Knee & Ankle Lower back By Sophie Xie / September 24, 2016 How to do Sciatic nerve flossing exercise for sciatica pain relief Have you flossed your nerves lately? And now you are looking horrified. Quick Navigation How does nerve gliding work?Nerve gliding/flossing basicsThe Sciatic Nerve Gliding/Flossing ExerciseWho is this for? In fact, nerve gliding exercises, or nerve flossing exercises, are some of the most gentle exercises. These exercises target mobility of the nerve tissues to treat nerve pain conditions like the "Sciatica".How does nerve gliding work?The truth is that our body tissues are constantly moving, stretching, gliding inside of our body as we move about every day. Nerve tissues, in particular, do not like to be stretched. Due to their lack of elasticity, nerves commonly glides up and down in our body in its entire length (from head to toe). They like it that way.When we have injuries and pains that irritate the surrounding nerve tissues, the inflammatory process and scar tissues may result in adhesion of local nerve segments. When nerves cannot move freely up and down in our body, they are likely to be tucked up, damaged, irritated and painful. After all, the infamous "Sciatica" pain is caused by unhappy nerves. In some cases, helping the nerves to regain mobility and normal gliding will calm them down significantly. Here's some proof that I am not crazy. A study in 2015 measured the amount of sciatic nerve movement during these nerve gliding exercises using high-resolution ultrasound imagine. They found that the gliding technique with neck and knee movements result in the largest magnitude of sciatic nerve mobility (mean 17.0 ± 5.2 mm). That's around 2/3 of an inch, and that's cool. Nerve gliding/flossing basicsPull-n-releaseWhen you first starting to do nerve gliding/flossing exercises, you need a little coordination and imagination.Imagine yourself as a puppet, and the sciatic nerve is a large rope connection the back of your head and the heel of your toe. Since the rope is not elastic, pulling one end will result in giving in on the opposite end.Feeling something is too muchUnlike normal exercise where you may feel muscle burning or fatigue, you should have no increase in symptom when you glide your sciatic nerve. Some people may have some baseline, or resting, sciatica symptoms. However, if you experience increasing in leg pain, tingling, or numbness, you should tune down the magnitude of the neck and knee movement. If you are moving through the exercising and feeling silly because you don't feel any different, you are doing it right!The Sciatic Nerve Gliding/Flossing Exercise Start by sitting on a high surface so that your feet are hanging (my personal preference). If you have no high surface to sit on nearby, a regular chair will do as well (like in the picture).Relax your legs, slouch your back, and lower your chin/head by looking down.Slowly, smoothly and gently stragithen your sciatica side knee and lift your head up (looking forward) at the same time. Then return to starting position with the same gentle manner.Repeat movement for 1 min on each leg, 3-5 times a day, for 1-2 weeks.Who is this for?The sciatic nerve glide/flossing exercise is great for those experiencing an acute flare up sciatica pain such as herniated disc, piriformis syndrome, or spinal stenosis. [Recommended reading: "Sciatica" are not all the same! Which type of "sciatica" pain do you have?]Nerve gliding/flossing exercises are less effective for those experiencing persistent chronic sciatica symptoms from per experience. There might still be some benefits, just not very obvious.Most benefits and symptom relief from nerve gliding/flossing exercises will plateau after the first week or two. If you do not feel better in any sense after two weeks of this gentle treatment, you should consider move on to some core strengthening exercises. Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.Recommended readings:What's the cause of sudden stabbing pain in my lower backLooking for stretches for lower back pain? Hip flexor stretch is the place to startBest 4 gentle yet effective core exercises for lower back painWhy your chronic lower back pain has nothing to do with a herniating discLike what you just read? Share this post via our social media buttons! They are everywhere on this page!Want to know more about treating your own pain with techniques from a physical therapist? Please subscribe to our newsletter!