Overcome Sciatica With Nerve Gliding Exercises

nerve gliding for sciatica

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica describes the feeling of discomfort, tingling, pain, or even complete loss of sensation on the back of the leg more specifically the rear part of the thigh and calf.

The occurrence of sciatica happens when there is irritation or pressure on the sciatic nerve, which gives it its name.

sciatic nerve

This can occur either directly in the glute or thigh area where this nerve is located. It can also occur indirectly due to irritation or impingement of the spinal nerve roots that combine to form the sciatic nerve. 

Presently, the nerves within our body travel and shift alongside the rest of our body’s movements.

This phenomenon is identified as ‘neuro-dynamics’. Generally, this movement occurs with no hindrances or restrictions, allowing the nerves to smoothly travel within a safeguarding covering without experiencing any tightness or strain.

Specifically regarding the sciatic nerve, it typically moves freely up and down our leg, while its corresponding nerve roots effortlessly navigate in and out of the spinal column. 

Whenever a nerve is agitated due to direct physical force or inflammation it can result in pain and altered feeling in the specific areas of the skin that the nerve surrounds and serves.

Continuous physical force on a nerve can restrict the blood flow and bring about pain and loss of sensation. Alternatively, inflammation or rubbing of a nerve causes pain and a prickling sensation.

In the case of the sciatic nerve these referred symptoms are experienced in the glutes or buttocks and the backside of the thigh. It can also occur less commonly in the calf where the sciatic nerve divides into the fibular and tibial nerves. 

When there is a condition that affects the sensitivity of the sciatic nerve the function of the nerve can be compromised.

This is not good because when the nerve becomes too sensitive the surrounding muscles will create tension in an attempt to keep the nerve still.

This restriction of nerve movement can cause it to become stuck and strained leading to even more intense pain and numbness and other possible problems down the road.

In the case of the sciatic nerve, this often results in tension felt in the buttock, hamstring, and calf muscles. 

pinched sciatic nerve
Impingement of a nerve and restriction of its movement always leads to problems

This problem can work both ways as if the muscles of the lower back thighs or glutes begin to overly tighten for some reason it can cause the nerve to be compressed and the sciatic nerve may become stuck at some point along its length.

How To Treat Sciatica and Releive Sciatic Nerve Pain

For the effective treatment of sciatica, it is important to focus on restoring regular movement and sliding of the sciatic nerve and the spinal nerves involved in its formation.

We must restimulate it in order to recover and get back to knowing how to react to the stimulation it has been previously used to. This can be achieved through specific exercises that involve gliding or flossing the nerves.

It is key to note that the goal of these exercises is not to stretch or tighten the sciatic nerve but rather to move it. Sliding it back and forth. This helps promote normal neuro-dynamics and may alleviate muscle tension that may be restricting the nerve’s normal movement.

Incorporating nerve gliding exercises into your workout or recovery plan is a key way to relieve any pain or numbness along the sciatic nerve you may have been experiencing.

Even if you have not been experiencing any of these symptoms it is an excellent addition that can be put in place in order to prevent these symptoms and sciatica altogether.

Most Effective Nerve Gliding Exercises For Sciatica

Sitting Sciatic Nerve Glide

  • Find a comfortable chair to sit in
  • Extend your neck and back as opposed to flexing them
  • Extend one leg straight in front of you
  • Point and flex your toes on said leg
  • Bend your head forward at the same time
  • Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds
  • Return to the starting position and switch legs
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

Sciatic Nerve Glide Full Strech

  • Lie back flat on the floor with legs straight out
  • Bend one knee up high enough so you can grab your foot
  • Grab that same leg and slowly pull it across the opposite side of your body towards the opposing shoulder (If the right leg is grabbed pull it across towards the left shoulder)
  • Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds
  • Return to the starting position and do the other leg
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions 

Supine Sciatic Nerve Glide

  • Lie back flat on the floor with legs straight out
  • Bend one knee up and grab behind it
  • Straighten your knee so your leg is pointing to the sky
  • While straight flex and extend your ankle  numerous times you can even make ankle circles
  • When done lower leg back to bent position
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions
  • When finished lower leg back to the straight-out grounded position
  • Repeat steps for the opposite leg if desired

Standing Sciatic Nerve Glide

  • With your leg bent place one foot on an elevated surface
  • The surface can be any height but the higher the surface the better the stretch
  • In this position slowly bend the torso forward until the desired stretch is achieved.
  • Hold for 10 to 60 seconds
  • Return to starting position
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions
  • Switch legs and repeat

Should You Do Nerve Gliding Exercises?

Each of these exercises has high potential to be a beneficial and efficient way to handle your sciatica-related troubles. That being said if you experience any symptoms of sciatica you should definitely do nerve gliding exercises.

nerve gliding exercises treat sciatica
Nerve gliding exercises will help relieve pain

The particular exercises you choose and how many you do will depend on the seriousness of your symptoms.

It is important to approach exercises that involve gliding the nerves with caution. This means starting with short periods at first and ensuring that you execute them slowly and safely. Be sure to monitor the severity of your symptoms and how you progress to determine the effectiveness of what you have been doing. 

Always have a conversation with your physiotherapist or a medical professional about your sciatica before you consider incorporating nerve gliding exercises to help treat your symptoms.

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