Have you been remembering to floss? No I don't mean your teeth or the dance that I am sure is not "cool" anymore. I'm talking about your nerves!
The human body is a largely complex piece of machinery with lots of little things that help keep the engine running - so to speak. In this regard I think a bicycle analogy will be the easiest to understand. Your body is the bicycle and your nerves are the chains. If your nerves are "stuck" or "not maintained" you may still be able to use the bike, though likely at a large convenience to yourself. To help maintain the functionality of your bicycle - you need to keep up maintenance.
Nerve Flossing is exactly that. Maintenance on your nerves to help keep up their flexibility & functionality.
In the world of gymnastics and dance, flexibility plays a large roll. A lot of the time when stretching, you may feel a discomfort or pain that stops you from being able to stretch any further. This is a good indicator that your body is telling you that it has reached its limit. However we can sometimes misunderstand this message. For example: When you are stretching your Pike you may feel a "pull" or tension in the back of your thighs/bottom. The first thing that usually pops into peoples minds is - "My Hamstrings are too tight!"
However this may not be the case at all. It might be your sciatic nerve instead!
Your Sciatic Nerve is a large nerve that starts in your lower back and runs directly down to your feet. The Sciatic Nerve is incredibly important for the body! Thankfully there are ways to tell the difference between a muscle hindering your flexibility progression or a nerve getting in the way.
How to Test it:
When stretching out in a Pike, if you are able to stretch significantly further with your toes pointed as apposed to flexed - there is a good chance your sciatic nerve might be what is stopping you!
So how can we help our nerves? And what does it have to do with flossing? Simply put, you use gliding movements of a limb to stretch one end the nerve while relaxing the opposite end. In a series of repetitive gliding movements, the nerves will respond a lot better than that of a "tradition" static stretch.
How to Floss safely:
While Flossing can be incredibly beneficial... you must like any other stretch be careful.
1. Tissue Warm Up - Step one is crucial if you wish to get the most out of a nerve floss. The easiest/best ways to do this is via gentle to moderate manipulation of the surrounding muscle fibers. This can be achieved through a number of exercises with a foam roller, peanut, lacrosse ball or tennis ball. The pressure of your body weight and the shape of the object combined, is what will give you a deeper and more focused release.
2. Nerve Flossing - Now comes the time for flossing/gliding! The important part to remember that with flossing, you are not supposed to feel a deep stretch. Instead you should be focusing on holding resistance at the full extension of a stretch. It is the repetition of the same movement that will gently release the "stuck" nerve. There are NUMEROUS ways to floss and it is well worth your time to do some research of your own to find the best exercises for you.
3. Active Flexibility - Now comes the time to test those nerves! You have just successfully prepared your nerves at their full range of motion. Now it's time to see if they can use this freshly gained functionality. Now is not the time to hold any static shapes. It's best to use your new range of reach/flexibility through dynamic movements.
4. Passive Stretches - If passive or static stretches are apart of your routine, now is the time to use them. After following all the other steps you should notice a little extra flexibility in your stretches. Remember to take it easy! Your muscles will be more relaxed than usual, so they are prone to being over stretched if you aren't careful.
Take note of your before & after stretches. Have you noticed any improvements? Take some photos of your stretches so you can visualize how you are progressing.
Best of luck to you all & happy flossing!
Signing off for now,