Nerve flossing targets conditions that involve irritation of the nerves, such as sciatica and piriformis syndrome. Nerve flossing exercises offer relief by gently mobilizing compressed or irritated nerves.
Nerve flossing may help relieve pain from these conditions and increase range of motion.
Keep reading to learn more about how nerve flossing works, as well as some simple exercises people can try at home to help treat symptoms of sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
Nerve flossing is a set of exercises that gently mobilize the nerves. Doctors may also refer to nerve flossing as nerve, or neural, gliding. The exercises are simple and often require no equipment, so people can easily do them at home.
People may use nerve flossing alongside other treatment methods to help relieve symptoms of conditions such as sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
There is a variety of nerve flossing exercises that people can do to target different nerves in the body. Each exercise will vary depending on the condition people are trying to treat.
Nerve flossing works by mobilizing the nerves and may help relieve painful symptoms caused by irritated or compressed nerves.
Nerve flossing exercises can also help to build up general strength and flexibility.
- increase range of motion
- reduce damage to nerves
- relieve pain
People may want to use nerve flossing as a natural remedy for nerve pain, or alongside medication and other treatment options.
Nerve flossing for sciatica
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down the legs to the toes. Irritation of the sciatic nerve can cause sciatica. Sciatica can cause pain in the lower back, legs, calves, and feet.
Research has found nerve flossing may help reduce sciatic pain and improve range of motion in the hips.
Nerve flossing for piriformis syndrome
The piriformis muscle is a small muscle that joins the bottom of the spine to the upper leg. The muscle is very close to the sciatic nerve. This means any compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can cause piriformis syndrome.
Piriformis syndrome can cause pain in the buttocks, hips, and hamstrings. People may find it painful to sit down or walk up steps.
Nerve flossing may help relieve painful symptoms of piriformis syndrome by increasing range of motion and flexibility.
Here are a few exercises people can try at home for sciatica.
Nerve flossing exercise for sciatica
- Lie on the floor with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart.
- Rest the head on a flat cushion or small book.
- Relax the upper body and tuck the chin in slightly.
- Place both hands behind the left knee and pull it in toward the chest.
- Slowly straighten the knee until feeling a stretch.
- Hold for 5 seconds while breathing slowly and deeply.
- Slowly bend the knee back into the chest and then lower the foot back to the starting position.
- Repeat with the right leg and do 5 times for each leg.
- Keep the upper body relaxed throughout, and make sure the stretch feels comfortable.
- People can also try lifting both knees and holding them in toward the chest.
Seated sciatic nerve floss
- Sit upright in a chair, with knees hip-width apart, feet flat on the floor and facing forwards.
- Extend the right leg, with the foot flexed toward the body.
- Extend the neck up and back to look up at the ceiling.
- Lower both the neck and leg down gently, so the chin tucks into the chest, and the leg goes slightly back past 90 degrees.
- Extend and lower the neck at the same time as extending and lowering the leg.
- Switch legs and repeat exercise 10 times for the left leg.
- Do 10 repetitions on both legs 2–3 times each day.
Other exercises that may help sciatica
- Lie down with the stomach on the floor and the legs outstretched.
- Bend the elbows by the sides, with the forearms flat on the floor facing forward.
- Keep the neck straight and look at the floor throughout the exercise
- Push into the floor with the hands while arching the back, so that you feel a slight stretch of the stomach muscles.
- Keep the hips on the floor.
- Hold this position for 5–10 seconds while breathing slowly and deeply.
- Gently lower back down into the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise up 8–10 times.
- Take care not to bend the neck back at any point.
Here are a few example exercises people can try at home for piriformis syndrome.
Nerve flossing exercises for piriformis syndrome
- Lie flat on the back with both legs extended.
- Bend the left leg and hold the left knee and foot.
- Bring the left leg across the right side of the body toward the right shoulder and hold for 5 seconds
- Gently lower to the floor and repeat the exercise with the right leg.
- Repeat 5 times on each side.
- Do this exercise 2–3 times per day.
Other exercises that may help piriformis syndrome
- Sit upright in a chair, with knees hip-width apart, feet flat on the floor, and facing forward.
- Lift the left leg and rest the ankle on the right knee.
- Gently hold the left knee with the left hand and the right ankle with the right hand to keep the leg in place.
- Engage the core and slowly lean forward with the upper body, keeping the back straight
- Hold for 30 seconds, then return to an upright seated position.
- Repeat the exercise with the opposite leg.
None of the above exercises should cause any pain. Anyone who experiences severe pain should stop the exercises and consult their doctor. People can also see their doctor if their symptoms do not improve within a few weeks.
Anyone worried about the safety of thee exercises should check with a doctor or physical therapist before attempting them.
Nerve flossing consists of simple exercises that people can do at home.
Nerve flossing gently mobilizes the nerves to help reduce painful symptoms and increase range of motion.
People may find nerve flossing is an effective treatment for conditions such as sciatica and piriformis syndrome, alongside any other treatment their doctor suggests.
If people are unsure whether nerve flossing will be the right option for them, they should consult a doctor. If people experience any severe pain during nerve flossing exercises, they should stop immediately and consult a doctor.