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What Exercises Help Restless Leg Syndrome

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Are There Guidelines For Exercising With Rls

Restless Leg Syndrome Exercises – RLS (Best Exercises – Treat At Home)

The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation recommends making exercise part of your daily life. Regular exercise could lessen the severity of your symptoms by 40 percent. Try doing a mix of aerobics, resistance training, and stretching. Exercises should involve working your legs. Some examples include:2,4,5

  • Aerobic exercises exercises to get your heart rate up. These may include walking, running, swimming, dancing, kickboxing, and hiking.
  • Resistance training exercises to strengthen your muscles. These include lifting weights, doing push-ups, and using resistance bands.
  • Stretching exercises to increase range of motion and work all of your joints.

Doctors suggest 30 to 60 minutes a day. If this is too much, start with 10 minutes and slowly work up to longer workouts.

Paschimottonasana: Seated Forward Fold

Sitting with feet extended straight in front of you, lengthen your spine and fold forward from the hips. Grasp your feet with your hands or wrap a belt around your feet and hold. “Bend and support knees with blankets as needed to allow the spine to be lengthened,” said Solanki. Focus on stretching up rather than forward if it feels tight, and engage your feet and legs to stabilize the lower body. Breathe calmly and deeply and hold for five to 10 breaths.

Physical Therapy For Restless Leg Syndrome

Tid Bits of Info

  • 10-20% of the population complains of RLS symptoms.
  • Extreme daytime fatigue can be the condition that causes someone with RLS to seek medical help.
  • RLS can become a medically diagnosed sleep disorder that is labeled Periodic Limb Movement Disorder .
  • Symptoms of RLS occur when someone is at rest and they resolve with movement.
  • Seek the advice and treatment of a Physical Therapist if you have symptoms RLS.

People suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome may experience pain or itching in the muscles, jerking and jittery limbs, and a general discomfort in the legs or other limbs. RLS can interrupt sleep and cause overall discomfort during times of relaxation. This neurological condition has no known cause or cure. It is considered a movement disorder and has primarily been treated with medicine, but some lifestyle changes including more physical activity during the day might be the best way to manage the condition.

Symptoms of pins and needles, itchy, numbness, tugging and possibly an intense urge to move a leg are common to RLS or Willis-Ekbom disease. People of differing ages and both sexes suffer from this condition. While there is no known cause, genetics , high alcohol or caffeine use, pregnancy and some medications that treat a host of conditions can trigger a negative response and outcome. RLS diagnosis is made via a cluster of symptoms and not a single test.

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Check Your Medicine Cabinet

There are many common medicationsboth prescription and over-the-counterthat can trigger the symptoms of RLS or make them worse. Medications to watch out for include:

  • Cold and allergy medications containing antihistamines .
  • Anti-nausea medications .
  • Calcium channel blockers .
  • Antidepressants .
  • Antipsychotics .

Get checked for iron and vitamin deficiencies

A number of vitamin and mineral deficiencies are linked to restless legs syndrome.

Iron. Iron deficiency is a well-known cause of RLS, so ask your doctor to test you for anemia. However, supplementing with iron can also improve RLS symptoms in those who arent anemic.

Magnesium. Magnesium can improve sleep and some studies have shown it to be beneficial for restless legs. Try experimenting with a magnesium supplement at bedtime to see if your symptoms improve.

Vitamin D. Recent studies show that RLS symptoms are more frequent and more severe in people with vitamin D deficiency. Your doctor can easily test your vitamin D levels or you can simply make it a point to get out more in the sun.

Folate . Folate deficiency has been linked to RLS, which may explain why restless legs are so common in pregnant women . When folic acid is low, B12 is often low as well, so you may want to try supplementing with a B-complex vitamin.

What Causes Restless Legs

Exercises for Restless Leg Syndrome

The exact cause of Restless Leg Syndrome is unknown, but it has been linked to:

  • Iron deficiency and poor iron transport around the body
  • Family genetics 50% of RLS is linked to genetic chromosome 12 or 14, depending on the family
  • chronic diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, Parkinsons disease, and peripheral neuropathies
  • pregnant women in their last trimester
  • people taking certain medications such as anti-nausea, anti-seizure, and antipsychotic drugs.Restless Leg Syndrome

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What Type Of Medications Work On Restless Leg Syndrome

If your symptoms are severe or interfering with your activities, medication may be recommended. Your provider can help decide which treatment is best for you, but several options are available:

  • Iron supplementation

  • Anti-seizure medications, such as gabapentin enacarbil , , and

  • Dopaminergic medications, such as , , and

The anti-seizure medicines are quickly becoming favored as a first-choice treatment option because they seem to be as effective as the dopaminergic medications, with fewer side effects. There is also a risk of symptoms worsening with long-term use of dopaminergic medications.

Sometimes, other medications like benzodiazepines may be prescribed for more restful sleep, but these can be addictive so its best to avoid them if possible.

Tips For Adding Exercise Into Your Life

If you are interested in adding exercise into your routine, talk to your doctor. Some people have health conditions besides RLS that may impact the types of exercises they can do.

For those cleared to exercise, you may try starting with light stretching, walking, or weight lifting and see how your body responds. When starting a new exercise program, try short, 10-minute workouts once or twice a week. If your symptoms get better, you may be able to increase the length of your workouts.

If symptoms worsen, either lower the intensity or stop. If an exercise program is too much, you may consider just taking an extra flight of stairs on your way home from work or parking your car further away from a store entrance to add more steps into your day. Be patient. It may take a while to find what activities help your RLS.

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Upgrade Your Sleep Habits

Check that you’re doing everything you can to make your sleep the best it can be, starting tonight.

  • Go to bed at the same time each night.
  • Get up at the same time every day.
  • Finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime, so you have time to digest.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and primed for sleep.

Show Sources

Irving Asher, MD, assistant professor clinical neurology director, Movement Disorder Program, Neurology Outpatient Clinic, University of Missouri Health System, Columbus, Mo.

Jessica Vensel Rundo, MD, neurologist, Sleep Disorders Center, Cleveland Clinic.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation.

Pain Messages Travel Slower Than Other Nerve Stimulation

Restless Legs Syndrome Exercises (Home Remedies)

Nerves can also be categorised according to their diameter and whether a myelin sheath is present.

Three types of nerves are concerned with the transmission of pain:

A-beta fibres, which have a large diameter and are myelinatedA-delta fibres, which has a small diameter and also have myelinated sheaths.C fibres have small diameters, are non-myelinated , and are generally involved in transmitting dull, aching sensations.

Nerves with large diameters conduct impulses faster than those with a small diameter. The presence of a myelin sheath also speeds up the nerve conduction rate.

One method of easing your pain is to provide your nervous system with high speed “good feelings”, such as rubbing your injured area. This is the same principle that a tens machine utilises to provide pain relief.

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Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

PLMD is a similarly related sleep disorder, sometimes called periodic limb movement during sleep . In people with PLMD, the limbs twitch or jerk uncontrollably while sleeping. It is also considered a type of sleeping disorder. The movement may cause the individual to wake up frequently during the night, and this can undermine the quality and length of sleep. It can lead to RLS.

Lifestyle changes and common medications that may help alleviate RLS symptoms include:

  • Warm baths and massages: These can relax the muscles and reduce the intensity of symptoms.
  • Warm or cool packs: Some people prefer warm, some cold, and others say that alternating hot and cold is helpful.
  • Relaxation techniques: Stress can make RLS worse, so exercises such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi may help.
  • Exercise using legs more can help alleviate symptoms. If the patient has a sedentary lifestyle, walking instead of driving, taking up a sport, or exercising the legs in a gym can help.

Can Exercising Make Rls Worse

Intense exercise could worsen RLS. Running long distances, lifting heavy weights, and high-intensity exercises may put too much stress on your body. This could make RLS flare-up. The timing of exercise is also important. Exercising near bedtime has been shown to cause RLS flare-ups.2,4

Interested in reading more about lifestyle changes for symptom relief? Explore our featured collection on lifestyle changes and alternative treatments for RLS.

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Uttanasana: Standing Forward Fold

Standing with feet hip width apart, bend forward at the hips while keeping knees soft and lengthening the spine as you fold forward. “The idea of this pose is to stretch the back of the legs while letting the spine traction with gravity,” said Solanki. “This is a pose to be practiced any time of day or night.” Hold the stretch for about five to 10 breaths. Don’t hold the pose for longer than is comfortable, and be careful if you have problems with blood pressure.

What Does It Feel Like

Exercises To Help Restless Leg Syndrome

A person with RLS has a strange and unpleasant sensation in the legs, and sometimes the arms, and a strong urge to move them. People have described these feelings as:

  • aching
  • tugging
  • tingling

The only way to relieve the discomfort is by moving the legs. The sensations tend to occur when the individual is resting or inactive, and not only during the night. Symptoms often worsen in the evening and at night, and may be relieved for a short while in the morning.

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Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

The National Sleep Foundation recommends individuals practice good sleep hygiene to help them improve the quality of their sleep. It can also help reduce the discomfort caused by restless leg syndrome, because many of these practices also improve muscle relaxation. For instance, getting at least thirty minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise each day can help individuals expend the excess energy that can keep them awake at night. Exercise will also give muscles the workout they need to relax later in the evening. Patients should also avoid heavy foods that can inhibit sleep and can slow down the digestion process. Foods that are especially spicy, contain high starch, fat, or a high sugar content should be avoided in the hours before bed.

Most importantly, individuals need to develop a relaxation routine before bed. This means turning off electronic devices with the possible exception of using one to play relaxing music. Aromatherapy can also help patients relax, so experiment with different scents of essential oils, incense, or candles. Yoga, meditation, or a warm bath can all be great ways to promote relaxation.

Continue reading to unveil another treatment method for restless leg syndrome.

What Is Normal Protective Pain

Normally pain is good. It informs you about potential or actual damage to your bodys tissues. Nociceptor nerve cells in the tissues of your body, react to strong stimuli such as pressure, heat, cold or chemicals.

These nociceptors send a message to the spinal cord, which then forward another message up to the brain. Your brain then processes these messages and produces a coordinated response to escape whatever is causing the tissue damage.

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Vipariti Karani: Legs Up The Wall Pose

“This is a wonderful posture for the evening and especially if you either sit or stand all day,” noted Jyoti Solanki, RMT, RYT, registered massage therapist and certified yoga instructor at the Serona Centre in Ontario, Canada. Lie on your back with your legs extended up against the wall at a 90-degree angle. Stay in the position for 5 to 20 minutes to ease restless legs syndrome. However, Solanki cautioned that if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, or if you have your period or are pregnant, you should not practice this pose.

Does Exercise Help Restless Leg Syndrome


The right exercise at the right time can make a difference for clients suffering from RLS.

Purposeful movement is typically seen as a healthy endeavor, but erratic restless movement can be less than desirable.

Restless Leg Syndrome, or RLS, is considered to be a sleep disorder, although its discomfort and outright pain make sleep nearly impossible for some sufferers. While there are many symptoms clustered together to encompass RLS, most individuals living with this ailment describe sensations such as burning, electric shock, itching, and creeping flesh.

In a somewhat futile attempt at alleviating such symptoms, many patients feel the sudden urge to walk off these sensations. Since most incidences are observed upon laying down in preparation for a nights sleep, quiet slumber can prove highly elusive. While these feelings most commonly occur in the lower extremities, RLS can also affect the arms and hands.

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Other Tips To Think About

  • Massage: while there is no evidence for massage reducing RLS symptoms, tension and pain have been reported to be reduced with regular massage
  • Using a heat pack, having a warm bath or sometimes placing an ice pack on your symptomatic areas for 10-15 mins before bed may also help relieve symptoms
  • Practise relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, tai chi
  • Engaging in mental activity can delay or eliminate symptoms. Find an activity you enjoy to help distract you when the sensations are relentless. Reading a novel, doing crosswords, being absorbed with a hobby helps during times that you must stay seated
  • When travelling, plan ahead. Have some of the activities mentioned above, ready to go. If you are in the car, plan to make frequent stops to refresh yourself and avoid sleepiness. When travelling by plane, organise a doctors letter, requesting seating with more leg space and an aisle seat.
  • Have an escape place ready to sleep in, when you are concerned about disturbing your bed partner
  • Try to engage in good sleeping habits such as regular bedtimes and reduce stress before bedtime, as well as gentle stretching or meditation to help promote good sleep.
  • Identifying habits and activities that worsen RLS symptoms
  • Making sure your diet is healthy and balanced


What Is Restless Legs Syndrome

Do strange and unpleasant sensations in your legs keep you up at night? Are you bothered by an almost irresistible urge to move your legs when you lie down or relax? If so, you may have restless legs syndrome , a neurological disorder. The tingling, aching, and itching of RLS can last for hours and prevent you from getting the sleep you need.

Anyone can have restless legs syndrome, but its more common in older adults and women. Mild symptoms of RLS may start in early adulthood and then increase with age. After age 50, RLS symptoms often increase in severity and significantly disrupt sleep. Restless legs syndrome is also common during pregnancy .

Experts believe that low levels of iron in the brain may be responsible for RLS. An imbalance of dopamine is also believed to contribute. About 60% of people with restless legs have a family member with the condition, indicating a strong genetic component. Whatever the cause of your restless legs syndrome, though, its important to know that help is available. In recent years, experts have discovered better ways to manage and relieve symptomsincluding simple lifestyle changes and self-help remedies you can practice at home to quiet your restless legs and enjoy a peaceful, refreshing sleep.

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What Is Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques, education and advice. Physiotherapists maintain physical health, allow patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help encourage pain relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing daily living activities while assisting them to remain functionally independent.

There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.

Relieving Restless Legs In The Moment

10 Tips to Help Relax Restless Leg Syndrome

Sometimes, despite your best self-help efforts, the symptoms of restless legs flare up. The following tips will help you find quick relief:

  • Get up and walk around. Fighting the urge to move can make the feelings worse.
  • Distract yourself with a game or activity.
  • Apply hot or cold packs to your legs.
  • Try calf stretches, yoga poses, knee bends, or a simple ankle or foot rotation.
  • Relax your muscles with massage or a hot bath.
  • Pressure can help relieve the discomfort of restless legs syndrome. Try wearing compression socks or stockings or wrap your legs in bandages .
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    Tip : Get Daily Exercise

    Daily activity, including aerobic exercise and lower-body resistance training, can significantly reduce the symptoms of restless legs syndrome in most people. Choose activities you enjoy, especially those that emphasize using the legs. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days, although not too close to bed time.

    The exercise doesnt need to be intense. Simple daily activities such as walking can often deliver all the benefits youre looking for. In fact, highly vigorous exerciselike training for a marathoncan sometimes backfire and make RLS symptoms worse.

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