Sciatic nerve flossing is done to "massage" the sciatic nerve when it becomes compressed by the muscles and bones, which is a condition known as sciatica, says the Mavenlive website. Nerve flossing exercises can be done at home, but if your condition is extreme or persistent, you should discuss treatment with your doctor before trying any do it yourself remedies.
The sciatic nerve runs from the back of your hips and down your legs. When it becomes trapped and/or inflamed around the lower back and buttocks, it causes sharp pain in the lower back that can shoot down one or both legs, says the NHS Choices website for the United Kingdom's National Health Service. The most common causes of sciatica are prolonged periods of sitting or standing, which can place pressure on the lower back; a slipped disc in your spine, which then presses against the nerve; or an injury or strain through exercise. In most cases, sciatica can be self-treated and symptoms will disappear within a few weeks; however, it is recommended that you seek medical advice if your condition persists.
About Nerve Flossing
The idea behind nerve flossing is that when the sciatic nerve becomes trapped, it grates along the muscles and bones causing scar tissue to build up along the nerve fiber, says the Mavenlive website. This creates a lot of discomfort when you move, as the scarred nerve doesn't glide smoothly, and flossing is required to break down the scar tissue -- just as flossing your teeth chips away at plaque buildup -- to improve mobility.
Seated Sciatic Nerve Flossing Exercise
Sit in a comfortable, but supportive chair, with your back straight and your shoulders down and relaxed. Start with your knees bent at 90 degrees and both feet flat on the floor then slowly straighten the injured leg, says the Dynamic Chiropractic website. Only go as far as you can without causing pain; however, it's OK to feel a gentle tugging down the back of your leg. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position and complete 15 leg raises up to five times a day. As your symptoms ease, raise your leg then try pointing and flexing your foot -- so your toes point up to the ceiling -- to increase the stretch.
Sciatic Nerve Flossing With Elevated Leg
You will need to lie flat on your back with the heel of your injured leg resting on a low table or foot rest, says the Mavenlive website. Keeping the elevated leg straight, slowly point and flex the foot, making sure your buttocks stay on the floor as you do so. The elevated leg should not be so high that it causes pain; nor should you feel any pain during the foot flexion. Repeat as many times as you can and swap sides if you experience symptoms in both legs.
A compressed sciatic nerve is sensitive and should not be forced or aggravated. So, if you feel any pain while doing these exercises -- or afterward -- you should reduce the elevation of the leg or bend it slightly to ease the tension, says the Mavenlive website. Always avoid stretching your leg through the pain as this will further aggravate the injured nerve. If your pain persists or worsens, you should see a doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.