As strange as it may sound, your nervous system, which includes your brain and its 100 billion neurons, is in essence all one gigantic nerve. Imagine pointing your big toe upwards. When you do this your whole nervous system gets pulled and moved!
Do nerves move within your body?
Nerves originate at the brain and spinal cord and end at your limbs and organs. Nerves are contained within tunnels made up of connective tissue and are able to bend and stretch within these tunnels. These tunnels serve as protective sheaths and are called the epineurium. Every movement we make causes our nerves to glide and stretch which results in constant tension throughout our daily activities. The nerves within your body form transactions with other nearby tissue structures (such as muscles and joints) as they travel through the tunnels in the body. As nerves pass through these tunnels, they may get trapped by scar tissue, adhesions or tight muscles following surgery, injuries or periods of poor postures. In case the nerves get stuck, a nerve tension is created that can lead to pain, tightness, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.
What is nerve flossing?
Nerve flossing, also known as neural mobilization, is the physical-mechanical process of moving parts of the neural network. It is a Physiotherapy technique which helps nerves move within your body in order to decrease pain and inflammation. Specific exercises help ensure that the nerves are pulled and then freed from adhesion and entrapment. One end of the nerve is pulled, while the other is relaxed, therefore allowing the nerves to glide in their sheaths. This is made possible because of the capability of nerves to move a few centimeters within the tunnels during these exercises.
Advantages of nerve flossing
Restoring the normal condition of the peripheral nerves results in:
- Increased sensory perception
- Greater range of motion
- Restored normal nerve functions after suffering from scar tissues, adhesions or tight muscles
- Improved signal conduction to the muscles
Indications of nerve flossing
There are many conditions that may require nerve flossing to be included in the treatment plan. Some of these conditions include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Nerve root disorders
- Spinal pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hamstring flexibility issues
Types of nerve flossing
There are different nerve flossing techniques which are specific for different parts of the body. Your Physiotherapist will educate you about the specific technique that best suits your condition. Two of the techniques are explained here (please seek advice of your Physiotherapists before attempting):
- Nerve flossing for the ulnar nerve: Take your index finger and touch it to your thumb while holding the other fingers in the air. Bring your hand towards your face leading with your pinky, as if you are going to place it over your eye. Remember not to push too hard. Start with 10 repetitions (2 to 3 times daily).
- Nerve flossing for sciatica and piriformis syndrome: Sit in a chair. Straighten the affected leg and point your chin towards your chest. Only straighten the leg as far as you can without it hurting too much. Lower the leg and look up towards the ceiling. Do this 15 to 20 times (2 to 3 times daily).