Amy Price PhD
Nerve Glides can help release a lot of the pain that comes from trauma and even arthritis. A lot of the pain may be originating from the nerves in a cascading effect which inflames surrounding soft tissue. The peripheral nerves in your arms and legs are mobile structures that can stretch when elongated. Injury and scar tissues can trap them but you can do special stretches called nerve glides to release these areas.
To see how your nerves move try this. Take your finger and touch your nose. Then bring your hand all the way out to your side and stretch it out as far as it will go. Next tilt your head away from your outstretched hand (if it’s your left hand, bend your head right). You will likely notice a pulling sensation in your hand and arm with your head bent. Now try to bring the head towards the hand, does it go away? This is a demonstration of nerve tension.
There is no muscle that goes all the way from your neck to the hand. Since bending your head away from the hand tightens the nerves that go from your neck to your hand, you feel pulling. If you feel pain, numbness and tingling, this is a problem you should tell your doctor about. Nerve glides can be used in multiple body areas not just the hand and neck. Nerve pain is referred to other body areas and you can get an idea of the patterns by looking at a dermatome map
Another example is that the nerve when inflamed looks like a thick lumpy rubberband, but as you stretch and glide the nerves, they thin out making an easier passage through the channels they move theough. If you stretch a rubber band it “thins” out.
The nerves in your body have a normal range of motion like the joints. Nerve glides are stretches that help get back that normal movement. Nerve glides must be done gently and should never increase pain. The goal is to free the area up and not to inflame it so in this case pain is not gain. Technique is critical. It is best to have an occupational therapist that specializes in neural education who can show you how to do these nerve glides. They will give you a sheet with the instructions on how to do these right and you can watch as you perform the nerve glides in the mirror to make sure your form is correct. Nerve glides are also known as nerve flossing or nerve stretching.