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Stretching Exercises for Patients with Diabetes
Limb stretches help diabetic patients control blood sugar
I'm primarily interested in the UK, but since the 80's, the numbers of people with diabetes around the world, and the percentage of the population suffering the effects of diabetes, is soaring out of all proportion to the countries ability to cope with the fall out, as patients require massive amounts of GP time, hospital time and surgery time, along with evermore complicated procedures as the disease develops. This is especially true of Type 2 diabetes.
Why do so many diabetic patients lose their legs?
Sadly, this is often true, and is due, in part, from lack of information to the patient, and a lack of understanding of the processes inside the body that are going on in the background.
Diabetes is a devastating disease, but there is much that can be done to manage the situation and to address the many complications that can arise with diabetes. It doesn't matter how difficult it's going to be, to have any quality of life, you are going to have to make some life changes. The best way to deal with this is to make those changes early, to anticipate and address what might happen and what will likely happen.
Firstly, foot problems are among the most common and serious of diabetic complications, with an average of 70% of limb amputations being attributed to diabetic progression.
Nerves, and the blood vessels that supply them, that are subjected to high levels of blood sugars or glucose over an extended time frame are slowly damaged beyond their ability to repair themselves. This changes how they manage sensation and a disease called peripheral neuropathy develops in which nerves lose their ability to sense touch, pain, temperature and other sensations.
Thus, it is possible to stand on shards of glass, nails, stones, drawing pins, and not even know you've done it! Pressure sores from shoes, cuts, bruises, or any other injury to the foot can go unnoticed for long periods of time. This is obviously a very dangerous situation, as it is possible to get into a bath that is very much hotter than is safe, and to hold your feet too close to a fire when you are cold.
In addition to this, some 15% of diabetic patients will get diabetic foot ulcers at some time during their diabetes, along with skin loss and blisters. The risk of lower-extremity amputation is increased 8-fold in these patients once an ulcer develops.
What causes diabetic foot ulcers?
The very neuropathic (nerve) and vascular (blood vessel) damage we've just been talking about. Vascular disease of the smaller blood vessels that normally deliver the nutrients and oxygen essential to keep us healthy, is reduced or severely slowed. This makes it very diffucult for damaged tissue to heal and extends wound healing times greatly.
In addition, diabetics have a compromised immune system, that is weakened sufficiently for infection to become a problem. Infections kill good tissue and leave dead necrotic tissue behind that allows infection to move from tissue, to bone, to blood, and around the rest of the body.
It is at this point that dead, non-functioning parts of the body become a threat the the rest of the body and amputation is the only option. A frightening thought indeed!
So is there anything I can do about this to help myself?
Yes, you can stretch. Stretch early in the morning, and stretch often during the day.
There is a great deal of research now to show that stretching can help the body control blood glucose levels, improve circulation and burn extra calories. Flexibility exercises and stretching of the foot and ankle has extra benefits because as well as improving range of motion of the limbs, better pressure distribution around the plantar aspect of the foot can positively affect the gait and your risk of foot ulceration.
By the time you have any damage to your legs and feet, the chance to engage in moderate to intensive exercise is deminished considerably, and vigorous aerobic activity involving fast walking or running is impossible. Decreased range of motion, ankle stiffness, peripheral neurophathy and open wounds will cause massive gait abnormalities, decreased balance and an increased susceptibility to falls and injury.
Let me show you how to stretch those limbs. In its simplest form, this can be 'drawing' the alphabet in the air, with your foot, as in ABC, whilst extending the leg and foot. Other stretches will include all of the major muscle groups, which you engage and disengage for 15-20 seconds at a time.
There is a great deal of research now into stretching limbs for diabetes. Not exercise that involves gym, pounding the road, busting a gut on a bike or lifting weights, but simple, non damaging limb stretching. Experimental study groups have shown that blood glucose goes down after stretching. How can this be?
The stretching opens up the small blood vessels that feed the muscles and joints, delivering the glucose that is needed by the cells. It seems that insulin resistance is actually a poor circulation problem because if you can't efficiently deliver blood and insulin into the cells, how can either possibly do their job?
Stretching Limbs for Diabetes. This simple limb stretching routine for diabetic patients is easy to learn and easy to perform. It can lower your blood sugar by as much as 23%, improve your heart rate and strength, and at the same time double your resting calorie burn (100 cal/hr resting rate + 100 cal/hr extra burn), just from stretching. The body takes glucose from the blood and uses it to fuel muscles. Stretching hauls glucose out of the blood into your cells. The best way to learn this is to be shown, so that you can continue to do this by yourself at home. No more than a couple of sessions should be necessary to complete this training. Visit The Haven Healing Centre in Blagdon for a course of stretching treatments. Appointments and a treatment price list are available by clicking here. I look forward to welcoming you soon. Phil.
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Note: DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.
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