Do you often experience creeping, aching, or tingling sensations in your legs—particularly at night? That could very well be symptoms of a common disorder called restless legs syndrome (RLS). It affects about 10% of Americans, mostly those over the age of 65, but anybody can start feeling their first real symptoms as early as age 20 (or younger).
While it doesn’t cause any serious health problems, RLS can significantly disrupt your lifestyle by interfering with your sleep and, as a result, lead to severe fatigue.
Learn more about RLS below and what you can do to help manage its symptoms without relying on medications.
Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, RLS is categorized as a neurological condition that causes tugging, pulling, itching, tingling, or aching sensations in your legs, arms, or even other parts of the body. Its uncomfortable symptoms are usually felt when a person is sedentary—sitting, resting, or sleeping—and causes the overwhelming urge to move the affected limb to relieve the pain and discomfort.
Nobody knows the real cause of RLS. However, research has suggested that it may be due to an imbalance in the neural chemical messengers in the brain. It is also believed to be a sign of poor blood circulation (which is generally caused by staying still for long periods of time) and lack of exercise.
RLS comes with mild to severe symptoms that can negatively impact a person’s life. In some cases, it can even lead to anxiety and depression. It is often unrecognized or misdiagnosed, so it is important to be aware about the condition and undergo proper treatment before it gets worse and spreads to other parts of the body.
If you suffer from restless legs syndrome and are looking for some much-needed relief, we’ve listed a few natural remedies you can try to minimize the symptoms or potentially even treat the condition altogether.
The main symptom of restless leg syndrome is feeling a very strong need to move the legs, especially at night. Those suffering from it feel instant relief after making gentle movements with the affected limb, but doing regular morning and evening stretches (or after 30 minutes of inactivity) have been known to help keep the symptoms from occurring at all.
RLS is a good excuse to get a body massage. A simple calf massage can do wonders, but you can also get a Swedish massage or a myofascial release (MFR), as their benefits include stimulating muscle stretch reflex and improving blood circulation. According to the findings of one study, getting a massage increased dopamine (a brain chemical that affects the emotions, movements, and even sensations of pleasure or pain) levels in urine by over 30%—suggesting that massage therapy can potentially relieve the unpleasant symptoms that come with RLS (as well as other medical conditions).
For some, a change in temperature helps relieve the discomfort and pain caused by restless legs syndrome. If you can, try taking a cool shower in the morning or soaking in a warm bubble bath before bedtime. You can also use a heating pad or an ice pack on the affected limb, but alternate between the two to figure out which works best for you.
Yoga has wonderful benefits for everybody, including those suffering from RLS. It incorporates three of the best symptom-relieving activities—specifically deep breathing, relaxation, and stretching. In fact, a 2013 study observed a correlation between yoga and decreased RLS symptoms after placing a group of women with moderate to severe RLS on an 8-week yoga program. According to their findings, the consistent yoga regimen resulted in a mean 49% decline in symptom occurrence, and a 62% decrease in the severity of their symptoms.
Acupuncture is one of the most popular RLS treatments in traditional Chinese medicine. There is also a recent study evaluating acupuncture as a treatment for this condition, and according to the findings, it proved to be clinically useful for RLS when combined with a low dose of the anti-seizure drug Gabapentin.
But even without the medication, acupuncture is said to help relieve or control RLS symptoms effectively.
It may seem like a difficult task considering the fact that restless legs syndrome can disrupt your sleep, but you definitely need to follow a good sleeping routine in order to help lessen or control your symptoms. Not having a good, consistent sleep routine can aggravate the symptoms of RLS, so try to get quality sleep every night by making your bedroom conducive to relaxation and comfort. Keep your room comfortably cool, listen to soothing sounds, and absolutely no screens at least one hour before bedtime.
Stress is another trigger for RLS symptoms, so it’s important that you find ways to manage your stress and achieve enough relaxation throughout the day. Aside from yoga and getting enough peaceful sleep and massages, do breathing exercises, meditate, calm your anxiety, and eliminate the biggest stressors in your daily life.
Having coffee every morning can definitely help perk you up for the day, but limit it to the mornings so the caffeine won’t keep you up at night. As for alcohol and nicotine in tobacco, these are some of the worst substances that you can turn to when you have ALS as they interfere with the quality of your sleep and affect your nervous system.
Instead of drinking, try having a cup of hot (decaffeinated) tea or warm milk to promote slumber. Go for teas with herbs like chamomile, the most popular ingredient in nighttime teas, as well as those with valerian, lavender, and peppermint. Milk also contains high levels of tryptophan, the amino acid that is responsible for producing the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter, serotonin.
One common factor in people with restless legs syndrome is their deficiency in iron. Keeping your iron levels within a healthy range is known to help reduce RLS symptoms. Aside from getting tested and coordinating with your healthcare provider for treatment, you can increase your iron intake by consuming foods like beef, chicken, fish, turkey, organ meats, clams, and oysters.
Moving helps manage or eliminate your symptoms, so you’ll want to make sure that you exercise whenever and however you can. However, make sure not to overdo it, as too much or too vigorous exercise can potentially make your RLS worse. You can simply increase your daily physical activity with short walks and other quick, low-impact exercises.
One of the main reasons why people love the HOVR is because it helps address a number of health issues—including restless legs syndrome.
Aside from being a unique and fun desk exercise equipment that counteracts the effects of sedentary behavior, the HOVR directly helps alleviate RLS symptoms by promoting continuous, unconscious movement in the legs. At the same time, it helps loosen stiff joints, improve blood circulation, and increase daily physical activity levels, particularly for those who live highly sedentary lives.
If you’re looking for a non-medical tool that will help you manage RLS, give the HOVR desk swing a try today.
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