Restless Legs Syndrome – Easing the Symptoms
What is it exactly?
Restless Legs Syndrome is an irresistible urge to move your legs and is sometimes accompanied by an unpleasant sensation deep within one or both calves – sometimes an uncomfortable “creepy crawly”, itchy or “pins and needles” sensation. The severity of these symptoms can range from mild to almost intolerable. It occurs in adults over 35 and twice as often in women as in men.
These uncontrolled leg movements are more prevalent at night and usually get worse when people rest or sleep. The resultant sleep deprivation can cause fatique, migraine or even depression and therefore can significantly impact your quality of life.
What causes it?
The causes are not fully understood but research to date suggests that the central nervous system is deficient of iron and certain cells can’t absorb it very well.
There are many drugs which can cause these symptoms and, as with cramps, they often respond to magnesium. Correcting a nutritional deficiency such as vitamin B12, folic acid, iron and magnesium, may help. Avoid foods which reduce iron absorption such as wine and tea. Other known aggravators are smoking, fatique, stress and alcohol.
Obesity also increases the risk of restless legs syndrome.
How can you ease the symptoms?
Exercise and stretching are the most natural ways to treat Restless Legs. Activity can help ease the symptoms. Get up and move around. That may be all that is required to calm your legs. Try a warm bath to help you relax your muscles and soothe any stress.
Exercising moderately five days a week may also help.
In particular, as with cramps, stretching the calf muscle and increasing the circulation of blood to the muscles during the evening before bed, has been shown over and over, to prevent restless legs and cramps occurring during the night.
One easy way to stretch the calf muscles and boost circulation, is to use an Aircycle inflatable exerciser while sitting during the evening. This simple, inexpensive device works the calf muscles and pumps the blood. Many people have reported success in relieving both cramps and restless legs in this way.
What people have found
“I am 84 years old and have used an air cycle for many years now. It gives me great relief from restless feet and legs. I use it in the evenings when watching TV and also through the night when I wake and cannot resettle as my feet and legs are so restless. After using the air cycle I settle almost immediately and get a good nights sleep.” Beryl, from New Zealand
A woman phoned one day to say she had had her Aircycle only two days and had had two nights’ undisturbed sleep without her usual night cramps.
Surprisingly, within five minutes of that call, an email arrived from a person saying exactly the same thing. “I’ve had my Aircycle only two days and had two good nights’ sleep without being woken with restless legs!”