This little blog was created for my dad, who is currently traveling through Europe, and reached out for some help with pain he was experiencing in his leg as a result of compression around his SI joint.
I sent him a couple of the videos I have on hand for decompressing the lumbar spine and pelvis, but soon found myself Facetiming with him in café in Amsterdam, describing how nerves run through the body and a technique called “Nerve Flossing” which is a very effective way to diminish pain. It’s a simple concept. I shot a video for him, then realized this could be a helpful blog post topic, and so here we are.
Nerves connect your brain to your body and vice versa. They start up in your brain and run through your spinal cord, exiting in between various vertebrae in a logical relationship to your physiology. For example, the nerves that run through your arms come out of your lower cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae, and the ones that run down your legs are coming off of the lower lumbar and the pelvis. Nerves are sensitive little beings, and so as they travel through your ever bending spine, they are encased by a protective sac called the “ Dura”, which also protects the brain. This creates an unbroken connection from the bottom of your spine all the way to the top of your head, which allows pain free movement as we put our bodies through their daily moves.
When postural strain becomes too severe, or the spinal cord is damaged, then nerves can become entrapped by the surrounding tissues, and pain can result, radiating out from it’s source, and possibly affecting the entire nerve line. Because of that pain, muscles contract to protect the area from any more damage, but the resulting contraction can also increase tension on the nerve itself. This is where nerve flossing comes in.
By putting one end of it under mild tension then moving the other end through flexion and extension, the entire nerve line can be lengthened, and muscles that have clamped down around the pain can slowly move back to their normal state. This can ease radiating nerve pain substantially.
My dad had a hard time picturing all of this through FaceTime Audio ( don’t ask me why video wasn’t working, I’m sure it would have been more clear had he seen me talking with my hands ) so I provided him with the mental image of a tightrope. Even if you are stepping only on one side of it, the entire rope feels it, and the reverb is felt all the way to the other side.
So, like I said, I made him a video and here it is. This is an example of how to nerve floss for leg pain. Typically one only explores flexion and extension ( nodding or tapping) but I threw in a little neck rotation as well because he has tight shoulders ( and don’t we all?) and that feels good for them. Each of these exercises can stand alone, and all of them should be done slowly, at least 10-15 times, then rest, and do another set. If you feel like challenging your co-ordination, you can try doing them all together - nodding your head in synchronicity with your foot.
Please remember, I don’t live in your body, YOU do. Please be mindful when you practice any form of physical activity and consult a physician when necessary.