What is Neuro Tension?
Oftentimes, the tissue that surrounds a nerve can begin to compress and even adhere to the nerve and limit it’s ability to access the nutrients that are so important to it’s function. When that happens, it limits the ability of that nerve to appropriately intervate and send impulses to the areas of the body that it is designed to support.
How does it occur?
Some athletes are just simply wired a bit tighter than others with regards to their nervous system. Meaning, their nervous system is overactive in general and tends to lock down their neuromuscular system, appearing as though they have very little mobility overall. Those athletes are likely to experience more neuro tension (and oftentimes more chronic injuries) because they are so tight and bound up in general. But, keep in mind that because these athletes are very sensitive with their nervous system, they are very likely the better athletes on your team. So, you have to take the good with the bad.
Pain causes the nervous system to react in very unpredictable ways. Thus, any kind of pain can contribute to neuro tension. To make things worse, oftentimes injury leads to times of immobilization around a joint. When a joint is immobilized with a cast or splint, we see large amounts of soft tissue changes around the injury; adhesions, trigger points, scar tissue, etc will all set in if not treated.
Let’s face it, even our most active athletes in today’s world don’t fit the traditional definition for being active that has stood for thousands of years. The way we define activity for an athlete is whether or not your athletes have been out all day hunting and foraging for food. If they aren’t doing that every day, then they are inactive by definition. And inactivity will certainly lead to tension in the system, soft tissue restrictions and poor movement patterns.
How does neuro tension present?
Most athletes don’t ever know when they have a lot of neuro tension because they have never knowingly put themselves in a position where a nerve is under tension. What they know is that they have chronic pain or discomfort and at times when they stretch as part of their daily routine, they feel a “zing” instead of stretch. Or, they feel a stretch in an area that they aren’t trying to stretch.
The most common illustration of this is when we see our athletes stretch their hamstrings. Even though they are in a position to stretch their hamstrings, many of them complain that they feel it a lot more in their calf. Or, they may feel it in their hamstring, but it isn’t the good, comfortable muscular stretch feeling that they are looking for. It is much more of a burning, zing sensation that they can’t seem to get over.
The hamstring example is the most common, but we see that neuro tension surrounding the shoulder has the greatest negative impact on our athletes and their chronic pain and performance. Unfortunately, releasing the shoulder neuro tension is more difficult than our hamstring example and takes a clinician to perform the manual techniques.
The Solution: Nerve Glides
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