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Flossing at the Chiropractor

Yep, you read that right. We floss in our office. Not the minty kind of floss you may be thinking about. We're talking about nerve flossing here - a series of movements used to minimize nerve pain in any part of the body!

Head model with divisions of brain function

It's All Connected

Before we dive too deep into what nerve flossing is or how it can help, it's important to understand the pathway of our nerves. Our brain is our control center. It's the hub where all information is processed and new signals are sent out. It receives and sends information via the spinal cord which is housed in a tunnel created by our vertebrae. At each individual vertebra, nerves branch off of the spinal cord and act as extensions of the nerve tissue. These nerves go into just about every part of our body including the arms, hands, torso, hips, legs, and feet. They continue to branch out farther and farther so as to create a web of nerves across the body.

How in the World Do Nerves Get Injured?

Nerves are dynamic, meaning they are subject to small amounts of stretch with everyday movement. For example, the ulnar nerve in the inner side of your arm is fairly flexible and can stretch up to 5mm when you bend your elbow. However, problems arise when a nerve is stretched or compressed for a sustained period of time. Prolonged compression or stretching deprives the nerve of its oxygen supply and eventually results in nerve injury. When a nerve is injured, it becomes inflamed both at the point of injury as well as farther up and down its pathway. In other words, you may experience an inflamed nerve in your ankle, but as a result, the nerve may swell within your leg as well. Where swelling is present, the body places scar tissue over and around the nerve causing it to anchor to the surrounding muscles and structures. Though scar tissue often plays a protective role, it can prevent the nerve from stretching and moving and ultimately result in numbness, tingling, or pain.

Nerve Flossing to the Rescue!

Think of the nerves in your body as a rope inside of a hose. In the case of nerve injury, the rope is secured in place by some weak Elmer's glue. The best way to unstick the rope is by pulling it back and forth from either end. When it comes to nerve flossing, we achieve the same effect by leading you through movements that will pull one side of the nerve taut while relaxing the other. Keep in mind that all nerves connect back to your neck and brain, so most nerve floss movements require both movement at the neck as well as movement of an arm or leg.

Woman stretching hamstring

How Can Nerve Flossing Help Me?
  • Decreased pain

  • Increased range of motion

  • Increased elasticity of the nerve

  • Reduction of inflammation

  • Increased space around the nerve providing an opportunity to heal

Think your pain may be stemming from an injured nerve? Visit us at Washington Park Chiropractic so we can figure out what's going on and how we can best help! For additional information on nerve flossing, check out the ulnar, median, radial, and sciatic nerve flossing videos on our YouTube channel.

Andrew Kakishita is a chiropractic student of Palmer College of Chiropractic - Davenport. He is completing his graduate education by interning at Washington Park Chiropractic and learning as much as possible from the pros.


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