These 4 Nerve Stretches Could Ease Your Pain
What is Nerve Stretching?
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.
Nerves can become sensitive when the surrounding muscles become tight, causing the nerve to be unable to glide freely. This can occur when you are in a position of tension for a prolonged period of time such as when sleeping with an outstretched arm. You can also be experiencing a sudden or acute pulling motion in the arm or the neck, such as when lifting a heavy grocery bag off the ground.
What are the benefits of Nerve Stretching?
Nerve stretching helps to desensitize the nerve by improving its ability to glide with movements in the arm and neck, thus relieving the sensitive symptoms such as pain and tingles that usually accompany it.
It is important to note that for all the stretches, you should only do it to the point where you feel tension or symptoms coming on and just stop short of it. You can then slowly increase the range of the stretch when the symptoms gradually diminish.
Here are 4 nerve stretches you can do;
Median Nerve Stretch
The 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, particularly the index and middle fingers.
To stretch the median nerve, place the open palm on wall with fingertips pointing away from trunk and parallel to the floor. Rotate trunk away from the 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
Radial nerve symptoms usually occur on the lateral side of the elbow and in the triceps region. Those with radial nerve tightness may experience numbness, pins and needles or pain on the upper arm, elbow and outside half of the thumb.
Stretching out the radial nerve usually involves the flexion and extension of the wrist. Start with the elbow flexed and kept to the side with palm facing up. Slowly straighten the elbow as symptoms decrease. Once into full elbow extension, you can slowly bring the shoulder into abduction (to the side).
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. Ulnar nerve symptoms are usually most obvious at the 4th and 5th finger and occur more on the posterior or medial side of the elbow.
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, bend your knees while keeping your feet on the bed. For the affected leg, slowly lift to the point where you can feel the tension of the nerves. Bring it down just slightly and do 10 ankle pumps (moving the ankle up and down). Slowly lift your leg further until you feel the tension again and repeat.
Experiencing elbow or wrist pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for elbow or wrist pain relief and how Core Concepts can help
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