Nerves: Exercising to Improve Mobility in the Nervous System
Exercising the body will fire up your circulation, increase activity in the muscles and also improve mobility in the nervous system.
What do you mean by ‘nerves’?
The nervous system is an important link between the brain and the muscles with signals being sent between the brain to the muscles via the spinal cord and back again.
They are responsible for the sensations you feel on your skin and also the movement of muscles.
What can go wrong?
Have you ever woken up in the night with a dead or numb arm? This is caused by your nerves as well as the position of your arm. Normally when you stretch to reach out with your arms or swing your leg to kick upward, the muscles stretch but the nerves also glide and slide through the limb so they don’t get pinched between bone/muscle etc.
When you keep the arm in a position that either compresses the nerve for too long or stretches it too much or for too long, your nerve gives an early warning that it is not happy with this position.
This can lead to you experiencing altered sensation such as tingling or pins and needles, numbness, burning, shooting or stabbing pain along the length of the nerve. How far along the arm or leg you may experience these symptoms depends on how grumbly your nerve is.
For example, tingling in your fingers is not a sign your hand is injured. The issue may be from your neck or shoulder. Seek advice if your symptoms do not settle after moving the limb around to loosen it up.
So how does this relate to my workouts?
Lack of movement, particularly in the thoracic spine (middle back between the shoulder blades) can sometimes lead to reduced mobility of the neural system to the arms and a feeling of tightness.
There are certain activities where the body is forced into end range movements and you will benefit from focusing on your nerve mobility during your warm ups. An example of these are:
- Lifting weights
- High intensity workouts/crossfit,
Warming this area up and mobilising it with rotation and extension movements can alleviate tension and enable you to achieve full functional range of movement. A foam roller can get you with these.
What if I get tingling after a workout?
Try some neural stretches to the arms and/or legs to mobilise the nerves - these are a good starting point. Stretching should ease off any feelings of nerve pain. If they don’t, see a physiotherapist for an assessment.
This blog was written by Anna Clayton: Anna works at Bury Physiotherapy Clinic as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and has recently completed a MSc in Advanced Physiotherapy. She teaches regular Pilates classes including a Pink Pilates; specifically for breast cancer patients. At the clinic she offers patients acupuncture alongside other treatment techniques to help people back to normal day to day activities, sports and hobbies - she is all for functional movement! Anna enjoys keeping fit and active with regular running (the odd half or full marathon), occasional cycling and was a rower and heptathlete in her youth.