4 Ways to Exercise With Bell’s Palsy

1. Relax and Rest Above All

Although it’s hard not to panic about facial weakness and paralysis, take heart that most Bell’s palsy sufferers do recover the use of their facial muscles. In most cases, Bell’s palsy symptoms will resolve themselves within several weeks. Talk to your doctor about becoming proactive in the recovery process. He or she may recommend a physical therapist who can help with some exercises that will strengthen your facial muscles, sometimes known as “facial retraining.” These exercises are generally most effective once some initial nerve function returns.

2. Use Caution in General Exercising

Take it easy when working out during the several weeks of overt Bell’s palsy symptoms. If you normally run, walk or ride your bike outdoors, you might consider taking it inside for a few weeks. The protection of your affected eye is of the utmost importance. Since your facial muscles can’t close your eyelid, your blink reflex is gone. Blinking normally protects us from dust and other particles in the air. Reduce your chances for corneal damage by being extremely protective of your affected eye for the duration of the symptoms.

3. Feel Free to Massage Your Face Gently

While not generally necessary, massaging your face with your hand may help in the recovery process. Light facial massage can, in many cases, help to stimulate the facial muscles. Many Bell’s palsy sufferers also find relief for some of the anxiety they feel by taking an active role in the recovery of their facial muscles. There are accounts, however, of inadvertently triggering inappropriate muscles to compensate when there is too much stimulation of flaccid muscles. Wait until there is at least some nerve recovery before you begin massage.

4. Learn Coping Exercises in Addition to Facial Exercises

For many victims of Bell’s palsy, just coping with the alarming symptoms of the condition is the biggest priority. It’s completely normal to feel upset, disturbed and out of control. Relaxation exercises such as slow deep breathing or visualization can be helpful, and you can do them on your own. You may also consider alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy or guided imagery to help your whole body to relax and your mind to cope.