4 Moves to Loosen up Your Lower Half If You’re Dealing With Restless Legs

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If you have restless legs syndrome, you know the feeling: It's been a long day and all you can imagine doing is settling on the couch to catch up on your fave Netflix show. As soon as you sit down, your legs start tingling and aching and then your blissful TV sesh is interrupted by the fact that your legs are screaming at you to move around. Sound familiar? "Restless legs syndrome is ultimately a slightly impulsive and erratic electrical signal in the lower nerves of the spine," says Eric Goodman, DC, chiropractor and creator of Foundation Training. "Symptoms often worsen as you get neurologically tired, so typically it’s worse at the end of the day, and of course, while you’re trying to sleep."

You can still take actionable steps to help ease the urge to move. "It's very important to continue to work out when you have restless legs syndrome, but it's even more important to not overexert yourself or push yourself hard. You should only do you exercise to a point where you don't feel aches or fatigue, and avoid overtraining the muscles," says Nonna Gleyzer, founder of Los Angeles-based Pilates studio, Body By Nonna.

That means low impact workouts that don't involve a lot of repetitions are great options since they don't over-fatigue your muscles (which can aggravate the symptoms). Gleyzer also suggests exercise like restorative yoga, stretching, or light walking since they can help relax your nervous system and calm the body. It's best to do options that are lower in repetition and lower intensity (like Pilates) that let you control your resistance so you don't tax your muscles too much. So even though your favorite HIIT routine or spin class may be out, you can still keep moving with a carefully curated routine.

Try these 4 stretches to help open up your lower half

For best results, Gleyzer advises doing this routine in the morning and in the afternoon (especially after sitting all day at work) versus later into the evening.

1. Calf raise and stretch: "This exercise not only stretches your calf but also isolates and works the muscle. You're also stretching the Achilles tendon with this move," says Gleyzer. "First stand with your left leg forward and your right leg slightly behind you. Lift both of your arms above your head and reach upward, lifting your energy upward to the ceiling. This helps you balance the pelvic floor and engage your stomach muscles. Raising your arms above your head also helps improve blood circulation while you complete the move. Keep your weight even on both feet, and lift your back heel up and lower. Do this move three to five times, and then switch legs."

2. Lunge with quad and hamstring stretch: "Going into the lunge position helps stretch the quad and also is a deep opening stretch for the hip flexor," explains Gleyzer. "Start in a lunge position with your left leg forward and your right shin down. Place your hands on either side of your left foot to support you as you move. Slowly rock forward and back, holding the stretch for three seconds in each direction), stretching your quad and hamstrings as you move in each direction. Complete five to eight times and then switch legs."

3. Standing full quad stretch: "This move fully stretches the quad muscle while also engaging the abs and glutes," says Gleyzer. "Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your abs and lift one leg towards your bottom and hold for three to five seconds and release. When you pull your heel towards your bottom, be sure to engage the abdominals and squeeze the glutes. Repeat three to five times on each leg."

4. Inner thigh and hamstring stretch: "This move stretches and opens the hamstrings and inner thighs. As you lift up you're also engaging the oblique muscles," says Gleyzer. "Come to a seated position with one leg straight and extending out to the side and the other bent in towards you. Slowly lift up and bend your upper body forward over your outstretched leg, reaching for your shin or toes. Complete five to ten times and switch legs."

Speaking of stretching, here are 4 ways to stretch your neck when it's feeling tight. And check out these tips to prevent overstretching (yes, it can happen.)

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