Nerve Stretching – What and Why we need it

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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 and how do we need to stretch our nerves?

Nerve stretches do not really ’stretch’ the nerves. However, they help to improve their movement 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 the tightening of muscles around the nerves.

Nerve Stretches

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

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, in particular the index and middle fingers.

To stretch the median nerve, place the open palm on the wall with fingertips pointing away from the trunk and parallel to the floor. Rotate the trunk away from the wall, keeping the elbow straight and feel the stretch in the 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 in the wrist.

To stretch it, place your 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 the 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 it, 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.

Experiencing elbow or wrist pain? Find out more about physiotherapy for elbow or wrist pain relief and how Core Concepts physiotherapist can help resolve pain.