Glides & Tensioners
The two remaining methods are meant to treat sciatic nerves that demonstrate excessive tension and heightened sensitivity. Because the sciatic nerve is already inflamed, the purpose of these maneuvers is to improve the motion of the nerve through surrounding tissues and desensitize it to stretching1. Begin with the gentler “nerve glide” and progress to the more intense “tensioner,” as tolerated. Start off slow and gently, remembering that the nerve is irritated. If you proceed too aggressively, you may increase the irritation. Should this happen (pain level increases), stop what you are doing and apply ice, wrapped in paper towel or over a t-shirt, to the lower back for 20 minutes.
**These activities are meant to treat chronic sciatic pain. If you are experiencing a flare-up or symptoms that are worse than your normal level of pain/discomfort, you should avoid glides and tensioners. Stick to the stretches from Home Care for Sciatica I, apply ice to the lower back repeatedly, and consult our office or your health care professional.
- Move slowly and carefully, this gives you time to respond if the movements aggravate
- If any maneuver causes pain, stop the activity and discuss with your health care provider
Sciatic Nerve Glide
To perform the nerve glide movements, sit on a stool, the edge of a chair, or low table. Simultaneously slowly lift the involved leg off the floor and lean the torso backward. Next, cautiously lean forward while bending the involved leg back (ultimately bringing the leg with pain behind the uninvolved leg). Maintain your low back curvature when bending forward. You should not feel pain or nerve tension, in the leg or spine, during this glide activity. Repeat this series of movements 10 times, several times.
Sciatic Nerve Tensioner
Start by lying on your back as shown. Bend the knee on the affected side and raise the thigh to a vertical position (knee should be bent 90 degrees). Tensioning begins by slowly extending the involved leg (straightening the lower leg). Once you begin to feel slight tension on the nerve, immediately let the leg lower to the starting position. The goal with this nerve tensioning technique is to approach tension/pain, then back away and repeat, without causing added discomfort. Repeat the tensioning 10 up to times and repeat several times per day. Performing this stretch is meant to reduce the nerve’s sensitivity to being stretched.
If these activities are not helping to control your sciatic pain, consider a consultation with Dr. Leibman at Matthews Chiropractic Center. Many patients gain relief from sciatic pain with the help of chiropractic manipulation and other conservative therapies.
- Marc Heller, DC. “Correcting Sciatic Nerve Tension, McKenzie, Decompression and Nerve Glide/Tensioning.” Dynamic Chiropractic. EIC. Ramon McLeod & Peter Crownfield, EE. 2008. MPA Media. 6 May 2008. <http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=53203>. [↩]