The effect of spinal position on sciatic nerve excursion during seated neural mobilisation exercises: An in vivo study using ultrasound imaging

Richard Ellis*, Samantha Osborne, Janessa Whitfield, Priya Parmar, Wayne Hing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Research has established that the amount of inherent tension a peripheral nerve tract is exposed to influences nerve excursion and joint range of movement (ROM). The effect that spinal posture has on sciatic nerve excursion during neural mobilisation exercises has yet to be determined. The purpose of this research was to examine the influence of different sitting positions (slump-sitting versus upright-sitting) on the amount of longitudinal sciatic nerve movement during different neural mobilisation exercises commonly used in clinical practice. Methods: High-resolution ultrasound imaging followed by frame-by-frame cross-correlation analysis was used to assess sciatic nerve excursion. Thirty-four healthy participants each performed three different neural mobilisation exercises in slump-sitting and upright-sitting. Means comparisons were used to examine the influence of sitting position on sciatic nerve excursion for the three mobilisation exercises. Linear regression analysis was used to determine whether any of the demographic data represented predictive variables for longitudinal sciatic nerve excursion. Results: There was no significant difference in sciatic nerve excursion (across all neural mobilisation exercises) observed between upright-sitting and slump-sitting positions (P = 0.26). Although greater body mass index, greater knee ROM and younger age were associated with higher levels of sciatic nerve excursion, this model of variables offered weak predictability (R2 = 0.22). Discussion: Following this study, there is no evidence that, in healthy people, longitudinal sciatic nerve excursion differs significantly with regards to the spinal posture (slump-sitting and upright-sitting). Furthermore, although some demographic variables are weak predictors, the high variance suggests that there are other unknown variables that may predict sciatic nerve excursion. It can be inferred from this research that clinicians can individualise the design of seated neural mobilisation exercises, using different seated positions, based upon patient comfort and minimisation of neural mechanosensitivity with the knowledge that sciatic nerve excursion will not be significantly influenced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy
Issue number2
Early online date22 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017


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