For people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, falls whilst walking down stairs are nearly unrecoverable and account for a large proportion of fall-related deaths. Nonetheless, exercise might help lower their risk of falling.

When nerves in the legs and feet are damaged from diabetes, people often have trouble on stairs. They go up and down stairs more slowly and clumsily than healthy people because of weak muscles, sensory damage (loss of feeling) and poor coordination.

The underlying reason behind why fall occurs during the dangerous tasks of stair ascent and descent, which could have helped in finding a potential solution to reduce the risk, hasn’t been clear yet.

Overall, the patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy are significantly slower at activating their knee and ankle muscles than the healthy group, and significantly slower at reaching peak knee-muscle activation.

For diabetics with peripheral neuropathy, who’d like to strengthen their muscles and reduce their risk of falling, using isometric exercises like calf raises and knee extensions can be beneficial. Individuals should rapidly stretch these muscles for a second and then relax for three seconds. Resistance training such as with weight machines, free weights or calisthenics might also be helpful.

How will it help you?
Improving the strength and response of the extensor muscles will result in faster strength generation, which should improve stability during stair ascent and descent. These exercises could help you build up strength and thereby avoid future falls.

Before starting to exercise, however, patients should get clearance from their doctors because not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and some programs may result in injury.

Content modified from the post by Janice Neumann on Reuters.

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