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Runners.... Restless legs at night??

Alex T

Ideal_Rock
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Oct 24, 2012
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5,005
Hi all.

I run to keep fit & keep in shape. I have done this now for about 20 years since I lost an incredible amount of weight in my early 20's (just a smidge over 8 stone :-o)

I haven't been overweight since & gained very little weight with both my pregnancies - i was back in my jeans both times within 3 weeks. Various injuries over the years have meant a slow down in frequency or a break for Physio, such as a broken neck vertebrae & SPD during both pregnancies, which in itself went on to leave an unstable pelvis & 18 months ago a stress fracture.

I am now back at my previous running level, but have upped frequency over the last 2 months, going from running long distances twice a week, to running shorter distances every other day. AND I CAN'T SLEEP ANYMORE!!! My legs get SO achy & restless when I get into bed each evening & it's driving me mad. I hate it when the alarm goes off in the morning & I'm starting to feel weary, yawning all day long. I am about to go back to work for the first time in 7 years now that both my babies have started school, and even though the job is in a school & just for 10 hours a week, term time only, I am worried about feeling to fatigued.

Any tips or advice from regular runners out there? I warm up gently before & make sure I spend a lot of time stretching & cooling down my legs afterwards, but nothing helps??
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 3, 2013
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4,660
Are you certain it's the running that's causing the restless legs?
My DH has horrible restless legs some nights and it doesn't seem to correlate with his work outs (some times it does and some times it doesn't, which leads me to believe that it may not be related to his exercise routine). I can tell you that as the spouse of someone with restless legs at night, it's awful to deal with. His restless legs keep me up at night too and some nights it can be so frustrating (for both of us) :errrr:
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
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Nov 7, 2004
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6,350
You may want to go to a sleep specialist if it is a) really disturbing your sleep b) determine if it is really is restless legs (there is a related condition called periodic limb movements, and c) determine whether it is primary rls or caused by some other condition, and of course, treat it.

Restless legs can be associated with iron deficiency/low iron levels. Leg cramps can be caused by low potassium, magnesium. Could be just that your legs are achy (otc pain meds). Wouldn't hurt to try those first, as well as a hot bath, massage before bedtime.
 

sarahb

Brilliant_Rock
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Jul 20, 2012
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I am not in the medical profession, but have experienced RLS (restless leg syndrome) as well. Also workout consistently (swimming). Was told it can be traced to low levels of iron. I seem to go through phases where it is more present, other periods it is absent, right now is a good phase. Try talking a multi with iron, I do & seems to work. If you do take iron tablets, was advised a little bit goes a long way & remember they can slow down your digestive system! Good luck & hope you find a solution!

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/restless-legs-syndrome/what-is-rls/causes.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17566122

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/restless-legs-syndrome/basics/causes/con-20031101
 

chemgirl

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Sep 16, 2009
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Runners can be prone to low iron. That's where I'd look first.

I run about 3 miles 3-4 times per week and find that yoga helps with any pain that may develop after a run. I also do resistance training to build muscle, but that is more because of a knee injury. It seems to help my overall recovery time.

Goodluck!

Eta: If you do take iron, I recommend Proferrin because it doesn't have as many GI side effects as cheaper forms.
 

Alex T

Ideal_Rock
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Oct 24, 2012
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Thank you, everyone :wavey:

I have my iron tested twice a year due to having Von Willebrands Disease, so I am pretty on the ball with that one. I take an iron supplement, which is increased for the days I have my period (tmi - sorry!) and also another medication to stop the bleeding being too heavy on those days. It is usually always normal due to managing it.

I have suffered terribly with restless legs in the past, but can't remember what triggered it? I do remember it being a massive pita! Thankfully my husband passes out as soon as his head hits the pillow.

I think I'll try a hot bath tonight & see if it helps. Maybe some warm milk & paracetamol too, to help me node off whilst the aches are kept at bay! I'm pretty sure it's related to the running, as on a couple of occasions in the last few weeks I've skipped runs due to commitments with the children etc, so perhaps had a 3 day break, and have fallen asleep easily & ache free :rolleyes:
 

LLJsmom

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Oct 24, 2012
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Hi AlexT,

I apologize first if this is going to be too long. These are my suggestions. I've tried all these myself. A little back ground about me. I've been running for about 8 years, and just finished my 8th full marathon. When I am not training for an impending race, I run 20-25 miles a week. When I am training, I run 35-40 miles a week.

1. Since you are just getting back, are you resting between run days? If your legs are achy and tired so you that you can't sleep, I think you may not be resting enough between run days. As I've gotten older, I do notice I need more rest. I really felt 43. Now I run no more than 4 days a week. One long run on the weekends. If you are running back to back days of long runs, you are likely not giving your muscles enough rest.

2. After my most recent injury, which kept me sidelined for about 5 months, I have discovered the amazing recovery benefits of foam rolling with a knobby foam roller. Doing this for at least 20 minutes after every hard run make a huge difference the following day, which is when I feel the pain the most. The following is the one I use.

http://www.amazon.com/NewCell-Integ...8&qid=1452662905&sr=1-41&keywords=foam+roller

This is the one at my gym, and it is a miracle worker.
http://www.amazon.com/Foam-Roller-I...8&qid=1452662946&sr=1-90&keywords=foam+roller

Roll out everything, hamstrings, quads, calves, pelvis.

3. Are you getting enough electrolytes? If I go on runs longer than 12 miles, I will take salt pills. I take one before, and one at around mile 6, approximately one every 5-6 miles while training. This is the one I use. Helps greatly with reducing cramping and muscle fatigue. Are you getting enough potassium? You lose a lot when you sweat. Saltstick replaces not only salt, but the other necessary electrolytes too.
http://www.amazon.com/SaltStick-Ele...=1452663052&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=saltstick

4. I also have low iron, which is hereditary for me. Once you add long distance running to that, I'm basically screwed. I should take 3 iron supplements a day, and I usually take only one. Bad me. You should probably be taking iron supplements too, cause long distance running reduces iron significantly. Doesn't help that you're naturally low.

5. Do strength training, especially lower body, once to twice a week, on the no-run days. I would suggest weighted squats, lunges, and all the varieties thereof. Really helps to stabilize and strengthen those big muscles. Focus highly on your glutes too. You want to make sure you are activating your glutes when you run, which are your biggest muscle group, and not relying solely on your quads and hammies. They get over worked and extremely fatigued, tight, stressed. I have a sports therapist who does Active Release Technique on me once every couple of months to help release my tight, stressed muscles.

This is a DVD that has been around for years, but it is GREAT at giving your lower body a hard core workout. You will feel fatigued after this so I don't suggest running the day after. I would highly recommend resting the day after.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Firm-Scul..._UL160_SR113,160_&refRID=14H3B7RBE6XPTDCFD063

6. If you don't already, I would also suggest yoga once a week. I like bikram, but I would probably recommend a more relaxing, meditative, stretching kind of yoga for you, maybe hatha yoga.

Ok, sorry, so long winded. Hope some of these work for you. I am doing all of this right now, and I must to maintain a level of health that allows me to continue running. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
 

Alex T

Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
5,005
Thank you LLJ - you are a superstar! And a running Ninja!!

We do have a foam roller but I've never used it as it's my husbands. Must steal it. I never strength train my lower half, so this is something I should look into.

As for resting between runs, Erm.... That would be a no :D Two young children & a house / husband to look after - I am constantly rushed off my feet & must run up & down the stairs 100 times each day!

I had a hot bath last night & gave my legs a really good massage from top to bottom, then had paracetamol before bed. It did help :appl: I still had twitchy legs, but it stopped the aching & I felt too zonked to bother & soon fell asleep. I am having a rest day today as I have to Birthday shop for my youngest so I'm off out shortly, and I may rest tomorrow too as an experiment. Will keep you posted & thanks again for those links. I'll have a good look through later this evening.
 
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