A pinched or trapped nerve occurs when pressure is put on a nerve root as it exits from the spine.
There are many causes for a pinched nerve from structural bony changes in the canal the spine runs through, tumours, trauma and muscles that are over active like the Piriformis muscle.
Trapped nerves predominantly occurs in one of two places; the Brachial plexus which is situated in the neck and Lumbar plexus which is in the lower back with sciatica the most well known.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
How do we treat a trapped nerve?
The treatment is determined by the severity of the condition. In severe instances surgery is the best option removing the structure putting pressure on the nerve. For less severe entrapments there are a couple of things we can do, focusing on relieving the pressure on the nerve root which should relieve the symptoms.
The first strategy
Is neural flossing. Imagine the nerve as a piece of string. As we move one end of the body, i.e. lift one leg off the ground there is movement and a stretch through the nerve, if there is an adhesion somewhere in the path there might be pressure on the nerve. By ‘flossing’ it we get rid of the adhesion and the nerve can glide comfortably without any restriction.
The second strategy
Is using modalities like Muscle Energy Technique or stretching on the affected area to open up areas where there is pressure on the nerve. The reason for stretching is with the body is perceiving a possible condition that can cause harm it and will try to protect the area from moving normally, which may lead to extra pressure through the affected area.
The third strategy is exercise. We have to make sure everything works efficiently to support the area in question, also we have to find and work on the original cause of the condition and correct it so we can move pain free through all three planes of motion. Here correct core and lower back exercises for the specific condition will help with strength and stability.
As mentioned earlier in the article the sciatic nerve is one of the most well known pinched nerves, we will look at 3three of the best exercises for trapped nerve relieving the condition. It has to be noted that exercises will depend on the actual cause of the nerve irritation.
1) Piriformis stretch
Lay on your back, with legs flat. Pull the affected leg up to the chest holding the knee with the hand on the same side of the body. With the other hand take hold of the ankle or shin gently pull the ankle across the body taking care not to go into extreme range or into pain.
Hold the stretch for about 45 seconds.
2) Cat and Camel
Assume a position with hands and knees on the ground (four point stance), knees hip width and hands shoulder with apart forming a table top with your back spine. From this position start by tucking in your tail bone so that your spine raises up to the ceiling, once on top reverse the process and rotate the pelvis towards the floor.
Repeat 10 times taking care not to go to extreme range of motion or into pain. Pain is always a signal to stop in a movement.
3) Bird-Dog Exercise
The starting position is exactly the same as for the Cat and Camel exercise. We keep the spine stable through the whole moment and rely on our abdominals (core) and lower back to stabilise the spine and keep balance. From a four point stance extend your right arm and leg in a controlled manner until they are in line with the body.
Hold the position for 10 seconds then bring the arm and leg back to the starting position and repeat with the other arm and leg and repeat 10 times on each side. This exercise will strengthen your core and back muscles.
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