Raleigh Chiropractor Explains the Benefits of Flossing For Your Nerves
I had heard from my dentist over the years about the many benefits of flossing my teeth. I have even been known to actually floss my teeth on occasion, but nobody ever mentioned the benefits of flossing my nerves.
You have probably heard or experienced nerve symptoms like pain traveling down your leg or down your arm or tingling in your leg, toes or arms and hands, as well as numbness anywhere along a nerve path. All of these fun symptoms indicate the nerve is not a happy camper.
Nerve flossing is an emerging home exercise technique that helps release tension on a nerve due to restriction and irritation from things like: adhesion, inflammation, compression, or scarring. Think of it as shortening and then lengthening the nerve as you glide it along its path through the body. These exercises require no actual floss : ) nor do you need any type of equipment to perform them.
I will go over two basic flossing techniques called Sliders and Tensioners for the sciatic nerve in the leg.
Sliders, as the name implies, is a flossing technique done slowly and in a controlled manner that “slides” the nerve from its point of origin all the way to its end point. Sliders move the nerve more than tensioners and is often the one I would start with first. So when doing this technique think of it relaxing one part of the nerve while simultaneously stretching the other part. It sounds confusing, but stay with me here and look at the pictures and lets see if we can get this coordinated. We will start with the sciatic nerve slider in the seated position.
- Lift your head up and back like you are going to look at the ceiling; at the same time kick your right leg/foot (whichever leg is experiencing the nerve symptoms) up; try to keep the two actions moving in the same directions at the same speed.
- Return your head forward bringing your chin toward your chest as the right foot returns downward back to the floor.
- Repeat this action 10x and do 2 sets of 10 twice a day.
- You should only move your leg or neck to the point of tension not pain (we are trying to get you feeling better not worse). More range but with more pain is not better in this case. As you perform the reps you may notice that tension points gets further out as you ease the nerve along its path.
When your head goes back you are relaxing the origin of the nerve and at the same time the leg is moving up you are stretching the end point of the nerve and then doing the opposite slides the nerve in the other direction thus creating movement along the nerve path.
Now to do the Tensioner. As the name implies we are putting the nerve under some tension to release it from adhesion or points of “sticking” along the nerve. I want to stress again you should feel tension with this exercise, not pain. We are not concerned with how far you can get, we are only trying to put the nerve under some tension to release it not stretch it to aggravation.
- In the seated position move your chin toward your chest and hold it there.
- With your chin at your chest kick your right leg (again the one that has the nerve symptoms) into a straight position to tension and hold it there.
- Next, add to this by pulling your foot and toes up toward your knee to tension only, no pain!
- Once you feel the stretch in the back of your leg return it to the bent position.
- Repeat this 10x. At first I would not hold this tension at all. Meaning I would get it to that tension point and release it back down. When things start to improve symptom wise, you could start holding it in the tension position for 3-5 seconds.
Again, nerve flossing is typically done when someone has presenting nerve symptoms like pain down the buttocks or leg, or tingling or numbness in the leg or foot. You don’t have to do it every night after brushing your teeth! It works best when combined with your adjustments to restore normal function to the area. I will go over the arm flossing in a later email if this one does not confuse everybody and seems to be helpful.
I did see the sun this week and it looks like spring is right around the corner! As always thanks for letting me be your Raleigh Chiropractor!