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Nerve Glide Exercise for Legs

By Linda Donahue

Gliding is a chiropractic exercise intended to stretch the nerves and tendons. There are nerve glide and tendon glide exercises. These types of exercises are not intended for lengthy workouts. Rather, the ideal session is short, a duration of minutes, and is performed more frequently, as often as hourly in some instances. The purpose of these exercises is not to strengthen, as they are not working muscles, but are instead to stretch and encourage the nerves and tendons to glide properly and reduce pain.

Most Commonly Practiced Nerve Gliding

Most commonly, nerve gliding is practiced to relieve three major nerves from pain that can be related to tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome. It is most often practiced on the median, ulnar and radial nerves. However, the same principles employed for relieving tight nerves in the arms can be applied to the legs as well. For the arms, common gliding (or sliding) stretches involve holding out the arm and pulling against the thumb to stretch it. Other gliding exercises pull against the wrist. These motions are geared to increase your mobility and flexibility while gently stretching the nerves.

Nerve Gliding for the Legs

Just as you can stretch your arms while flexing the thumbs, you can do the same sort of exercises for your legs, involving the toes. Simply lie on your back and bend the ankles deeply, arching and pulling the toes upward toward your body. Then flex them the other direction, pointing them as flat as you can. This will pull on your calf and hamstring. For another stretch while lying on your back, raise one leg as high as you can with the knee straight. Then grip behind the knee with both hands and bend the knee until your lower leg is parallel to the floor. Hold the stretch for a few counts before releasing. If you are limber enough in your upper body, while sitting on the floor (with your legs straight) bend over and grab your toes then pull on your toes for the stretch, just as you would pull on your thumb. You can also do nerve gliding exercises while standing. Back up against a wall and press your legs as flat against the wall as you can, flattening the knee. While holding onto the back of a chair, extend one leg out behind you. While it is in the air, flex your ankle to stretch out the calf.

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