Physical Therapy Can Help In The Management of Diabetes
Diabetes Awareness Month is an opportune time to brush up on some basic facts about this condition, while also learning how supplementary treatments can help patients manage it. The following information may be useful if you or someone you know is diabetic and looking to change their lifestyle by introducing a higher level of activity.
Who Does Diabetes Affect?
Diabetes is a fairly widespread illness. According to the CDC, upwards of 100 million Americans currently have diabetes or are prediabetic – that’s over 30% of the population
The condition is divided into separate types. Type 1 diabetes is likely an autoimmune disorder. Experts theorize that the immune system mistakenly attacks cells that are supposed to produce insulin, causing the presence of symptoms. This type of diabetes most commonly develops during childhood.
Type 2 diabetes, which may develop at any stage in life, occurs when cells become insulin-resistant. The pancreas is unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels and the need to introduce insulin into the body from an outside source.
Another form of diabetes, gestational diabetes, only develops in women during pregnancy and typically resolves soon after delivery. After experiencing this condition during their pregnancy, women are at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Managing Diabetes With Physical Therapy
Treatment plans for this condition vary on a patient-by-patient basis. Because diabetes can affect the body in numerous potential ways, it’s important for diabetic patients to coordinate with their physicians to find the best solutions for their care. A doctor will design the right treatment plan for each individual patient, which is subject to change at any time. That said, treatment generally involves monitoring blood sugar levels and taking medication.
However, patients often experience better results when they supplement these methods with additional resources. Diabetes Awareness Month is a popular time of year to learn more about other effective forms of treatment for diabetics. Physical therapy for diabetes, for example, can be very helpful.
Why? This is true because chronic pain is often a symptom of this illness. By practicing physical therapy exercises for diabetes, patients can learn to move more comfortably and safely when performing daily tasks, as well as help themselves to feel better overall.
Diabetes and Physical Therapy
Physical therapy exercises for diabetes can also help patients restore and increase strength. This is particularly important for older diabetic patients, who often experience weakness as a symptom of the condition.
This weakness can cause balance problems over time. With physical therapy for diabetes, experts help patients improve their strength and learn to maintain their balance. This guards against injuries from falls, or overexerting yourself throughout your day to day activities.
For those with type 2 diabetes, some of the recommended exercises from physical therapists include the following
- Walking – The only thing necessary to complete this activity is a good pair of shoes and a trail, path or sidewalk. A brisk walk for 30 minutes 3 to 5 times a week will put you on your way to meeting recommended aerobic exercise recommendation goals.
- Cycling – This is a low-impact exercise that can be done to help strengthen muscles and limit joint pain.
- Swimming – This is another activity that puts very little strain on the body’s joints, but gives you a whole body workout at the same time. It’s not about simply swimming laps, either; stretching, water aerobics, and even floating are good choices, too.
- Aerobic dance – Zumba or something similar is a great option for those with diabetes that are willing and able to move around freely. Not only will this exercise your body, but it will give you a chance to connect with others that are looking to improve their health in similar ways to you.
- Resistance band exercises – Using this tool during exercise will allow you to train in a very different way than usual. In order to use them properly, though, consulting with a physical therapist is a good idea, because not only will they help you learn the safest ways to use the bands, they can assist you with exercises that are appropriate for your current health and fitness level.
- Yoga – Life is all about finding balance, and a yoga studio is the perfect place to do this. While it’s not as physically exerting as other types of exercises, yoga will help to train your body over time and can provide a mental boost as well as a physical one.
It’s also worth noting that staying active via any of the above options helps the body regulate blood glucose levels. Diabetes and physical therapy are connected in this respect because practicing effective but safe exercises can lead to better glucose regulation by the body.
For many diabetics, their feet are a source of trouble, and need to be looked after especially well. Physical therapists are another set of eyes on your feet, and can help recognize new sores in addition to aiding in the healing of older ones. Physical therapists can apply different types of bandages, dressings, and treatments to help sores heal faster.
Additionally, physical therapists are uniquely qualified to identify how items like footwear may impact a diabetic’s comfort and overall safety when engaging in basic activities like walking. They can suggest or provide additional products to boost comfort and safety, as well as answer questions that patients like you – or your loved ones – may have.
It’s very important for diabetics to stick to the treatment plans outlined by their doctors. In addition to this, the more known about the condition and how to successfully manage it, (even by those only associated with someone that’s been diagnosed) the better. That being said, it’s also important to not overlook the link between diabetes and physical therapy. Again, it doesn’t have to be Diabetes Awareness Month to learn more about how certain physical therapy exercises for diabetes can benefit your daily routine, or for you to begin making changes in your life that will improve your health over time.
To find a physical therapist near you that can develop an exercise plan specific to your diabetes or answer questions about which physical activities will suit your lifestyle use the BetterPT practice locator or BetterPT app. By monitoring your condition, taking all prescribed medications, and working with a physical therapist, people can enjoy an active, healthy life and not be limited by a diabetes diagnosis.