Millions of people suffer from leg cramping and restless leg syndrome (RLS), especially at night. While certain forms of discomfort are a natural by-product of exercise, the main symptom of the cramping and RLS is often caused by diet, daily physical activities, stress, and even the types of clothing or shoes that are worn. By making small changes, using supplements, meditation, and being attentive to diet, Relief from Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms can be easily achieved.
I developed RLS about 10 years ago and have some circulation issues with my feet as I have grown older. For a time the RLS was a huge problem for me along with leg cramps at night. Over the last three years, I have been able to eliminate both. While I cannot point to a single thing that I did to cause this I can point to the things that have changed in my life and which I believe are at least a part of the improvement.
While many of you may or may not know about Laurel and I and our lifestyle change this is a brief summary. In 2015 we were both couch potatoes and were 150 or more pounds overweight. I have dropped from 350 down to 210 lbs and did this without any diet or formal exercise routine. We decided at that time (when we were 62 and 63 years old) to begin a new life as “World Nomads”. We have visited most of the worlds great landmarks and 71 countries to date. All this while living only on our Social Security payments and a little from our blog.
Below are the significant lifestyle changes that we have undertaken.
‥ No Soft Drinks
‥ Increased Water Intake
‥ More Exercise (nothing formal, just miles of walking sightseeing and shooting photographs)
‥ Healthier Diet
‥ Meat and Vegetables that are free of growth hormones
‥ Less Stress
‥ A Happier Look At Day to Day Life
We do not advocate that everyone follow the road we have taken. But, at our current age of 66 and 67, we have not been sick or needed to see a doctor for as long as we can remember. We do not use any prescription drugs and we don’t smoke or drink.
However, we believe that the health of the people in the U.S. suffers because of:
1. Over-Medication by Doctors
2. Unhealthy Food Additives
3. Growth Hormones In All Foods Leading to Obesity
I hope you find the information about Night Leg Cramps and Restless Leg Syndrome helpful and as always we are here to answer any questions or comments you might have.
Before fixing a problem, it is necessary to understand it and knowing what cramps and RLS are can help you make the right choice of which natural method to use. Leg cramping occurs when the calf muscles spasm involuntarily. Restless Legs Syndrome is caused by a disorder of or damage to the nervous system causing an uncontrollable need to move the legs. Both cramping and RLS tend to occur most when a person is at rest or sleeping. As such, they are both labeled as a form of sleep disorder. However, Relief from Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms is achievable with minor changes.
The effects of spasms and cramps can easily be controlled by diet, physical activity, and meditation. A frequent cause of cramps is an electrolyte imbalance. Deficiencies in both potassium, as well as magnesium, often cause discomfort, especially in legs and for those who are frequent exercisers. Eating foods that are higher in both nutrients such as grass-fed meat, eggs, fish, grains, and certain fruits and vegetables will help to lessen the severity of cramps if not eliminate them altogether.
Stretching and massaging the area where there is discomfort can also help to eliminate unwanted cramping. Several people experience cramping after long periods of inactivity such as sitting down at a desk for a long period of time. Because this affects the blood flow to and from the legs, it can cause inflammation, lactic acid build-up, and several other symptoms that lead to cramping. Standing up and stretching the muscles or taking time to massage the muscle at consistent intervals is proven to alleviate pain. In specific cases where cramping is experienced after a workout or exercise, it may be necessary to change a pre- or post-workout routine. Without a proper warm-up and cool down, the muscles are unable to be pliable during the workout/exercise sessions. Warming up the muscles by jogging, stretching, and using a full range of motion and then again, following exercise by gentle stretching, will help the muscles relax when they are finally at rest.
There are specific stretching exercises that address charlie-horses (cramping) such as the seated hamstring stretch. This exercise is performed by stretching your legs out in front of you while in a seated position. Pull one leg as close to your chest as you can while holding on the bottom of your foot. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Yoga can be an excellent way to relieve cramps if it is practiced diligently and the muscles are not forced into uncomfortable positions.
Hydration is a key factor in beating both leg cramping and RLS. Dehydration is one of the main causes of muscle cramps and spasms, especially in children and the elderly. Lack of sufficient water causes the muscles to hold on to lactic acid and toxins that naturally build up through every day use and exercise. Staying hydrated is especially important for those who sweat frequently.
Other Factors and Work-Arounds
Posture and the type of clothing that is worn is also a contributing factor to leg discomfort. As the legs are like tree trunks, they are one of the most crucial muscle groups and support the body daily through a wide variety of physical activities. Bad posture can lead to certain muscles having to do more work than other muscles, problems with proper blood-flow, pinched nerves, among other symptoms. For both RLS and cramping, having proper posture whether standing or sitting will help the body function as normal and relieve discomfort. Shoes also play a large part in both posture and pain in the legs. If you are wearing shoes that are uncomfortable, too small, or that have high heels, these could be the cause of both cramping and RLS. Inappropriate shoes that cause discomfort will have a chain reaction with other muscles in the body, especially the legs. Since the muscles will be in a constant state of tension while wearing the shoes, once they are finally able to relax, there will be frequent muscle spasms. Wearing them on a consistent basis can cause nerve damage or worsen an existing condition which will lead to or exacerbate RLS. Wearing orthopedic shoes or inserts is an easy fix to this situation. Relief from Nightly Leg Cramps and the Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms can be handled naturally.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Because RLS is caused by nerve problems, beating it is slightly more difficult. Orthopedics and doctors recommend supplementing vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to help. Iron supplements can often help relieve symptoms of RLS as those who suffer from the disease tend to be low in iron.
Changing dietary habits is also a highly natural and effective way to combat RLS. Physicians suggest that cutting out gluten, MSG, and especially watching high-sodium foods will help symptoms of RLS. Eating more fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods is the easiest way to eliminate potentially harmful ingredients. There have even been some instances where eating too much sugar can add to RLS symptoms, especially if those who have RLS also have arthritis, diabetes, or a thyroid disorder.
Stretching Leg Muscles
The main symptom of RLS is having a very strong urge to move the legs, often at night. Stretching is one of the most effective remedies for this problem. Moving the legs with stretching or other gentle movements eases the uncomfortable, irresistible urge to move the legs. Adopting a regular stretching routine before bedtime may help keep restless legs syndrome from occurring. Doing gentle stretching regularly may also to help ward off as well as to treat existing problems. Stretch your calf muscles by standing a little more than 2 feet away from a wall. Keeping heels on the floor, lean toward the wall until you feel a stretch in the calf muscles. Hold, release, and repeat until both calves have gotten a solid stretch. Make these routines a part of your daily habit to ensure the best quality sleep possible.
Restless Leg Syndrome can cause unnecessary stress on the person who suffers from it. Experts suggest that a natural way to eliminate that extra stress is to distract attention away from worry about the condition and into something more positive. By working on crossword puzzles, reading, or some form of activity that intellectually stimulates the brain right before bed, RLS sufferers have reported experiencing fewer symptoms and having a sufficient night’s rest.
Meditation is a powerful tool for RLS and has been shown to help leg cramping, as well. Stress reduction techniques or habits that are used right before bed can also help lessen or even eliminate RLS altogether. Doctors suggest that while lying in bed, try slow breathing and focusing on relaxing each individual muscle of the body. Although shaking and other symptoms may occur, the point is to relax and continue with the meditation process which will usually lessen the tremors. Another technique is to use calming and soothing music which distracts the mind and takes attention away from RLS. Should the problem persist, there is a meditation program designed for RLS sufferers called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) that have been proven to reduce symptoms over a 6-week period of time.