How to stop 1.5 billion restless legs from kicking

If you like your restless legs you can keep them.

Did you know that several of your friends silently struggle every day with the ominous-sounding Willis-Ekbom’s Disease?

 

(I did too. Well, I still do, there is no definitive cure,

but to a much lesser extent – virtually non-existent.

Read on to see how you can beat this creepy-crawly nightmare.)

 

The affliction is more commonly referred to as Restless Legs Syndrome, which unfortunately makes a quite serious problem seem…, well, less serious.

 

What is Willis-Ekbom’s Disease?

For starters, it feels like this when you’re trying to sleep or relax at the end of the day:

Restless Legs Syndrome Is No Joke

Restless Legs Syndrome Is No Joke

 

WED is when you feel an “irresistible urge to move your legs (most often the legs, arms or phantom limbs) to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. Moving the affected body part provides temporary relief. These urges are most common around bed time or when relaxing, e.g., when watching a movie.

 

Some simply give up on the relaxing, while others lay awake for hours, kicking wildly both voluntarily and involuntarily, to get rid of the crawling, creeping and tickling, even aching, sensations in the legs.

 

Fantasizing about simply hacking one’s legs off, to escape the symptoms, is not uncommon.

At ANY Cost

At ANY Cost

 

1.5 billion spastic legs kicking in the silence of the night.

Since 1 out of 10 has this “spectrum” (scale/degree) disorder in one form or the other, you might as well have it. Perhaps you just didn’t have a name for it?

Sir Thomas Willis described the syndrome in 1672, almost half a millennium ago. Karl-Axel Ekbom made a more comprehensive study in 1945. Together they have named the syndrome: Willis-Ekbom’s Disease: WED.

 

2 most unwelcome bed guests and 1 cure (9 actually).

As I stated above, I had two of these 1.5 billion legs as my obnoxious companions in the TV-couch and bed. For me the following serendipitous combination worked to reduce 99% of my problems:

  • Cobra-ups (which I did to fix a bulging disc and hernia, resulting from poor couch posture – actually a lack of couch, lying on the floor with my neck up against the wall).
  • Vitamin-D (I gradually read more and more about the wide spectrum benign effects of vitamin D, in particular in the north. I now eat 4000 IU = 100ug per day in the winter. Here is a recent article on vitamin-D and WED).
  • Omega 3 (first and foremost anti-inflammatory, but also generally makes biological organisms work better at a cellular level).
  • Iron (generally better and more varied food for other reasons; iron is used for a precursor to dopamine and dopamine drugs seem to work on RLS).
  • Deadlifting (just a coincidence that I included this cure-all exercise in my program around the same time)
  • Better posture at all times (after fixing my disc and starting to deadlift).
  • Less continuous sitting time.
  • Less sugar (sugar is inflammatory).
  • Reduced stress (my work situation changed gradually to the better from 2005 and onward, but I hardly think that had any measurable effect on my condition).

 

Cobra-ups neutralize the vertebraes, after a day of sitting at the office, in the car and the couch.

CUs can prevent restless legs and sleep issues but most of all prevent throwing your back.

Cobra-up

Cobra-up, I did 15 every second hour for three months, to cure my bulging disc

Cobras may seem unnatural, but so is walking on two legs. Humans’ back problems are due to us being fish and reptiles by construction. We still are as phoetuses. The quick and dirty adaption of a horizontal spine to a vertical one, with several compensatory bends, form the backbone of all hernias and related problems.

Blame the crocodiles!

Standing up further complicates the blood flow and oxygenation of various body parts – which is central to WED.

 

There is no known cure

I’m not saying I’ve found the cure. Curing RLS or WED would be like curing allergy; the spectrum of symptoms is too wide, as is the collection of causes.

Not even the mechanism is fully clear. A couple of things seem involved though: iron levels, oxygen levels (in the central nervous system as well as the muscle tissue), dopamine levels, blood flow, fitness level, inflammation, pinched nerves and electrolyte imbalances.

In general it seems the disease is hereditary (iron storing, oxygen transportation, blood vessels, dopamine) but its expression depends on nutrition (iron levels, inflammation, fitness, blood flow), the level of fitness (affects blood flow and oxygenation) and state of inflammation (affects blood vessels and blood flow).

As you see there is quite a lot (scientifically-based, as well as empirically tried by yours truly) you can do to get hours more of quality rest per day:

  • Keep your iron levels in the correct range (iron is used in the dopamine system, as well as for transportation of oxygen, but too much is still too much).
  • Keep your inflammation levels low (eat omega 3 and D-vitamin, avoid sugar. My guess is that the right lactobacteria would help too).
  • Stay fit (obese have poor circulation and reduced oxygenation, and often poor posture too).
  • Control your posture (to avoid bulging disks, hernias, pinched nerves: sit straight, don’t slouch, hold your cell phone at eye leveldamn it!).
  • Do mobility exercises (spine: cobra ups, chest/shoulder: morpheus, psoas: couch stretch, hip: squat).
  • Try nitrate rich food for increased blood flow (beetroot juice, spinach, chard widen blood vessels; the gene for Nitrogen oxide is a marker for WED).

You really should do all of the above.

 

In addition, the drug Pramipexol widens the blood vessels as well as reduces pain, both of which provides relief from restless legs. I’ve never tried it, since my symptoms all but disappeared with a natural approach anyway.

Just say no to drugs (unless they are for recreational purposes, although a spliff probably reduces RLS/WED as well).

at least good for umara composis

at least good for umara composis

 

Other suggested “solutions” include cold showers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I wouldn’t go there – I mean who thinks a cold shower will help you fall asleep?

Sleep tight

Sleep tight

You decide how much trouble you want to pass on

An educated guess, based on epigenetics research, is that highly expressed WED, due to poor nutrition and low fitness level, will be inherited, so take care of your restless ones now before you pass them on to your children to a larger extent than you have to.

 

It’s a warning

See your restless legs as a warning, a signal to change your lifestyle. Eat better, exercise, don’t stress and you will short circuit the entire RLS chain of problem with fitness/posture/nerves/circulation/iron/dopamine/inflammation/vessel condition/blood flow/oxygenation.

 

Summary – there is hope, there is relief

  1. WED is not fun at all, I know.
  2. The causes are multifaceted and so are the cures (try them all to slide as far to the bottom of the WED spectrum as possible).
  3. The lifestyle changes you need to make do not guarantee total relief, but they are all beneficial anyway.
  4. At least do it for the kids.

 

DO THIS

Okay, in practice here is what you should do:

  • Add 15 cobra-ups twice daily to your routine. It takes one minute and you shouldn’t get sweaty.
  • Take omega 3 supplements and vitamin D if you don’t already.
  • Add beetroots or spinach to your weekly food.
  • Mobilize your hip, psoas, thoracic spine and shoulders regularly.
  • Avoid sugar.
  • Minimize sitting, but sit straight when you do.

 

Read more about Restless Legs/WED here at rls.org.

And more about possible cures here at rlcure

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29 Comments

  1. I don’t have WED, fortunately, but I’ve wondered a few times if there was a name for it.

    You are right about the cold showers. That’s why I shower in the afternoon when I get low energy–to wake myself up.

  2. I do not exercise a lot, but I do regularly kind of mobility exercises with push-ups after waking up, and walk a lot, which helps me to be fit. Have been doing psoas for month, and it feels great. Will add doing kobra-ups.

    I used to cold shower for 2 years, now I stopped. But as you in post,and Ludvig in a comment, it wakes you up, but I used to shower mostly in the evening. Sleeping in the 16-17 C , or in colder room is my favourite.

  3. Before bedtime, I take a warm-hot shower but ends with rinsing my legs with very cold water for a few minutes until they feel cold internally. Works for me ALL the time!

    • Great, but it’s not that straightforward for everybody. Worth trying though, of course.

  4. thank’s its really helps me. i only get this syndrom on my left leg. am i the only one? sorry for bad english.

  5. I’m going to try your suggestions. Vitamins is a great alternative to trying a drug. Thanks for your information.

    • Yes, I agree. I still get why the afflicted are ready to try anything. Restless legs are hell on earth.

        • I have been on Pramipexole (Mirapex) for a while now and hate taking a rx drug, however it does work. I am going to try your suggestions.

  6. Thanks for the information, this truly is hell on earth! For the last two weeks I’ve been averaging about four hours of sleep a night, it is driving me insane. I will try all of your suggestions and hope that it works for me. I don’t really care to get on the drugs that the doctors recommend.

    • I really hope it works out for you. I’m just relieved I got rid of the syndrome with as little as 6-12 months of specific exercises (cobras) and supplements (omega3 oil, vitamin D).

  7. I’ve had RLS, aka WED for almost 27 years! The first time a doctor said “you have restless legs syndrome” I just stared at him thinking “you just made that up off the top of your head!” A few weeks later I actually read about it in a magazine … The entire paragraph! I have symptoms every single night so I take prescription drugs before bedtime hoping to ward off the jerking, twitching, and at times, excruciating pain but it starts after the pills wear off anyway. I dearly wish they would find a cure but till then, I’ll keep trying to find the perfect remedy… for me anyway. When my RLS is at its worst level the only relief I’ve found is crawling in a tub of water as hot as I can stand for up to two hours. I’ve tried everything in your suggestions except the exercises so I will definitely give them a try.

    • I just hope you’ll be able to find some relief sooner or later, whether with my hacks or something else.

      Take care.

    • I hope something helps. If your Omega 6/3 ratio is too high I think the first answer lies there (Omega oil supplement or lots and lots of fat fish). Just note that it takes around 3 months for the cells to adjust.

  8. Mikael,

    Could you post a picture demonstrating de morpheus excercise? I can’t find it on the net.

    I have a restless right leg that wakes me up kicking some times, never gave it much importance…I will pay atention to see if this tips put it to rest.

    Tack så mycket

    • Check out my video here. I’m demonstrating a lying down Morpheus (on my back with my forearms behind the back) at 1:40 into the video.

  9. You could add Magnesium to the list. Gives almost instant releif, as it is relaxing.

    Quick fix: Ice cold shower *on the legs*, particularly the backside of the knees, and the ankles (blood vessles), then go directly to bed for peaceful sleep. :)

  10. This just started for me. I know it relates to a pinched nerve and just started having sciatica issues too. You describe it perfectly. I thought I was maybe a little crazy. The feeling of a tickle and then having to flex or jerk the leg. I already work out. I am going to add the cobra stretch and sit up on the couch. I checked my expensive supplements from Usana and no iron is in the antioxidant or chelated minerals….like really?!!.. if I can stop this now or minimize it and get rest I thank you very much. I did acupuncture today with cupping and my sciatica is not bothering me like before. Yet the legs started about 10pm though. Thanks again.

  11. I have lived with RLS since I was about 12. My parents & docs thought I was nuts & trying to get out of school. When my grandmother was hospitalized, she showed signs of RLS & I was the only person who knew what she was talking about. I would rub her legs until she drifted off to sleep.
    I take Requip; which helps with @ half of the symptoms. I am always prepared for RLS to creep on up. Along with the Requip, (nightly), I will spray ICY HOT on affected area and put on a hot heating pad. I put my headphones in & try to get lost in the music. This is just about a nightly occurence & it is HELL!!! When all else fails, I ride my exercise bike for miles…until I am exhausted & fall right to sleep.
    I also get RLS in my back. That is 1000 times the hell it is in my legs. There is nothing I have found to relieve my back issues. Looking forward to any help!

    • RLS/WED truly is hell on earth. I’m sure you’ve already tried everything I suggest in the post, and much more. Unfortunately I have nothing more for you, but should you find anything of value please post it here.

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