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Exercising with Charcot: 4 Tips for Preventing Damage to your Feet

April 19, 2021

Finding the right activity level can be difficult for someone living with Charcot. This condition causes weakening of the bones, joints, and soft tissues of the foot or ankle over time. While living with Charcot can be unpredictable, it’s important to keep your body moving regularly to improve your overall health and wellness. Regular movement can help increase blood flow to the legs and feet, preventing severe complications that could result in amputation.

A good activity routine is an important part of staying healthy, but people living with Charcot and neuropathy must take special care to ensure they are getting the most out of their activity. Here are 4 tips for preventing damage to your feet while exercising with Charcot.

Tip #1: Focus on Low-Impact Exercises

Neuropathy, one of the main causes of Charcot, causes numbness and weakening that can make it difficult to safely exercise. It may be hard to feel your legs or feet, making some exercises hard to complete or even dangerous.

While exercising may be a bit more challenging for you, there are significant benefits to exercising regularly. Studies show that regular exercise can slow the progression of nerve damage, reducing the risk for diabetic foot ulcers and other complications.

Low-impact exercises are a great way for people with Charcot to begin moving. Some of the best options include:

Walking: Walking is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and scenery—while improving your overall health and wellbeing. Just 30-minutes of walking a day can help raise your heart rate and strengthen your muscles. If 30-minutes is too much, break up that time into smaller walks throughout the day. You can also invest in a treadmill or use one at a local fitness center.

Cycling: Whether riding outside or using a stationary bike, cycling can be a great exercise option. You can customize your bike and seat for the most comfortable experience. Those who can’t get out of the house easily or live in an area where biking is difficult can take advantage of purchasing a stationary bike. Joining a local fitness center is another option.

Swimming: Swimming takes the pressure off your joints and bones, which can be beneficial for those with Charcot or diabetic neuropathy. This is an excellent way to build endurance while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Yoga: A great option for those who tire easily, yoga can help increase your heart rate and improve strength and flexibility. Studies also show it’s great for relieving anxiety and managing stress.

Tip #2: Inspect Your Feet After Each Exercise Session

Because it may be difficult to feel the pain sensations caused by blisters and diabetic foot ulcers, inspecting your feet after each exercise session is crucial. Make it a habit to remove your shoes and socks to check for blisters, cuts, swelling, redness, or signs of infection.

If your feet have become damp with sweat, make sure to gently clean them in lukewarm water. It’s also important to dry them carefully, spending extra time focusing on the area between the toes. Moisture can get trapped in the cracks of the feet, putting you at higher risk for diabetic foot ulcers or infection. Take the time to ensure your feet are completely dry before replacing your shoes and socks.

It’s important to put clean socks on after cleaning your feet, as this will help reduce bacteria buildup and prevent complications. If you ever notice an area of concern, be sure to call your doctor to schedule an inspection of your feet.

Tip #3: Invest in the Right Footwear

Choosing the right footwear can be one of the best ways to protect your feet from injury. It’s a good idea to speak with your podiatrist about what shoes are best for your individual situation. They may suggest that you be fitted for custom orthotic shoes or insoles to prevent rubbing and injury.

More tips for choosing the best shoe for exercising with Charcot include:

  • Cushioned sole: Adequate cushioning is important for people with Charcot or diabetic neuropathy.
  • Removable insole: This allows you to replace the insole with a custom-fitted orthotic insole.
  • Arch support: This helps reduce pressure on the foot and absorb the shock from walking, preventing further damage or irritation to the feet.
  • Seamless lining: This helps reduce the chance of seams causing friction and irritation to the feet.

Tip #4: Don’t Overdo It

Because neuropathy makes it hard to feel pain and discomfort, it can be easy for people with Charcot to unknowingly overdo it. Stretch before and after each workout to reduce the chance of straining a muscle and prevent muscle tightness.

If you feel unsteady at any time, sit down and rest immediately. It’s important to recognize signs of fatigue and not to push yourself. If balance becomes a regular concern, consider changing your exercise routine to include stationary exercise. Your body is unique, and determining the best workout for you may take some time.

Be sure to discuss your plans to exercise with your doctor. For some, remote patient monitoring (RPM) with Siren Socks can help ensure your diabetes and neuropathy are controlled. Siren Socks track your foot temperature and recognize inflammation at the onset. Trained nurses continuously monitor this data and coordinate care with your doctor when signs of inflammation or injury are detected. This reduces the risk of long-term injury associated with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and Charcot.

Interested in learning more about Siren Socks?

Temperature monitoring helps improve outcomes related to diabetic foot ulcers. Don’t take our word for it. Talk to your doctor about prescribing Siren Socks today! Find a Siren-certified provider here.

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