Nerve glides are exercises that facilitate smooth and normal movement of our peripheral nerves. Nerve glides can also be known as nerve stretching or neural flossing as the movements flow in a continuous and repetitive motion. The most common nerves that could require nerve gliding rehabilitation include the radial, median and ulnar nerves, located in the arms, and the sciatic nerve, which is located in the lower back and legs. Nerve glides are normally needed when a nerve is injured by being compressed or inflamed. Injured nerves can be identified by a sharp, shooting, tingling or numbing pain. Nerve glides have been shown to provide positive therapeutic benefits when rehabilitating nerves.
Common conditions that could require nerve gliding include:
Carpal tunnel syndrome – compression of the median nerve
Identified by numbness and/or tingling in the first three fingers
Cubital tunnel syndrome – compression/stretching of the ulnar nerve
Identified by numbness and/or tingling of the last two fingers
Radial Neuropathy – compression of the radial nerve
Identified by numbness and/or tingling to the triceps area and back side of the hand
If you have experienced any of the following symptoms described, you could benefit from occupational therapy. A licensed occupational therapist can provide nerve glide exercises, and other forms of conservative treatment, to help reduce inflammation and pain and restore movement associated with nerve injuries.
Ellis, R.F. & Hing, W.A. (2008). Neural mobilization: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials with an analysis of therapeutic efficacy. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, 16(1), 8-22. Doi: 10.1179/106698108790818594
Horng, Y. S., Hsieh, S. F., Tu, Y. K., Lin, M. C., Horng, Y. S., & Wang, J. D. (2011). The comparative effectiveness of tendon and nerve gliding exercises in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome: A randomized trial. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 90, 435–442. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PHM.0b013e318214eaaf