Nerve Stretches

You have heard about people stretching their muscles when the muscles are tight, but have you heard about nerve stretching?

What exactly is nerve stretching? Why do we need to stretch our nerves?How do we stretch our nerves?

Nerve stretches do not really ’stretch’ the nerves, but they help to improve the movement of the nerves through the joints and muscles by improving their ability to slide and glide. Like our muscles, the nerves in our bodies can also become tight. It can be due to staying in a position for too long, or due to tightening of muscles around the nerves.

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Nerve stretches can reduce the tightness in the nerves and also help relieve pain that is associated with tight nerves. There are some simple to do nerve stretches that you can perform on your own for the nerves in your arm. They are as follows:

Median Nerve Stretch

Median nerve is the nerve that runs along the palmer side of our wrist and can sometimes be compressed in the wrist resulting in a condition called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Persons with CTS normally complain of tingling or numbness in the thumb and fingers, in particular the index and middle fingers.

To stretch the median nerve, place open palm on wall with finger tips pointing away from trunk and parallel to the floor. Rotate trunk away from wall keeping the elbow straight and feel the stretch in arm and forearm. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Radial Nerve Stretch

Those with radial nerve tightness may experience numbness, pins and needles or pain on the upper arm, elbow and outside half of the thumb.

To stretch out the radial nerve, clasp hands palm to palm, keeping the arms facing inwards with elbows straight, and lifting the hands overhead. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Ulnar Nerve

The ulnar nerve is also commonly known as the “funny bone” nerve. Prolonged gaming can sometimes stress the ulnar nerve and cause pain at the wrist.

To stretch the nerve, place thumb and index finger together to form a circle while keeping the other fingers straight. Place your straight fingers, palm up, around your chin and bring your “circle” up to your eyes to form a mask. Return to starting position and repeat.

Sciatic Nerve Stretch

Sitting for long periods can sometimes cause the sciatic nerve to tighten up. The nerve runs from the lower back down the leg to the foot and a person with tight sciatic nerve can experience numbness, pain or pins and needles anywhere along the length of the sciatic nerve.

To stretch the nerve, lie on your back facing up, hug one knee to the chest by holding the thigh under the knee. Straighten the knee to about 90-100 degrees and lift the lower leg towards the ceiling. Bend your ankle and point up and down for 10 times before returning to the start position.


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Creative Commons LicenseThis work by Core Concepts - Musculoskeletal Health Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Singapore License. This article was contributed by Singapore's Largest Physiotherapy Group - Core Concepts. In the spirit of promoting health education, you may copy, distribute and transmit the work under the conditions specified by the license. For articles re-printed with permission, copyright remains with the original copyright holder (author or publisher). Core Concepts's Creative Commons License does not apply in such cases.


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  • Painless

    I have had shoulder pain for the past two years. Regular sessions of chiropractic, massage and acupuncture have not helped to alleviate the pain. I came across your nerve stretches today and they have helped tremendously. Thank you.

  • A Gangly Mess

    I woke up about a week ago with my right arm completely numb and going to the doctor did not help at all – he was even hinting i could have multiple sclerosis. I know it was just a pinched nerve from sleeping funny. My sister suggested I should just try stretching it out because she had the same problem once. After just a little bit of these stretches I’ve already recovered so much feeling in my hand after having no progress the entire week. I can even type and write almost normally again. Thank you so much!!!!