There are numerous things that cause sciatica or sciatic like pain. Last week we looked at disc herniations or disc bulges putting pressure on the nerve roots and causing sciatica. The focus of this article will be on adhesions along the sciatic nerve that cause sciatica and how nerve flossing can help.
I’ve always pictured nerves and their protective sheath like electrical wire and conduit. Nerves like electrical wires are housed in a protective covering. This allows the nerve or wire to move without damage to the nerve itself. It also protects it from outside objects causing any damage. Similar to the conduit pipe being kinked, the neural covering can become damaged itself and therefore can cause interference with the nerve inside.
Often when damage is caused to the protective coating, or in tissues nearby, the body temporarily lays down a bunch of scar tissue. This is done to stabilize the injured area long enough for the body to repair the area. The idea is that as the pain decreases, people should start moving more. By moving more it places a stretch on this scar tissue and the body eventually breaks down that scar tissue.
What happens in some cases of sciatica, is people avoid that pulling feeling and that scar tissue never gets remodeled. The adhesion to the nerve becomes more permanent. The problem with this adhesion, is all the nerves in our body are connected. The nerves have to be able to slide through the body as we bend forward or look down to read a text message or even stretch our hamstrings. When the nerves are free and clear there is no problem. When there is a neural adhesion, the sciatic nerve (in this case) gets very upset when it needs to move and is prevented from doing so.
The good news it the body is very dynamic and adaptable. So having that adhesion is not the end of the world. The adhesion simply needs a controlled stretch to be placed on it. Yes, I did previously say a stretch on the nerve will cause sciatic pain. And yes, I am saying you need to intentionally do this, repeatedly, in order to get better. Just as the stretch is used to remodel the initial injury, we can remodel the lasting adhesion. In a controlled repetitive manner we can encourage the body to breakdown and remodel that adhesion through nerve flossing. It just takes long than it would in the beginning, but is doable.
Just like floss slides between your teeth, we teach people how to get the nerve to slide through the tissues on the body with nerve flossing. For sciatic nerve flossing, sit on the edge of your seat, bend your head down and lean forward. Now pull the top of your foot toward your shin and keep it cocked. At this point, with your foot cocked and head and torso bent forward, straighten your knee as much as you can. As you do this, you will quickly feel tension build through your leg. Once you can’t go any farther, keep your leg there as you look up and lean back. This will pull the sciatica nerve through all the tissues in your leg and relieve the tension. Repeat this 15 times every 2 hours.
This will, and should, reproduce your sciatic pain as you are performing the exercise. The pain might even linger a bit after the exercise. This is all fine as long as the pain doesn’t last for hours after performing the exercise. If you feel this isn’t working properly or your pain is worsening schedule with us sooner rather than later.