Q: How about a post on yoga for restless leg syndrome?
A: Restless leg syndrome is a disorder that causes an urge or need to move your legs to stop unpleasant sensations. The sensations occur in your lower legs between your knee and ankle, and the feeling makes you uncomfortable unless you move your legs. These sensations are described as creeping, crawling, aching, pulling, searing, tingling, bubbling, or crawling. They usually occur at night when you lie down, or during the day when you sit for long periods of time, and may last for one hour or longer. They may also occur in your upper legs, feet, or arms. You will feel an irresistible urge to walk or move your legs, which almost always relieves the discomfort.
Most patients have rhythmic leg movements during sleep hours, called periodic limb movement disorder. All of these symptoms can disturb sleep, and this lack of sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, anxiety or depression, and confusion or slowed thought processes. The symptoms can also make it difficult to sit during air or car travel, or through classes or meetings.
Restless leg syndrome occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults, and seems to be exacerbated by stress. Patients with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, pregnancy, use of certain medications such as caffeine, calcium channel blockers, lithium, or neuroleptics, and withdrawal from sedatives have a higher incidence as well.
There is no specific test for restless leg syndrome and no known cure. Treatment is aimed at reducing stress and helping the muscles relax through gentle stretching. Ding, ding, ding! Obviously, given the fact that western recommendation includes gentle stretching exercises, not to mention stress reduction, yoga is an excellent alternative for someone with this condition to try.
We recommend that you gently stretch all the basic muscle groups in your legs. All the basic standing poses are helpful if you do them in a gentle way, moving dynamically or just staying in the poses for short periods of time. And, of course, one of the most effective leg stretches is the Reclined Leg Stretch series (Supta Padangusthasana series). Baxter’s Dynamic Reclined Hip Stretches would also be great the legs and hips. To stretch your calves, try practicing Warrior 1 with your forearms on the wall to give your back leg a good stretch.
—Baxter and Nina