Nerve flossing is done to stretch and release the sciatic nerve when it becomes compressed, entrapped or develops surrounding scar tissue, presenting as a condition known as sciatica. Nerve flossing exercises can be done at home, but if your condition is extreme or persistent, you should discuss treatment with your doctor before trying any do it yourself remedies.
The sciatic nerves exit from your spine, and travel down the back and sides of your legs. In sciatica, pain is felt around the lower back, buttocks, and along the nerve distribution down either one, or both legs.
The idea behind nerve flossing is to release the sciatic nerve by stretching the tissues surrounding it and breaking down any build-up of fibrotic scar tissue, which prevents the nerve from gliding smoothly with leg movement. Flossing is required to break down the scar tissue — just as flossing your teeth chips away at plaque buildup.
Seated Sciatic Nerve Flossing Exercise
Seated, in a comfortable, but supportive chair, with your back straight and your shoulders down and relaxed. Start with your knees bent at 90 degrees and both feet flat on the floor then slowly straighten the injured leg. Only go as far as you can without causing pain; however, it’s OK to feel a gentle tugging down the back of your leg. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position and complete 15 leg raises up to five times a day. As your symptoms ease, raise your leg then try pointing and flexing your foot — so your toes point up to the ceiling — to increase the stretch. You can try this exercise with the variation of being seated on the ground, elevating the injured leg and repeatedly flexing and pointing the foot, if you find this position more comfortable
Sciatic Nerve Flossing With Elevated Leg
You will need to lie flat on your back with your injured leg elevated. Keep the elevated leg straight, whilst slowly pointing and flexing the foot, making sure your buttocks stay on the floor as you do so. The elevated leg should not be so high that it causes pain; nor should you feel any pain during foot flexion. Repeat as many times as you can and swap sides if you experience symptoms in both legs. You can bend the knee of your opposite leg for additional comfort.
A compressed sciatic nerve is sensitive and should not be forced or aggravated. So, if you feel any pain while doing these exercises — or afterward — you should reduce the elevation of the leg or bend it slightly to ease the tension. Always avoid stretching your leg through the pain as this will further aggravate the injured nerve. If your pain persists or worsens, you should see a doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.