Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common, sensorimotor, circadian sleep disorder characterized by the urge to move the legs. Abnormal sensations that start at rest but are improved by activity, symptoms are often worse at night with improvement in the morning (Romenets and Postuma 2013).
Soft Tissue Therapy and the treatment/management of RLS
When treating RLS, it is always advisable to first seek the patients Doctors approval. The medical community regards restless legs syndrome as a condition that can be managed, but not necessarily cured. In general, the therapeutic approach is dependent on improvement of the primary condition and the severity of the RLS.
In their study Russell (2007) found that soft tissue therapy progressively increased the subject’s quality of life by allowing her to feel more rested and get more work done, she also reported that the effects of massage reduced symptoms of RLS. The results of this study revealed two improvements: a reduction in restless leg symptoms and the unforeseen result of warmer feet.
If medications are not used, most healthcare providers advise one or more of the following approaches:
Soft tissue therapy is one of the most well known approaches for helping RLS. Concentrating on the lower half of the body with special attention to releasing the piriformis muscle typically yields dramatic improvement in symptoms. Increasing circulation in the hamstrings can also relieve uncomfortable sensations in the legs. However, beware that deep relaxation may aggravate the condition.
Some favoured modalities for preventing the energetic accumulation common with RLS are myofascial release, trigger point therapy, deep tissue massage and sports massage techniques. Although there is no surefire way to get rid of RLS, soft tissue therapy is one of the most effective ways to deliver relief and reinstate a healthy sleep schedule.
Although the symptoms can be different for each person affected, most people with RLS experience the following:
It is important to differentiate primary and secondary RLS from other conditions, which can mimic the symptoms of RLS, in particular neuropathy and cramps. However, despite considerable advances, the understanding of RLS pathophysiology remains incomplete. According to Romenets and Postuma (2013) there is insufficient evidence at the moment to recommend changes in lifestyle, nutritional supplements and any specific no pharmacologic treatments.
Although family history and high caffeine ingestion may cause RLS, the aetiology is unknown in most cases. Restless legs syndrome can also be a secondary problem, brought on by other conditions. Examples include:
If you want to book an appointment with Shaun or another member of our soft tissue therapy team, follow the link or call your preferred clinic.
Cutler, N. (2007) 5 Bodywork Tips for Restless Legs Syndrome, Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies, online 2017; http://www.integrativehealthca…
Romenets, S. Postuma, R. (2013) Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome, Current Treatment Options in Neurology, 15 (4), pp. 396 – 409
Russell, M. (2007) Massage therapy and restless legs syndrome, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 11, pp. 146 – 15