yOGA pOSES FOR rESTLESS lEG sYNDROME
Having trouble with Restless Leg Syndrome?
Yoga can help. This article explains the basics of yoga, how it can help, and a few poses to try.
- What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
- Treatments for Resless Leg Syndrome
- Exercises for Restless Leg Syndrome
- Yoga for Restless Leg Syndrome
If you've found yourself lying in bed, stricken by the unbearable urge to move your legs, you might have felt very alone. You might take comfort in the thought that about 10% of the population is sitting up at night thinking the same thing.
You might be experiencing Restless Leg Syndrome, and this neurological condition is more common than you think. Luckily, relief can be as simple as incorporating a few basic restless leg stretches into your daily movement routine.
In addition to improving symptoms, yoga can positively impact your overall quality of life. Various studies have found that yoga for RLS can reduce discomfort, increase sleep quality, and provide peace of mind for individuals of all ages.
We've created this guide to help you discover the best place to start. Continue reading to learn more about RLS and how the right yoga poses for Restless Leg Syndrome can reignite your mind-body connection.
What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Imagine that you're comfy in bed. It has been a long day, and you're eager to get a good night's sleep. You're feeling tired, so you're sure you'll doze off quickly.
However, just before you settle into slumber, you're stricken by a sudden urge to move your legs. You try to ignore it, but it's uncomfortable, and you're unsure if you can sleep through the sensation. The only thing that seems to help is moving your legs.
While movement grants temporary relief, the sensation returns. Desperate for sleep, you move your legs again. The problem persists throughout the night, keeping you awake.
When your alarm goes off the following day, you feel more exhausted than the night before. You spend your day in a haze. Your exhaustion may interfere with work or school-related tasks, impacting your performance.
When you lay down in bed that night, desperate for relief, it begins all over again.
That's the reality for individuals with Restless Leg Syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease.
Sensations Beginning While Resting
The primary symptom of RLS is just what it sounds like—the uncomfortable urge to move one's legs. Most individuals experience this in the evening, such as lying in bed. You may also experience symptoms during other moments of rest, such as while seated in the car.
Many individuals with Restless Leg Syndrome also experience periodic limb movement of sleep. The legs may kick and jerk during the night. Some individuals may be unaware of this symptom, as it's possible to sleep through it.
In RLS, the urge to move your legs begins with an unpleasant sensation. Patients report feeling the sensation in the limb rather than on the skin. They mostly feel it in the legs, though it can impact other body parts, including the arms.
RLS sufferers have described the sensation in the following ways:
- Throbbing Electricity-like Creeping and crawling Pulling
- Creeping and crawling
Regardless of how it feels, the sensation is nearly always accompanied by a desire to move your legs. Upon moving your legs, you will experience temporary relief.
Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome
This neurological disorder can impact individuals of any age but is more common in older populations. Women are more likely to experience RLS than men.
Though there is no known cause for the condition, the following factors may contribute:
- A family history of RLS
- Hormonal disorders
Restless Leg Syndrome is usually not a sign of other medical concerns. In rare cases, it may accompany more severe health issues such as iron deficiency or anemia. If you are experiencing new or worsening symptoms of RLS, always see your physician to confirm the diagnosis.
Relief From Restless Leg Syndrome
While no medication specifically for treating RLS, many medications for other disorders can help. These include muscle relaxants, sleep aids, and occasionally opioids. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to increase dopamine levels or impact calcium channels in the body.
It can sometimes take time to find a medication that works for you. If you are taking other medications, those drugs may play a role in worsening your symptoms. In those instances, medication may not be the best treatment for you.
With that said, many individuals use home remedies to find relief from the most pervasive symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. One such remedy is exercise, including low-impact leg yoga poses. You do not need special training or equipment to take advantage of yoga exercises for restless leg syndrome.
Below, we'll introduce you to some of our favorite yoga poses for restless legs.
Why Try Yoga for Restless Leg Syndrome?
Yoga is about more than stretching. It helps individuals of all ages and abilities strengthen their mind-body connection. When you begin to practice yoga, you will use breathing, mindfulness, and meditation to help relax muscle groups throughout the body.
All types of exercise have had some effect on the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. On the most basic level, this is because exercise helps you use up extra energy. When your body gets tired, you're more likely to fall asleep before uncomfortable RLS symptoms can kick in.
Several recent studies have connected yoga with a reduction in uncomfortable RLS symptoms. Researchers have noted other positive lifestyle benefits, including:
- Reduced insomnia
- Improved sleep quality
- Longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep
- Increased overall strength
- More energy
- Improved flexibility
- Reduction in anxiety
- Improved mood
- Lower stress
- Enhance metabolism
All recent studies suggest that the more time you spend practicing yoga for restless legs, the more your RLS symptoms will improve. We recommend starting with a few simple poses. If you experience relief, seek out a local yoga class or try some longer online tutorials.
Best Yoga Poses for Restless Legs
We've gathered a few low-impact yoga stretches for restless leg syndrome, perfect for beginners.
Unlike other RLS treatments, yoga has no side effects. That makes it ideal for women experiencing pregnancy-related symptoms. If you don't currently have a movement routine, the worst you can expect is a minor soreness as your muscles get used to moving in new and novel ways.
With that said, you should not experience pain while practicing these yoga exercises for restless legs. Enrolling in a supervised yoga class may be more appropriate if you are uncomfortable. An instructor can help correct your form or modify poses to address your unique physical needs.
If you're ready to try yoga on your own, choose a time and place that allows you to relax and take your time. That might mean first thing in the morning in your bedroom or right before bed in the den. You shouldn't need any special equipment to give these poses a try.
You might feel a little silly if you're new to yoga, but we promise the benefits are worth it!
Child's pose, or Balasana, is a simple, gentle stretch appropriate for beginners. Practitioners consider it an essential resting posture. It can help you reconnect with your breath, gently stretch many parts of your body, and take stock of your physical condition.
To begin, find a smooth, clear surface and come to your hands and knees. Spread your knees apart about the width of your abdomen. The tops of your feet should remain on the ground.
Come forward so your forehead is resting gently on the floor. Your stomach should rest between your thighs. Once you're comfortable, take a moment to relax your muscles, releasing any tension in your neck, jaw, and shoulders.
Many people are more comfortable stretching their arms forward in front of their heads with their palms flat on the ground. Alternately, you can lay your arms beside your thighs with the palms facing upward. Find the position that is most comfortable for you.
Aim to remain in this pose for as long as it remains calming and comfortable, no longer than twenty minutes. This is an ideal time for engaging in restless leg syndrome meditation. Notice your breath and any tension in your legs or other muscles.
Supported Bridge pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, is a restorative pose intended to work your core. You can attempt this pose with or without a support block. This pose is sometimes part of a cool-down during regular yoga practice, making it the perfect opportunity to try mindful meditation for Restless Leg Syndrome.
Begin by choosing a flat, clear, solid surface and lying on your back. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Aim to keep your legs and feet parallel.
Lay your arms on the floor beside you and reach out as if you are trying to touch your heels.
When you are comfortable, bear down on the soles of your feet and aim to lift your hips off the ground. If you use a yoga block, slide it under your back to support you.
You should not feel any discomfort in this pose. If you begin to feel pain, you should come out of the pose by lifting your hips, removing the block, and slowly lower your back to the ground.
Attempt to hold the pose for ten slow, mindful breaths.
Seated Forward Fold
The Seated Forward Fold pose, or Paschimottanasana, is a more intense stretch for beginners. You will feel this stretch in the back of your body, including your hamstrings and calves. It should open up your hips and help you relax, making it an ideal evening stretch.
Begin by sitting with your legs straight in front of you on a clear, flat surface. Bring your arms over your head and reach up toward the ceiling. Take a deep breath and pull your spine upward until it feels like someone is pulling you upright on a thread.
Exhale as you lean forward at the hips. On your next inhale, aim to make your spine even longer. On your next exhale, bend forward a little deeper.
Repeat this process until you have stretched as deep as you can go. When holding this pose, you can either remain in your extended position or round your spine forward. It can help grab your shins or ankles as you stretch.
Aim to stay in your stretch for at least five breaths. As you get better at this pose, your flexibility will improve. Eventually, you should be able to hold the pose for ten breaths or longer!
Other Poses to Try
Once you've mastered the above yoga stretches for legs, you may add a few new poses to your at-home repertoire. The following beginner poses might be a good place to start:
- Legs Up the Wall Pose
- Standing Forward Fold
- Basic relaxation pose
- Hero's pose
- Downward dog
- Goddess pose
- Triangle pose
- Pigeon pose
- Warrior 1
Choose a combination of stretches and poses that work for your body and lifestyle. Once you've developed a routine, aim to increase your time doing yoga daily. It may take some time, but you will begin to experience relief from your RLS symptoms and experience quality sleep again.
Restless Leg Stretches Provide Relief
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice, and it has persisted that long for a reason! A few simple, relaxing restless leg stretches each day can benefit more than just your uncomfortable RLS symptoms. You might feel more relaxed, less stressed, and ready to take on new challenges in your life.
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About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.