Best Foot and Ankle Exercises for People with Diabetes

People with diabetes are at risk for an amputation. Exercise in people with diabetes has multiple benefits, such as decreasing blood pressure, controlling glucose levels, decreasing your risk of foot ulcers, weight loss, and more.

Specifically, foot and ankle exercises have shown significant improvement in decreasing joint stiffness and your chance of amputation. These exercises can also increase your mobility and your chance for faster healing foot ulcer, according to the Lower Extremity Review.

Below are some exercises you can do for your lower extremities from the Lower Extremity Review:

  1. The Alphabet
    • Sit with your back straight and on the edge of your chair. Lift your right leg up and spell the alphabet with your right foot. Repeat with your left foot. Start by spelling the alphabet once with each foot.
  2. Toe Taps
    • Sit on the edge of your seat and remove your shoes. Slowly raise your toes on your right foot, keeping your heel to the ground. Next, do the same with your left foot. Continue while alternating each foot for about one minute.
  3. Heel Taps
    • These are opposite of toe taps. Sit up straight on the edge of your chair and rock your feet forward onto your toes while raising your heels. You can do this with both feet at the same time or alternating for about one minute each foot.
  4. Toes lifts
    • Sit on the edge of your seat with your back straight and shoes off. Keep your feet flat to the ground and lift the big toe up, followed by the little ones one-by-one for approximately one minute.
  5. Calf Stretch
    • Stand behind your chair and place both hands on the chair. Step forward with your right leg keeping your left leg straight- you should be feeling your calves stretching. Hold for one minute then switch legs.

Repeat these exercises 3 times a week and you will start to see improvements in joint pain and circulation, according to a study done by the US National Library of Medicine.  Always remember to consult your doctor before trying any new exercise.