Everyone living with diabetes, whether it be type 1 or type 2, knows that daily exercise is an essential part of maintaining stable blood sugars, as well as strength and flexibility. Comorbidities, such as heart disease, are also held off with a good exercise program. But for many people living with diabetes, exercise can be a challenge because of side effects - neuropathy and frozen joints being the most prevalent problems So, how do you get started when exercise hurts, or is uncomfortable?
Recently, I added a new service to my personal business called Gyrotonic ® exercise, because of my own experience with Gyrotonic ® and my torn rotator cuff. I have gotten more range of motion from Gyrotonic ® exercise than I have from two rounds of physical therapy!
The Gyrotonic ® method mimics the movements found in swimming, yoga, gymnastics and tai chi using machines, which alleviates much of the pressure felt during other forms of exercise. In other words, it is low stress on joints, but helps to lengthen and strengthen the ligaments and tendons throughout the full length of the body. Coupled with a regular cardiovascular workout or walking exercise, this would be a complete package for staying injury-free as well as decreasing the chances of neuropathy for a long time!
Anyone with diabetes knows that our flexibility can be damaged or lost due to the thickening of our connective tissue, which is caused by blood sugar fluxuation. So, the question is how to improve and maintain our muscular elasticity. As you learn the movements of the Gyrotonic ® method and your endurance improves, the exercises will gradually increase in intensity and repetition.
What’s unique to Gyrotonic ® is the multiple joint movement. Each movement asks the joint to move without compression in circular motions. Special attention is paid to increased mobility and stability of the spine, meaning we are less prone to injury!
Further, the Gyrotonic ® method enables one to put emphasis on the feet. With type 2 diabetes, this is very important since the small capillaries to the feet tend to have decreased circulation. Many of the Gyrotonic ® exercises help increase circulation by strengthening the range of motion to the foot and ankle, which can help prevent the loss of blood flow to the small capillaries. It can also prevent loss of balance by increasing proprioception in the foot and ankle. With other forms of exercise, it is important to wear good shoes, but Gyrotonic ® exercise is performed barefoot. If you have neuropathy, balance is the goal of this exercise.
Another big issue for diabetics is “frozen shoulder.” There are several parts to the shoulder that have to work rhythmically to prevent pain and inflammation, which leads to loss of range of movement, or what we call frozen shoulder. Often, many rehab programs address part of the puzzle but miss others. The benefit of the Gyrotonic ® method is that it works the arm as it glides and rolls three-dimensionally in the socket, scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle. However, the larger part of the puzzle is what the shoulder girdle rests on - the ribs - which attach to the spine. Unfortunately, these last two pieces are forgotten, so in moving and stretching the spine, ribs and shoulders down to the elbow, this method helps return movement and strength to the frozen shoulder.
Coupled with a regular cardiovascular workout or walking exercise, this would be a complete package for staying injury-free and neuropathy-free for a very long time! Here is a list of the benefits of the Gyrotronic ® exercise for someone with diabetes:
- Improve your body’s use of insulin.
- Improve muscle strength.
- Increase bone density and bone strength.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve blood circulation.
- Increase energy level and enhance work capacity.
- Reduce stress, promote relaxation, and release tension and anxiety.
In some cases, Gyrotonic ® sessions can be covered by your health insurance if the instructor is a physical therapist.
Recently, Shaquille O’Neal touted that he uses Gyrotonic ® as a part of his training. Athletes realize that cardio and strength training is not enough to keep the body injury-free, and so many are moving into practicing yoga, Pilates and Gyrotonic ® exercise.
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Wellness Center Owner, living with type 1 diabetes