So, I think we all know what it feels like to be tight and sore in our muscles and joints after training. Anyone training hard will be familiar with the dreaded DOMs.
But do you recognise when your nerves are tight as well as your joints and muscles?
Understanding nerve tightness
Your nerves run from the base of your skull all the way through your body. Each nerve runs through a sheath (imagine a rope running through a tube sock) and sometimes this sheath can get stuck creating extra tension on your nerves. Research shows this in turn can result in tightness which may often be mistaken for muscle tightness.
Muscles are supplied by nerves. Receptors within the muscles (as well as within joints, ligaments, tendons, skin etc) feed information to the brain via nerves, about the state of affairs within the body at any given time.
Nerves, like muscles require a healthy state of balance in order to do their job well. This means plenty of freedom to move without compression, a decent blood supply, and a balance of chemical messengers.
If you have tight nerves (neural tension), you will have sharp pain with certain stretches and movements, less coordination, less strength, less flexibility and less range of motion. Put quite simply, your performance at training will be restricted.
If you think you may have tight nerves, follow these three steps and get your nerves back on track.
1. Test your nerves
The most common neural tension tests include the straight leg raise test (SLR), the seated slump test (SST), and the upper limb neural tension test (ULNTT). You will need your physio to do these tests with you, but you can try some of these easier versions at home by yourself to gauge nerve issues.
- Sit in a slouched position on the edge of a bed or chair. Flex your spine as far as comfortably possible, slumping over taking your head towards your knees. Slowly extend your knee with your ankle flexed. If you experience any widespread aching, burning, or pain this is neural tension.
- Hold your arm out parallel to the floor. Flex your wrist backwards and tilt your neck away from which ever arm you test. Any sharp pain here is similarly neural tension.
2. Fix your nerves
The first thing you should consider is seeing a physio to find out why your nerves are tight. It is highly likely that it is correlated with your posture and/or muscular imbalances in your body.
It may just be a training overload or certain repetitive movement patterns you perform day in day out which can irritate the neural system.
From there you will be given rehab for nerves which may include nerve flossing, nerve gliding and nerve mobilization. You may require some dry needling and trigger point massage before rehab to release the tight muscles around the nerves.
Try and work to fix any muscular imbalances or postural issues which are contributing to tight nerves.
3. Feed your nerves
Magnesium, magnesium, magnesium! Eat it, bathe in it or spray it on you.
Magnesium has been proven to play a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.
To get in more Magnesium try these suggestions:
- Try Bulk Nutrients ZMA before you go to bed.
- Put Epsom salts in a bath and emerge yourself for 10-20 minutes every day.
- Try the magnesium sprays which you can apply straight onto the skin.
Once your neural system is back on track, you will get 100% out of your training and will improve flexibility, strength, range of motion and much more!