Thursday, April 25, 2013

What is Nerve Gliding?

At my most recent physical therapy appointment my PT taught me about nerve gliding. She, and my fill-in PT, have done a huge amount of different kinds of therapy to my legs, but I was pretty excited about nerve gliding. I left the appointment not feeling great, but definitely feeling better. My run later that day (my solo #runforboston) was one of my best in recent memory, my hamstring didn't hurt as much as it has the last several weeks, so this exercise certainly got my attention and I have continued doing it. I tend to try out the exercises my PT gives me to do for a few days and if I don't feel noticeably better, I stop doing them.

My PT decided to try this with me because we have done so much work on my hamstring muscles with almost zero results, so she thought, what if it isn't all about the muscle? What if it's the nerve?

So what is nerve gliding? If a nerve is stuck in the soft tissue, nerve gliding (also called nerve flossing or neural gliding), helps to release it and reduce pain. It feels like easy stretching and is something you can do at home. Now, I'm no doctor, so I wouldn't advise you try this without the advice of a trained professional. If you decide to try it on your own, it's not supposed to hurt, so stop right away if it does. 

You can do nerve gliding on different nerves in your body, but I learned the techniques specifically for the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of the leg, through the hamstring.

The nerve gliding I do for my sciatic nerve are either of these two:


Laying down. 
Note: my leg is MUCH lower when I do this, about 18" off the ground, 
when I do this one since my hamstrings are far too tight to keep my leg up this high.

Ideally I perform these exercises before and after exercise. I have done just a handful of runs since I started doing nerve gliding (and also some pelvic correction exercises, which I couldn't find videos on YouTube demonstrating) and while I don't feel HUGE amounts better, I definitely feel a little better, and simply like I can run. I still have mild discomfort and I still question how long I can continue to up my mileage, but for now, something is helping me keep it together a little better, and I think this is a piece of that glue, so to speak.

Have you ever tried nerve gliding? 

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