#13 Perform Nerve Glides

Stretches for the nerves

Nerves running down the leg are normally able to move 3 or 4 centimeters in and out of the spinal cord. Similarly for the nerves in the arms down to the hands.  Scar tissue resulting from inflammation can restrict the ability of the nerves to make these normal movements1.  Physiotherapists and other medical specialists teach patients to perform nerve glides, also called nerve flossing or nerve stretching, to un-stick the nerves, helping the mobilization of the peripheral nerves at the same time.

Link in caption connects to image's original source.
Nerve Glides promote hand & feet mobility. 
Image Source: Henry VanDyke and Henry Gray en.wikipedia.org

How do nerve glides help?

Nerve glides can promote hand and feet mobility, improve signal conduction to the muscles, increase sensory perception, and provide greater range of motion4. Nerve gliding exercises may be used as part of the recovery process for certain conditions that involve any nerve tightness or tension4. Nerve glides work in a few different ways. First, they promote the mobility of the nerves by encouraging gliding within the protective sheaths. This movement helps reduce inflammation and irritation along the pathway of the nerve5. Nerve glides can also stretch the nerves gently, which can improve blood flow to the area and reduce tension5. Nerve glides are designed to promote smooth nerve movement, decrease nerve compression, and improve nerve function.

“Maintaining the health of the peripheral nervous system will pay big dividends.  Improved signal conduction to the muscles, increased sensory perception, and greater range of motion are just some of the benefits that are likely from regularly practicing nerve glides.2

In a review of 11 clinical trials the reviewer concluded that there was some positive therapeutic benefit to nerve glides3.

Where can I get started?

There are several reputable sources where you can find good nerve gliding exercises. Some of these sources include:

  • Verywell Health: This website provides information on nerve glides in physical therapy, including their uses, upper and lower extremity nerve glides, and general guidelines6.
  • Healthline: This website provides information on how nerve flossing works for sciatica and other conditions, as well as specific nerve flossing exercises to try7.
  • Healthfully: This website provides information on nerve glide exercises, including common areas for exercising and specific exercises to try8.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, including nerve gliding exercises. A physical therapist or other qualified healthcare professional can help you determine if nerve gliding exercises are appropriate for you and can provide guidance on how to perform them safely and effectively


  1. Dr. James Haxton presentation to the Calgary Neuropathy Association. November 2016.
  2. http://www.kettlebellclub.com/article-What-is-a-Nerve-Glide.htm 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2565076/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerve_glide
  5. https://www.hoshyoga.org/what-does-a-nerve-glide-do/
  6. Verywell Health: Nerve guides in physical therapy.
  7. Healthline: Nerve Flossing: How it works for Sciatica and other conditions
  8. Healthfully: Nerve Glide Exercises

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