Top Ways to Care for Your Restless Legs & Alleviate Pain
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) doesn’t sound like it’s too terrible. Your legs are restless. So what?
Those who do not suffer from this syndrome have no idea what a frustrating health issue this can be, and the massive toll it can take on your body. It certainly does not go by unnoticed, and really hits hardest when you finally rest your legs for the day — a.k.a. when you’re trying to go to sleep.
In fact, according to Science Daily, 80% of RLS sufferers claim their legs are “jerking or twitching uncontrollably” with this disease, and most often at night. So, if you fall into the unlucky 7-10% of the U.S. population that suffers from restless legs syndrome, then chances are good you’re looking for some ways to care for your legs to keep that restlessness and pain to a minimum.
Restless Legs Syndrome Symptoms
It feels impossible to not move your legs
When you have RLS, the urge to move your legs is not the same as what you feel when you’ve been sitting on an airplane for too long. Rather, it feels as if you could not possibly survive without continuously moving your legs. And, with that feeling also comes a number of other issues. Your legs will also tend to cramp, tingle, itch and more.
Your legs hurt most at night
Restless legs syndrome takes all the fun out of sleeping. This is typically the time that your restless legs really steal the spotlight and make sleeping nearly impossible. If you’re able to push past the initial restlessness and get some sleep, you may be rudely awakened by periodic limb movements (PLMS).
This type of movement strikes every 20-30 seconds throughout the night, so for those of you who are light sleepers, you’re going to have some long nights. However, if you are fortunate enough to be a deep sleeper, then you may find yourself not nearly as phased by PLMS as others, and may not even be awoken by them throughout the night.
Your leg pain decreases when you are moving
If you’re suffering from leg pain that seems to lessen or possibly even go away temporarily when you’re moving, that is also a sign of restless legs syndrome. It seems strange that moving would make your legs hurt less, but when you have RLS, that’s typically the case.
Your leg pain increases when you are sedentary
Yep, you guessed right — if your legs hurt less when you are moving, then they are going to hurt more when you are not moving. Traveling, sitting at your desk, and sitting on the couch are the top contenders for what will make your sedentary lifestyle a problem if you’re suffering from restless legs syndrome.
4 Tips to Ease Your Restless Legs Syndrome
Upping your iron
Though not always the case, sometimes the pain associated with restless legs syndrome can be a result of low levels of iron in your system. By adding iron supplements to your vitamin regimen, or getting your iron intravenously, you may see some of your symptoms alleviate.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to workout when your legs are bothering you, RLS is a health issue where exercising will actually benefit you. According to a study done with 28 participants over a 12-week trial period, exercising three days a week “had a significant improvement in symptoms” for restless legs syndrome.
Additionally, exercising can help improve sleep, which, when suffering from restless legs syndrome, can be a major help. As mentioned above, sleep can be a difficult task when dealing with the symptoms of RLS.
However, there is a fine line between the right amount of exercise and too much exercise when you’ve got RLS. Don’t push yourself too hard, or else you may find your legs hurting even more.
Yoga is recognized as a great form of movement to help with flexibility, stress, anxiety, balance, stretching, and now, restless legs syndrome. A study done showed that participants who practiced yoga on a regular basis for 8 weeks found that some of the symptoms associated with RLS were alleviated. These symptoms include poor sleep, stress, high blood pressure, and more.
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