If you are suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), we have good news. RLS, a common health condition, can cause tingling, throbbing, and itching sensations, which often can only be eased with movement. Fortunately, certain types of exercises and stretches for Restless Leg Syndrome can help reduce your overall discomfort. Here’s what our medical experts want you to know.
About Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms tend to worsen at night, which can impair your ability to get a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, chronic lack of sleep can impact your overall physical, cognitive, and emotional health. If you are experiencing signs of Restless Leg Syndrome, we recommend contacting your doctor as soon as possible.
Common symptoms of RLS include:
- An uncontrollable urge to move your legs
- Uncomfortable tingling, throbbing, or itching in your legs
- The urge to move your legs intensifies the longer you sit or lay down
- Leg discomfort tends to begin or worsen in the evening
- Limb twitches occur throughout the night
- Quality of sleep is impacted
Restless Leg Syndrome can be caused by a range of underlying health conditions. One of these conditions is vein disease, or venous insufficiency. This common health issue affects millions of Americans each year. Along with causing restless legs, vein disease is also behind the development of varicose and spider veins.
Vein disease symptoms include:
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Tired, aching legs
- Burning in the calf or thigh
- Leg pain that feels better when you walk or elevate your legs
- Itchy, dry skin
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Difficulty standing for long periods
- Non-healing wounds on your legs
At USA Vein Clinics, we specialize in the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome and a variety of other venous conditions. If you are experiencing any vein symptoms, feel free to contact us for a full medical evaluation.
Stretches for Restless Leg Syndrome
When finding the right stretching formula to relieve your RLS symptoms, we suggest a little experimentation. Try out the following stretches to see what works for you. It may also help to play around with how often (and what time of day) you do them.
Calf stretch: While slightly bending both knees, set one foot about 1-2 feet behind the other. Be sure to place both feet flat on the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then change legs. You can also deepen the stretch by leaning forward slightly and resting your hands on your forward knee. You can also brace your hands against a chair or wall for additional support.
Front thigh stretch: Standing upright, lift one foot behind you and bend that knee. Grasp the raised foot behind you with the same side hand. Pull the foot up towards your rear, while keeping both knees as close together as possible. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then change sides. If needed, you can maintain your balance by using your opposite hand to brace against a chair or wall.
Hip stretch: From a kneeling position, place one leg forward with knee bent. Keep the front foot flat on the ground and place your hands on the forward knee or floor for balance. Lean forward and shift your pelvis forward slightly to maximize the stretch through your hip. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then change sides. This stretch can also be done from a standing position, placing your forward foot on a staircase or stable chair.
Exercises for Restless Leg Syndrome
Along with doing the above stretches for Restless Leg Syndrome, getting enough physical exercise can also be beneficial. In fact, following a low-impact, moderate daily exercise program can do wonders when it comes to alleviating RLS symptoms. Just keep in mind that most doctors recommend avoiding very strenuous exercise, such as marathon training. You may also need to avoid exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
Always talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. Don’t worry, though; they will almost always be supportive and encouraging. If you are currently sedentary, you may wish to start out with just a few minutes of activity each session. For maximum RLS symptom relief, we recommend working up to at least 30 minutes daily.
If you don’t enjoy exercise, try different activities and consider getting moving with a companion. Being joined by a friend or family member can be a great distraction that helps workout time pass quickly. Plus, this way you can both enjoy the wide range of health improvements that regular physical activity offers.
Here are some specific exercises to help Restless Leg Syndrome symptoms:
Walking: Many people consider this the easiest, most pleasant, and least expensive way to get their blood pumping. You can plan a walking route right from home or venture further out to discover local hiking trails. If you prefer going to the gym, walking on a treadmill is another convenient, effective option. On a treadmill, you can even watch TV while addressing your RLS issues!
Biking: Whether you prefer dirt trails or smooth pavement, you can pedal your way toward RLS symptom relief. Just be careful not to overexert on challenging hills or long rides, and always remember to wear your bike helmet.
Swimming: Not only is this a great workout, swimming can be easier on the joints than many other physical activities. If you like being in the water but your swimming skills leave something to be desired, try other water-based activities. You can use a kickboard for easier laps in the pool or branch out and attend a water aerobics class. If you live near the beach, you can even go play in the waves. You’ll likely be having so much fun, you won’t even realize you’re exercising.
Yoga and pilates: Although you may need to avoid more vigorous forms like Ashtanga or hot yoga, gentle yoga methods can help RLS. Because yoga is a relaxation technique, it can also aid you in managing stress and improving sleep quality. Pilates is another non-aerobic exercise program that strengthens your core, arms, and legs. It can also help increase flexibility and decrease RLS symptoms.
Minimally-Invasive Treatment for Restless Legs at USA Vein Clinics
If your restless legs are caused by underlying vein disease, our vein specialists are available to help. Although exercise and stretching can bring relief from RLS symptoms to some individuals, it may not be enough for you. To explore effective, non-surgical treatment options, schedule an initial consultation with one of our leading experts.
At USA Vein Clinics, we are passionate about improving your quality of life. You can visit any one of our 90 clinic locations or opt for a convenient telemedicine appointment. Most patients are surprised to learn how quickly they can be back to sleeping soundly through the night after treatment. We look forward to hearing from you!