Santa Monica Physical Therapy

Sciatic Nerve Tension or Hamstring Stiffness?

Do you ever feel like your hamstrings just won’t loosen up no matter how much you stretch?  I’ve had so many patients that were frustrated by their lack of progress with hamstring mobility, claiming they do yoga every day and stretch religiously yet their hamstrings always feel tight!  Considering anatomy, the sciatic nerve runs down the back of the leg beneath the hamstring and courses down to the foot. When you bend forward, you’re not just stretching your hamstrings but your nerves as well!  In fact, sciatic nerve tension is often mistaken for muscle tightness in the hamstrings. I’ve found a lot of success in incorporating nerve mobility exercises to my patients’ hamstring flexibility program!

So how do you increase the mobility of the sciatic nerve? Nerves aren’t like muscles and they can get irritated by being stretched. Instead, you want to do nerve slides to improve mobility.  Think of the nerve as dental floss going from the back down, through the leg, and down to the foot. You want to “floss” the nerve through the muscles and joints instead of tugging and tensioning it at both ends. Research has shown that these nerve sliding techniques resulted in 5x more nerve movement when compared to other tensioning techniques!

Add these nerve slides to your hamstring mobility program to keep your nerves happy,  decrease tension, and reduce the risk of sciatica. Click the image below to view video!


🤓 Coppieters et al. Excursion of the Sciatic Nerve During Mobilization Exercises: An In-Vivo Cross-sectional Study Using Dynamic Ultrasound Imaging. J Orthopedic Sports Ther. 2015; 45 (10): 731-737.