Sciatic Nerve Floss

Nerve flossing may sound gruesome. It’s not. Sometimes also referred to as nerve gliding or neural gliding, it simply refers to a style of gentle exercise used to stretch out irritated nerves, thus improving range of motion through associated muscles and joints and reducing pain.

Nerve flossing often works best when augmenting, or augmented by, other treatments, though, of course, your healthcare practitioner will best be able to diagnose any conditions and offer suitable treatment plans. The underlying cause of nerve pain will quite naturally have a strong bearing on the best treatment combination to undertake.

Using Nerve Flossing for Sciatica

There are some basic guidelines to bear in mind when looking into nerve gliding:

  • Nerve flossing shouldn’t be painful. If you start to feel pain, stop.
  • While doing nerve flossing exercises, try to keep your muscles relaxed.
  • Make sure you keep breathing while doing the exercises. Try to take long, deep breaths.
  • Start slowly and only do a few repetitions at a time until your body adjusts.


The sciatic nerve is vital to lower body mobility and comfort. It’s your body’ longest nerve and, arguably, one of its most important: it directly affects your ability to control and feel your legs. It begins at your spinal cord, runs through your hips and buttocks, before branching down each leg.

Sciatica is an irritation of this nerve. Generally speaking, it will be symptomatic of an underlying injury to your sciatic nerve or an area that affects the nerve, including your vertebrae, hips and legs. 

It ranges from mild to incredibly severe. Mild cases will involve moderate discomfort through the back, buttocks and less. Severe cases will involve intense pain through these body parts, with often debilitating effects. Weakness and numbness are common, as can be a loss of a portion of motor control.

It is thought that 40 percent of people may experience some level of sciatica in their lifetimes. It is most common in the elderly, though not in any way unique to older age.

Signs of sciatica

Signs of sciatica

If ever you experience pain that runs through your lower back, down to your buttocks and into your lower limbs, it’s most likely sciatica. These are its most common symptoms, and such symptoms are most commonly caused by it.

As sciatica is a result of sciatic nerve injury or damage, those suffering with it will also often experience additional symptoms of nerve damage. These can include:

Pain that exacerbates with movement

Numbness in your legs or feet, usually felt along the pathway of your sciatic nerve. This can extend as far as a complete lack of sensation

Lower body weakness, including a loss of mobility

The feeling of pins and needles in your feet, often to quite a high degree

Incontinence- the inability to control your bladder or bowels. This is rare, but it does occur and will be a symptom of cauda equina syndrome (CES). If you ever experience this, seek immediate medical attention.

Nerve Flossing and Sciatica

Nerve flossing can be used very effectively in conjunction with traditional physiotherapy to relieve pain caused by sciatica. It can also improve range of motion through the hips and stretch out the hamstrings, further diminishing many of the symptoms of sciatica.

These four nerve flossing exercises are perfect for anybody looking to ease pain from sciatica. They are also worth performing by anybody looking to improve hip mobility for any reason.

Knee-to-chest stretch

Knee-to-chest stretch

The knee-to-chest stretch will relieve pressure from your lower back and glutes. For this, lie on your back on an exercise or a yoga mat, with a cushion under your head. From here:

  • Bend your knees, keeping your feet in line with your hips.
  • Bring one knee towards your chest, hold it with both hands and pull it in slightly close.
  • Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds before changing sides.
  • Repeat 3 times, alternating legs.

Hamstring stretch

Hamstring stretch

The hamstring stretch is a classic. Obviously, it stretches out the hamstrings. It also stretches out the calves and glutes and relieves pressure from the lower back. To perform them:

  • Standing straight, with a neutral spine, raise one leg and place it onto a bench, step or other stable surface. The higher the leg, the more intense the stretch, generally speaking.
  • Keeping your back straight, lean forwards. Try to keep your hips square and don’t let them push too far back.
  • Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds before changing sides. With each exhalation, try bringing your chest closer to your knee.
  • Repeat 3 times, alternating legs.

Mobilizing stretch

Mobilizing stretch

We all need mobility training to open out joints. Opening out the hips and glutes in this way is crucial for treating sciatica. To do so:

  • Lie on your back on an exercise or a yoga mat, with a cushion under your head.
  • Bend your knees, keeping your feet in line with your hips.
  • Keep your chin tucked into your chest throughout.
  • Bend one knee towards your chest and support the back of your bent leg with both hands on your hamstrings.
  • Slowly straighten your leg, trying not to press your lower back into the ground.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds before returning to the start.
  • For a more advanced lower back stretch, twist through the hold, bringing your right leg over to the ground as close to your left shoulder as possible, and vice versa- your foot should touch the ground in line with your hip, or thereabouts.
  • Do the same with your other leg.
  • Repeat 3 times, alternating legs.

Back extensions

Back extensions

Finally, we have back extensions. These are great for increasing lower back mobility and stretching out the fronts of your glutes and your midsection. To perform the back extension:

  • Lie on your chest on an exercise or a yoga mat, with your elbows bent and your palms flat on the floor.
  • Push your palms into the ground, coming up into a slight arch in your back.
  • Keep your hips on the floor and don’t tense your neck.
  • If this is too hard, try widening your foot position.
  • You should feel a stretch through your abs and lower back.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat 8 to 10 times.
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Mike Julom, ACE CPT

Mike is an ACE Certified PT and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. He is an avid lover of all sports. Basketball, tennis, athletics, volleyball, soccer, squash, golf, table tennis, even darts, you name it! He's a very active CrossFit athlete and has been WOD'ing for over 7 years. With such an intense fitness regime, Mike has learned to take care of his body physically, nutritionally, and spiritually. Mike founded ThisIsWhyImFit as a way to share his vast knowledge of exercises, diets, and general fitness advice.

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