropathy is to do some careful stretches to increase your flexibility.

Girl stretching her legs

For the first stretch, stand facing a wall, and then step one of your feet back behind you. If you want, you can place a palm on the wall for balance. You will feel this stretch in your calf.

For the next stretch, return to your starting position facing the wall with your feet together. Now, simply lean forward. Doing so will stretch your plantar fascia. If you need more room to lean, you can try using a door frame instead of a wall.

Balance Exercises

Since neuropathy can adversely affect your balance, practicing balancing can be helpful. Stand upright, and then slowly and carefully raise one foot so you are balancing on the other. Do this for as long as you can, and then put your foot back down. Then, switch feet and balance on the other one.

Perform this exercise close to a wall, railing, or something else you can grab if you think you are about to fall.

If it is too hard for you to balance entirely on one foot at the beginning, you can just lift the heel of one foot instead of that entire foot.

Sitting Exercises

There are a couple of simple exercises for neuropathy you can do while sitting down. The first is called ankle pumps. Sit somewhere you can rest your legs out in front of you with your feet over the edge (i.e. your bed). Then, point your toes away from your body. Next, bend your feet back so that your toes are pointing up. Then, return them to the previous position. Go back and forth 10-30 times.

Another sitting exercise for neuropathy is towel scrunches. Put a towel on the floor in front of a chair. Sit down in the chair, resting your feet on top of the towel. Scrunch up your toes around the towel, pulling it in toward the chair. Hold it for a moment, and then release it. Do as many reps as are comfortable for you, stopping once fatigue starts setting in.

Brisk Walking

If you are doing okay with stretching, balancing and sitting exercises, you might be ready to do something a little more active, like taking a walk.

Start with a slow, gentle pace. Take notice of how walking is affecting you, and pay close attention to your balance. If gentle walking is going well, then you can increase the pace and begin walking more briskly.

Along with wearing adaptive shoes like Cadense to help you take safe, comfortable, natural steps, you should stick with flat surfaces such as sidewalks and avoid uneven or rocky paths.

You will have to ease into your new walking routine. At first, you may just want to take a few short walks, say 15 minutes a day several days a week. Over time, you can increase to 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, and then longer if you feel up to it.


Cycling is another aerobic exercise that is suitable for those with foot neuropathy. It moves your ankles through a range of positions, but you do not have to put your full weight on your feet, nor are your joints subject to high impacts. The smooth movements should be comfortable and enjoy.


One more type of exercise which is ideal if you have neuropathy is going for a swim. You can try swimming if you find that even walking is too demanding because of weight and balance issues. In the water, you will be able to float, and you do not have to worry about falling.

Two young males swimming in a pool

Other Ways to Lessen Neuropathy Pain

While getting regular exercise can reduce neuropathy pain, it is just one component in your treatment plan. Here are a few other recommendations for decreasing your symptoms:

  • Wear the right socks and shoes: Choose socks that are made out of a soft, non-irritating material, and stick with adaptive shoes like Cadense.
  • Moderate alcohol and don’t smoke: Drinking a lot of alcohol can increase neuropathy symptoms (plus, it isn’t good for you). So, only drink in moderation. As for smoking, it is terrible for you, and can decrease circulation, worsening neuropathy. If you are a smoker, quit.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet that contains ample vitamin B12, healthy fats, and antioxidants can help to alleviate neuropathy symptoms. It is also essential to stay hydrated.
  • Get better sleep: If you do not get enough sleep, that can make neuropathic pain worse. For that reason, you should take steps to get a full, restful night of sleep every night if possible. While that can be a challenge with nerve pain, there are ways you can overcome the sleep disturbances that come with this condition. 
  • Try physical therapy: Chances are good that by now, you have adopted some postures or movements to try and protect the parts of your body that are affected by neuropathy. But some of those postures and movements may be unnatural and maladaptive. Working with a physical therapist can help you to restore strength, improve balance, and adopt habits that are healthier.
  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options: Prescription and non-prescription pain-relieving medications, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications and topical treatments can all help alleviate some of the symptoms of neuropathy. Other treatments your doctor can connect you with include spinal cord stimulation, scrambler therapy, intravenous immune globulin, plasma exchange and steroids.

A combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes gives you the best chance for a positive outcome in managing your foot neuropathy. Remember, it may take some time to see the results you are looking for. So, be patient and stick with the healthy changes you are making. Hopefully within a few weeks, you will start seeing some encouraging improvements.



To wrap up this post on exercises for neuropathy, let’s answer a few additional questions you might have.

Can exercise reverse neuropathy?

No, you cannot reverse the damage to your nerves by exercising. But you can reduce some of the symptoms of neuropathy through regular exercise.

Will walking help neuropathy in the feet?

Yes, walking can help alleviate some of the pain of neuropathy in your feet. Just make sure you are choosing suitable footwear like Cadense.

What activities should be avoided with neuropathy?

High-impact activities like jogging, running, and step aerobics are not ideal for people with neuropathy in their feet. Choose low-impact exercises instead.

Do squats help with neuropathy?

Yes, squats can help with neuropathy. When you perform squats, you build up strength in your lower body. 

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