Are you one of the 15% of the population that suffers from Restless Legs?
There is nothing worse than restless legs – lying awake at night, unable to sleep and desperately uncomfortable because your legs are itching or cramping like mad or you have a bad case of pins and needles.
You feel an overwhelming desire to get out of bed and move about, anything that will help alleviate the pain from the throbbing or burning sensation running through your body. You are tired and frustrated, walking around doesn’t seem to help and you are beginning to feel at your wits’ end.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
Here Katie, our lovely resident osteopath, shares some great tips for stretching and movement that could help ease restless legs:
1) Keep Moving
If you spend most of your time at your desk, try and keep moving as much as you can. Leave your office at lunchtime and have a quick walk around the block or in the nearest park, get your circulation going with a quick jog on the spot for a few minutes or take a five minute break every hour and walk around the office.
2) Boost Circulation
Poor circulation may be related to Restless Leg Syndrome so massage is known to boost circulation and the pressure on your body can help move blood through the congested areas. Try and start and end your day by stretching your legs. Give yourself a DIY gentle massage whilst watching TV or even better, ask your other half!
3) Stick to a Routine
It’s all about getting into a routine at bedtime which can help to improve your sleep patterns. Your routine depends on what works for you but the most important thing is working to one and sticking to it. By keeping regular sleeping hours this can help to programme the brain and internal body clock to get used to a certain routine.
4) Stretch Your Legs
If you’re going on a long car journey stop regularly to stretch your legs, this will help loosen your limbs and keep you alert. If you’re a frequent flyer, request an aisle seat so you can get up regularly to give your circulation a boost. Compression socks can also be helpful. They are tighter at the ankle than at the knee which helps stimulate blood flow from the legs up and can reduce feelings of restlessness and discomfort.
5) Regularly Unwind
Unwind at the end of the day with a lovely hot bath. This will relax you and your muscles and can therefore help soothe the RLS symptoms too.
6) Get Enough Iron
Are you getting enough iron? Iron deficiency is one cause of RLS. Your doctor can talk to you about this.
7) Learn to Relax
Relaxation techniques such as meditation or mindfulness may reduce RLS symptoms. When you are suffering from an attack, stretching may at first ease the symptoms and easing your mind into a state of ‘acceptance’ and opening the mind to mindfulness. Accepting everything that comes your way and not fighting it can help ease the stress, although this is by no means easy!
8) Chill out!
Placing icepacks on your legs for a few minutes at night may calm your restless legs. A 2016 study by Happe et al showed that applying cold at -17C for 3 minutes per day per leg improved the quality of life and sleep for sufferers.
9) All in Moderation
And finally….go easy on the alcohol, caffeine and smoking in the evening, in some cases stimulants can make RLS symptoms worse if they are consumed too close to bedtime as they can interfere with your quality of sleep even before the RLS symptoms kick in!
10) Seek Advice
Although we don’t know exactly what causes RLS there does appear to be a genetic link and it can be linked to other conditions so it is always worth seeing your GP to rule these out. They can often prescribe medication that is helpful in combating the symptoms. Certainly medication combined with self help tips and regular exercise seems to give the best results.