Nerve Glides for Singers

Use Nerve Glides to Monitor Neck Tightness

If there was a simple tool to warn you about potential neck tension, would you be interested?

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In this video, Selina shows you what nerve glides are and how this simple and effective tool can help singers monitor neck tension.

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’Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement™.

B. Phty
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What are nerve glides and why are they friends of singers? Let’s find out.

Nerve glides are both an assessment and treatment technique physiotherapists use to assess the length and mobility of your nervous system.

Let’s have a look inside. Once your nerve comes out from the spinal cord, they braid themselves into three main nerves down your arm and two main nerves down your leg. Each nerve weave amongst your muscles, tendons, bones, fascia, blood vessels as it traverses down your limb.

When you move, your nerve have to slide along all these adjacent tissues. I like to imagine them as giant dental flosses sliding inside a moving twisting tube.

By positioning your arm and leg in specific ways we can assess the mobility of each of your five main nerves and the effect increasing and decreasing tension have on them. This is why they are called neural tension tests.

And it is this tension part that makes them such a valuable tool.

Nerves are free spirits and they love to move unhindered. They are very sensitive to subtle changes in your movement and muscle tension, if there’s any impedance to free movement, they let you know.

This can be as simple as having less range of movements than you normally do, to undo muscle tension, all the way to having aches and pains or nervy symptoms, and with these it is definitely time to go check in with your own physio.

This sensitivity is what makes them such excellent monitoring tool, they’re like canary in the mines.

Nerve glides often let me know my neck is tight before I notice any tightness myself. As singers, our neck is a priority area because our larynx lives right in front of our neck, and tight neck begets tight voice. So any tool that can warn me about tightness is immensely valuable.

With this information I can review and decide if I need to up my stretching, take a rest day, or book in with my voice physio for some treatment.

This is why I say nerve glides are friends of singers.

So what do they look like. There are two types of neural tension manoeuvres- glides and tensioners.

In glides, there is an increase in tension on one end of the nerve and a decrease in tension in the opposite end. Glides are good for symptom relief and maintenance work.

In tensioners, there is an increase in tension from both ends of the nerve. Tensioners are more aggressive and can also be used for maintenance work and is essential for anyone doing flexibility training. It is often what’s holding people back from fully opening their shoulders or doing the splits.

To use them as a monitoring tool it is important that you know what your baseline is and what your normal side-to-side difference is. For most people both sides should be practically the same.

For me, I like to check in with my nerves either every day or every second day to see how things are. Between my arm balance and handstand practice, working on the computer, stress and anxiety, I can build up undue tension in my neck and shoulders which then sneakily affect my voice without me even realising it, by checking in with my nerves they give me the heads up so I can do something about it.

So, do you think a tool like that is useful? Do you want to learn how to do them? Let me know in the comments.

If you’ve found this useful please let me know with a thumb up.

I’m Selina, a physio and a singer. I help singers build strong bodies to enhance their vocal efficiency and performance, if that is your vibe please subscribe.

And this is the playlist I have made just for singers so make sure you check it out. ’til next time, Be Free In Your Movement.™

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