Neural Flossing

*originally published on March 2, 2011

​More than a few times I’ve heard folks in the gym complain of pinches, twinges, or numbness. These could be symptoms of nerve compression or adhesion. The nervous system is a continuous organ that runs throughout the entire body and is commonly injured by compression, tension, and friction, or chafing. When nerve tissue itself is injured, it often causes this kind of tingly, numb feeling.

It doesn’t take much pressure to drain the blood from a nerve (causing some numbness). A normal nerve will rebound quickly as blood returns, but prolonged and/or repeated anoxia can lead to edema and fibrosis (kind of like a scar). Neural flossing techniques are designed to stretch and release adhesions between nerve sheaths and adjacent structures (muscles, etc).

We’ve incorporated a little bit of neural gliding in warm ups from time to time (remember this one? Both arms stretched out to the either side at shoulder height, one palm up and one palm down, turn to look to the palm facing down, then switch). Here are a few more for you to play around with if you’re so inclined. Remember that nerves are kind of fragile, don’t hang out all day in a position that puts tension on your nerves. Hold it for a 10 seconds or so and then back off, and move slowly.

These three nerves originate at the neck and end in the hand-the median, radial and ulnar nerve. Nerve gliding exercises may produce mild discomfort but if you get a strong zing, then back off. Both arms need to be exercised. Hold each position for about 10 seconds.

  1. The median nerve glide. This is done by extending one arm straight out in front of you, elbow facing the floor, palm up.  Then bend your wrist back so your fingers point towards the floor and stretch the thumb back with the other hand. Bend your neck and drop your ear down the the shoulder on the opposite side of the stretched arm.
  2. The radial nerve glide.  Start with your arm down at your side, extend the wrist (as if you’re describing how tall a dog is), and drop the shoulder while bending the neck in the opposite direction of the stretched arm.
  3. The ulnar nerve. The arm is stretched out to the side at about shoulder height with the thumb toward the ceiling. Again the neck is bent in the opposite direction. The same position is assumed with the palm toward the ceiling.

Have fun flossing…next week I’ll give you some lower body ones.

By Emily on Wednesday, July, 25, 2012