Healthy Aging Tips from Sit and Be Fit's Mary Ann Wilson RN
Sit and Be Fit TV host, Mary Ann Wilson RN

Foot and Leg Exercises for Neuropathy

By Mary Ann Wilson, RN

Here are some great foot and leg exercises for anyone managing the condition of neuropathy. These exercises can be done from a seated position. Move to the front edge of the chair and firmly plant the feet on the ground. Take a moment to get the body into good postural alignment with the shoulders back and down and spine lengthened.  (For postural strengthening exercises, click here.)

Foot and Ankle Exercise #1 – Keeping heels on the floor, lift your toes off the floor, and tap them vigorously. Repeat as many times as tolerated.

Foot and Ankle Exercise #2 – Keeping heels together and on the floor, lift your toes off the floor as high as possible. Turn toes out, and put them back on the floor. Your feet should form a “V”. Lift your toes again, bring them together, and put them back on the floor. Repeat as many times as tolerated.

Leg and Ankle Exercise – Straighten one knee, lifting the leg an inch or two off the ground. Point and flex your foot and ankle 5-10 times. Circle the ankle clockwise then counter clockwise 5-10 times each. Repeat on the other leg.

Foot Somatosensory Exercise – Roll a small ball (such as a tennis ball) underneath one foot for several minutes and change feet. This gives the feet a great “self-massage” and stimulates the receptors on the bottom of the foot. Those managing neuropathy would benefit from doing this exercise daily.

For more information about the condition of neuropathy, click here

Related neuropathy management blogs:

Hand and Finger Exercises for Neuropathy

Balance Exercises for Neuropathy

Fall Prevention Exercises for Somatosensory System

 

Recommended DVDs:

35 Comments

    1. Sorry to hear that. Did the exercises work for you? I was just diagnosed with neuropathy in my foot and going for nerve conduction Friday . I thought all my foot issues were from a severe bunion but it’s the neuropathy. Unless somebody else has this pain… They have no idea .

      1. I tried everything for my ideoathatic neuropathy, I have had it for 4 years now and so afraid to put my feet on the floor in the morning because it hurts so bad. My quality of life now slowly going, as I can no longer work (semi retired ) but need to supplement my income since these meds and dr. Visits are not inexpensive. You are right, unless you have had it, you have no idea how excruciating this pain can be. I have bought so many pairs of shoes, orthotics- podiatrist- neurologists- accupunture-the list goes on and on….Best of luck to you all!

      2. I have neurophathy really bad, I’ve had for 10 years. It’s the worse thing that can happen to a person. I can’t hardly walk anymore. It’s totally taken over me life. I have no life because of it. I’m just starting the exercise.

        1. Yes do excercise please, and ask about usung Tumerck and ginger tea to drink for some stomach and pain relief
          Look jnto taking more B Complex foods and high B 12 foods. And if possible liquid total B complex and B 12 along with liwuid minerals . Talk to your foctor about this along with any meds your taking . Very cool foot baths with Epsom Salts help a lot during the day and begore bedtime …… and the body absorbs the Epsom Salt minerals as well. I harnessed very bad neuropathy that was going up to my hands ….. and it is so much lessened today as compared to when it started many years ago
          Yhrte are ways to combat this painful nerve problem .. and gentle at first foot massages if you can take being touched?
          It takes time to get new nerve endings to grow and respond to these bettering body conditions . In time if your progressive with your treatments you should feel better . All takes time . My ptYers for you to get what is needed and know what to do for your neuropathy

      3. Hi Cindy,

        I have sensory neuropathy and for
        Far too long. I have extreme excruciating
        Pain and extremes in temp changes
        In my r foot. I probably do have an idea
        Of what your pain is like.
        Unfortunately I have had this pain
        For 7 years. It has turned into chronic
        Pain. I hope you are doing better and will pray for you.

        1. Has anybody tried CBD? My neuropathy has just started but my legs and feet are numb and I can’t walk I take the B complex I have to change the B 12 to the right kind and I take CBD when necessary it does help please try it if you are in pain

  1. My cancer docs since I’m in recovery gave me drugs for my neuropathy but nothing else. These exercises look like something I can do to hopefully ease the effects of neuropathy. So yes, thanks.

  2. Yes the exercises are easy. I just discovered this web site but have added it to my Bookmarks as I most definitely will be back to look around as it appears there is a whole “lotta” good information beside these tips for foot exercises for neuropathy. Blessings to all who come this way.

  3. just discovered you today. had a bad situation where mylegs and arms would not function.went to emergency.they did not tell me about the exercises so dear old google came through for me

  4. I’m going to try these exercises hoping that it will relieve the neuropathy pain. It’s so severe and unbearable I will give anything to get rid of this pain. Thank you.

  5. I believe I have nerve damage in my thigh/calf area. Tomorrow I will find out. My leg was throbbing and I accidentally flexed my foot a couple of times. I did it again because it felt better. The throbbing went away. At least for now. So I googled it and you are here! I googled it because I thought it was in my mind that it felt better so I wanted to see if that was possible. I’ve been in pain for 2 years so it’s hard for me to trust something that might work. I see now it really did help. Going to try your exercises.

    1. Hi John,
      Sorry for the delayed response. There are so many variables involved with neuropathy that we don’t feel comfortable making any recommendations. We suggest you talk with your doctor about walking guidelines for your particular situation, both the frequency and distance.

    2. I was told by my doctor not to run, the only fear was of falling. I am suffering very severe neiropathy from recent chemo treatments. They just as well told me to jump off a bridge, I have been a runner all my life and this is devastating for me. I have been trying to walk but the pain overcomes. Hopefully some of these exercises will bring me back to at least a walk, and dog gone it a slow run someday!! Thank you for posting these.

  6. I thought I was the only one who has this complaint. I feel so much better reading other people’s problems. I have been going to the gym for last 18 months daily but my neuropathy has come on during that time, but could have been worse. I would think. I am 86 and was in a wheelchair 2yesrsago.

  7. My Peripheral neuropathy is so bad that it usually keeps me from sleeping. I am up right now at 3:11am and my right foot is burning, but cold all at the same time. I have this tingling and restlessness going on whenever I try to lay down. I just soaked my feet in warm water as I read on one site and just rolled the ball under my foot after I read this post. It seems I will go another few hours without rest, hopefully my Lyrica kicks in real soon…this is the worse issue anyone could have. Like someone else mentioned, it eats away at your quality of life.

    1. Kendra, I have neuropathy and restless leg syndrome, both for well over 12 yrs. Sounds like you may have rls also? If moving your leg helps it’s one of the classic signs. Both together are a double whammy.

      It helps to learn to learn to accept these conditions and not be upset. Being upset just puts our nerves on fray which aggravates them. Hard to do? YES!! I joined a group in my area to do living successfully in chronic pain. It helped.

  8. Sorry to read that all of you are struggling with peripherial neuropathy , i’m also having a lot of trouble is been over 3 years after battleling cancer and believe me i complety understand , much love to all of you and hopefully we can cure our self soon !

  9. Ten years of peripheral neuropathy, of which the first eight were full of screaming big toe pain and horrible opioids. Then in 2016 my wife took me to a marijuana shop where I discovered cannabis oil and pain became a thing of the past. All my oil now is homegrown and homemade. Looking forward to my 61st wedding anniversary and 85th birthday this summer. Come to beautiful Colorado.

    1. Dear Horace Smith,

      Canabis Oil seems the cure, but do you rub it onto your painful feet or drink it down — and what quantities?

      Warm wishes and thanks in advance…………..frederick

  10. I’ve found that if you can get an electric foot massager (Holds either hot or cold water) and put cold water (As cold as you can stand it) and massage your feet for about 15 minutes at a time 3 or 4 times a day, plus doing these exercises, you should feel a difference in just a couple of days. Remember, use COLD water, because this condition is caused by nerve pain. (You use warm or hot water for muscle pain.) I also take Tylenol and Advil jell caps three times a day. There are no magic bullets for this! I’ve suffered with this for 10 years and it seems to get worse with age. Heck, EVETRHING aches and hurts worse with advanced age. And exercise slowly and carefully. You don’t want to cause more pain than you already have.

  11. I have post op shock-induced peripheral neuropathy. I can hardly walk. I am 75 years old, gaining weight while eating conservatively, and desperately needing to find a solution. Any helpful info would be greatly appreciated.

  12. I have neuropathic pots and the pain in my legs is unbearable most days standing and sitting causes pain laying is much better. I found you on TV and started to exercise with you sitting down to exercise is much easier than standing and all but passing out. Thank you for being on tv.

  13. Mine has slowly developed over that past 10 years. Started as cold feet and aching , then like feet on a cold garage floor with superficial numbness of one toe after another, then burning and aching, until most of the feet are numb on the surface but with deeper sense of burning and pain up the outside of my legs. Not much helps except lying down and getting the soles of my feet off the floor. It seems to be vascular-related because it gets worse when sitting for longer periods, particularly on a hard chair. I’m concerned about using cold on them as they are likely suffering from lack of blood flow and cold will just reduce blood flow more. In fact it might make them feel better short term because it may fully anesthetized them like them from lack of blood supply. However the damage from that might actually make if progress faster? How long have you been using cold to help?

    1. Hi Marilynn,
      Yes, these exercises would be appropriate for your condition. Here is a great resource for you: take a look at the Naboso Barefoot Technology website, http://nabosotechnology.com/, they have an insole designed by Dr. Emily Splichal, a podiatrist, that helps those managing neuropathy. She was a guest instructor on the new television series we just shot and is fantastic. We are excited to share her research with our viewers managing neuropathy!

  14. Alpha lipoic acid is widely used in Germany and elsewhere. And in my experience is v helpful and quickly relieves neuropathy pain. Recommended to me by a leading UK researcher. Available without prescription in eg Germany & Austria in tabs of up to 600 mg; in UK up to 100. Cost not unreasonable. Helped me, and foot massager may have done – jury out on that one.

  15. I have the nerve pain (burning, tingling, jabbing, aching, cramping) in both of my legs, feet and arms. How do you do the exercises or take a walk if it hurts to stand or even put your feet down on the floor. It’s seems to me that exercising or activity causes more pain. Do you have to just keep plugging thru the pain and do the exercises anyway or will it make it worse?

    1. Dear Becky,
      Please forgive the delayed response. Pain during exercise is your body telling you to back off. Start SLOW! Do what you can WITHOUT creating pain. Even if you can do just do a single ankle roll each day, it’s important to try. As time goes on, you will likely find you can do a little more each week. In the meantime, practice some light, gentle, stroking of your legs, feet and arms. Start the movements away from the center of the body and stroke toward the heart. Try doing daily seated exercises that involve the trunk and the parts of your body that don’t generate pain with movement. This will help keep your circulation moving. An example might be, lifting your hips side to side, tilting the pelvis forward and back, circling the upper body and shoulders. We hope you have our Neuropathy brochure and exercise guide. If not, call us toll-free, at 1-888-678-9438, and we will send your way. Most importantly, don’t give up on exercise. We are cheering you on and wishing for you a miraculous full recovery over time!

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