Restless leg syndrome affects 3 million people every year in America alone. This condition is still really mysterious to the medical community, with “no known cure.”
Typical experiences of people who have restless leg syndrome are an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, a “twitchy” feeling like something is crawling on or inside your legs and it seems to affect people age 40 and older a lot more than those of younger age.
Stefan surprised me with this topic…the first episode in a new series we’re trying out for Mobility Mastery Monday: Pop Q&A! I have no idea what he’ll ask me before we start filming these episodes, and we just take it from there.
What if restless leg syndrome could go away fast?
Why does it seem so mysterious to modern science and the medical community?
What the heck is restless leg syndrome anyway?
I am NOT a doctor, and this isn’t intended as medical advice, nor is it meant to diagnose or cure anyone. I offer some of my experience and opinions.
What if your legs are simply twitchy and restless?
What if there’s a reason for this?
What if you could get relief today?
Watch the video below to learn more, and then please share and comment!
If you have restless leg syndrome and want to find out if fascial release can help, my top recommendations are releasing your hamstring and calf fascia.
Here’s my hamstring self-help technique using a lacrosse ball and weight plate:
Below is the overall BEST lower leg compartment and calf release technique:
If you can’t get into the position of the above technique, try this calf release instead:
Please share this post if you know anyone struggling with restless leg syndrome, and if you have comments or questions drop them below!
If you enjoyed this new version of Q&A Monday and have a question that you’d like us to feature and me to answer, please send your questions to email@example.com so he can surprise me with them.
See ya next time 🙂
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So you bought yourself a shiny new foam roller or lacrosse ball (or other mobility tools), or maybe you’ve had these for a while…but you’re not sure you’re doing things correctly, or enough, or maybe you’re wondering if you’re OVER doing it?
The video has it all, but here’s a recap of my 5 tips for the best self fascial release sessions:
1. How OFTEN should you be foam rolling?
This is fairly personal, or individual – meaning some people will need more while other people need less. I’m about to give you some guidelines, but no matter what I tell you I encourage you to LISTEN to your body, because it will tell you how much is enough (and the other 4 tips today will help you know what it’s telling you).
Generally speaking, for fascia health maintenance (meaning, there’s nothing ‘wrong,’ you’re not working on an injury or pain pattern) I suggest 2-3 times per week. If you just loooove your foam roller and want to do more, by all means do more.
If you ARE working on recovering from an injury or using fascial release to get yourself out of pain, then you could go after your target areas ONCE PER DAY for a week or two. Max. You do NOT need to do twice a day – if you do, chances are you’ll get pretty sore.
You certainly do not need to do your entire body every day.
2. Should you feel sore or get bruised doing this work?
The short answer is NO.
If you were in my office getting worked on by me I’d tell you that about 1 in 30 people get sore (even though what I do is FAR more intense than a foam roller or lacrosse ball). Given I’m not in your living room or gym with you and can’t control what you’re doing or HOW you’re doing it, chances are greater with self work that you might get a little sore from this.
If you’re doing things CORRECTLY, you should NEVER get sore OR bruised.
If you ARE getting sore, here are some things to check:
Are you using a super hard or knobby roller? That can often cause soreness or bruising. I recommend starting with a SOFT foam roller, and maybe you’ll stick with that forever. You can work up to a harder roller but I never ever recommend the knobby ones for fascial release work.
If you’re using a lacrosse ball, are you digging it into your tissue trying to give yourself a deep tissue massage? If so, you can definitely get sore or bruised. To do this correctly you want to PIN an area of your body TO the lacrosse ball (often needing to use your other hand to hold it steady) while another part of you moves. You’re trying to pin and stretch/release the fascia, NOT dig into it.
Are you spending too much time on one spot? This can often make you sore – see tip #5 for more on this.
I do not endorse or advocate that bruising is a good thing UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. It’s not the end of the world if it does happen, but in my private practice I avoid it at all costs (and only 4-5 people have ever bruised from my work since 2008 and it was only in small areas like the tops of the feet). I want you to avoid looking like you’ve been beaten up too! This is my personal and professional opinion and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who disagree with me, and that’s ok.
Here’s why I feel so strongly about this:
A BRUISE – meaning, a red, black and blue or yellow/green spot – is a soft tissue injury called a contusion. What causes the discoloration are small capillaries and blood vessels that have BURST and spilled their blood into the surrounding tissues. Those capillaries and blood vessels are DAMAGED. Thankfully, our body has a brilliant way of dealing with this by sending in hormones to contain the bleeding and heal the damaged tissue, so a bruise isn’t something to freak out about. However, the reason I want you to avoid bruises is because even IF you are creating some good through whatever method caused the bruising – you’ve also caused some (or a LOT) of damage. Inflammation is likely to occur, and if it’s a really bad bruise it might hurt so much you won’t want to be as active (which sucks), or it might take as much as a week or two to heal fully.
I’ve been using my body weight (sometimes all 145lbs of me) stepping on people since 2008, and soreness and bruising are NOT common. It is NOT a necessary part of healing fascia.
If you’re suffering with a strained or pulled hip flexor or groin muscle, this post is for YOU – find out why they happen and more importantly what to do about it.
Unlike other common strains, this area doesn’t follow my typical theory on strains being a symptom of reciprocal inhibition issues between two opposing muscle groups. This injury happens (in my opinion) due to the upper and lower thigh muscles working at odds with each other. Let me explain.
We have a LOT of muscles that flex the hip:
The psoas and iliacus (or iliopsoas), rectus femoris (a quadriceps muscle), sartorius, tensor fascia latae, pectiuneus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus and gracilis.
MOST of these muscles perform other actions as well, such as adduction, abduction (TFL) and knee extension.
A strained or pulled hip flexor most often occurs in dancers, martial artists, runners (especially sprinters or mountain runners who do a lot of uphill work) and soccer, football and hockey players.
What all of these sports have in common:
A LOT of quad dominance! It’s also likely during these sports that you’re asking those muscles of the thigh to both flex the hip AND extend the knee, sometimes at the same time or one after the other with a lot of power (think of kicking a soccer ball, or a jump kick in martial arts).
Of course you can absolutely experience a pulled or strained hip flexor without being one of these athletes, and the cause/solution will likely still be the same.
NO injury, unless traumatic or due to a fall or sudden impact, occurs in isolation or is due to ONE thing you do. Even if the pain comes on suddenly, in all likelihood there’s been a slow build-up of something that has made an injury likely to occur.
It is my opinion that in this case, that something is overworked and fascially restricted lower quad tissue – where the rectus femoris fascia gets stuck to the fascia of vastus intermedius and vastus medialis (two other quad muscles), and starts to pull the adductors, sartorius and gracilis towards the quads – making these muscles less able to do their job without straining to do so.
The strain or pulled muscle occurs when we ask the hip flexors and knee extensors to work simultaneously or in rapid succession. And here is where reciprocal inhibition does come into play for a moment – in order to “cock” or wind up the hip flexor and knee extensor muscles, they need to lengthen or stretch (like stretching a bow back before letting the arrow loose).
Since there is so much fascia and muscle restriction within the quads, including the quadriceps tendon which attaches to the knee joint, the brain detects the possibility of a tear happening, and in the few split seconds it takes to wind those muscles up (aka stretch them) your body starts to enact a stretch reflex by pulling the hip flexor muscles back, and since you’re already getting ready to contract them powerfully – BAM! When you do = major muscle contraction, major strain, major pain.
This scenario is different than a typical strain because it occurs within the muscle group that IS the problem, rather than its opposite.
What’s the solution?
Release that lower quad restriction!
EVERY single person I’ve worked on since 2008 that has had this issue (which includes a LOT of Jiu Jitsu people, soccer and dance athletes) has had a huge knot of restricted fascia here.
The picture on right shows the area you’re looking to target – rectus femoris and where that quad muscle meets the vastus medialis (and intermedius, which is under rectus femoris).
The video above shows you what to look for, what to do and how to do it.
If going after the lower quad doesn’t get you the desired result, especially if you have a pulled GROIN muscle (vs high/top of the quad area), then your next best bet is to go after your low adductor fascia. You’ll also be looking for a knot there. Click here to go to my post and video for this technique.
If that doesn’t get it to 100%, try releasing your TFL. Click here for that post and video.
How to get the BEST and fastest results:
Chances are high that if you’re experiencing this injury your low to mid quad fascia has a giant knot in it. Spend as much time as necessary hunting around to either rule this in or out. If you’ve found a giant knot, then…
Spend 20-40 seconds on EACH SPOT (start on the LOWEST SPOT and move up but do NOT go past your mid thigh), moving your lower leg back and forth to “shear” the fascia and release it.
There will likely be 2-3 spots within this low to mid quad area. More than likely it’s the same “knot” or adhesion, you’re just attacking it from every possible angle.
If this is an acute injury (meaning it JUST happened within a few days of you finding your way here), I would do this once a day for a week.
If you click to the other blog posts, PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE POST but especially the “How to get the most out of this technique” section at the bottom.
DO NOT USE A KNOBBY FOAM ROLLER FOR THIS! You will likely bruise your tissue and it will suck so much you may never want to use a foam roller again! I generally advocate using a soft or standard black foam roller. If you need help figuring out which foam roller is right for you, click here.
And THAT is it folks! Grab your foam roller and give this a try. Please comment with your experience or questions!
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This area of the body warrants a close look at the anatomy, while the technique itself is very simple.
This one small area, when fascially restricted, can wreak havoc on the entire foot, ankle, heel, plantar fascia and quite possibly a lot of things upstream as well, such as knees, the groin, the SI area and possibly even your neck and head (headaches CAN sometimes be related to this line of fascia being too tight/restricted).
We’re not going to look at the entire body or ALL the ways this one area can impact the body.
Today I want to focus on 3 main things: plantar fasciitis and/or heel pain that is showing up directly in line with the flexor digitorum longus and tibialis posterior tendons, and how this area plays a part in rolling ankles.
You’ll need a lacrosse ball for this one. I do NOT recommend using any other ball, nor do I recommend a theracane (I’ve seen some people use this). The first is too big, and the second too pointed and you’ll likely bruise (something I’m always trying to avoid).
This one small area packs a punch, fascially speaking:
There’s a lot going on in this one small area: the medial head of the gastrocnemius along with the soleus (meidal) and their fascia can get stuck to each other and to the flexor digitorum longus fascia. The flexor digitorum longus, when over-tight (or stuck to other muscles via their connecting fascia), can over-invert the foot, making the ankle susceptible to being rolled.
Also potentially leading to over-inversion of the foot is tibialis posterior, and via its tendon can contribute to ankle pain or heel pain between the ankle and calcaneus.
While we won’t necessarily be getting it directly, this technique can help free up the tibialis posterior, particularly the posterior tibialis TENDON which has a big impact on heel and ankle health.
If you have flat feet, fallen arches or your foot drops (arch collapses) while walking, this is one area to look at (it may not be the culprit) along with everything in the lateral line – ankle and foot fascia, tibialis anterior, perroneals, IT Band fascia etc.
The relationship these two (the medial and lateral lines of fascia) have with one another can determine SO much of what happens in our bodies, because everything in the foot and ankle determines our stride and what happens upstream. If your ankle doesn’t articulate well or creates an unhealthy gait pattern, that pattern transfers up to the knees, hips and shoulders.
As usual around here, I’m less concerned with naming all the muscles involved than talking about the restricted fascia between and around all these muscles.
Fascia also wraps our bones, and I believe this is one area of the body where the fascia of these muscles is particularly clogged or stuck to the bone (in this case the tibia).
The technique I demonstrate in the video isn’t nearly as effective as the in person version that I use on clients, but it’s an acceptable self-help solution (or I wouldn’t be giving it to you).
My wish for each and every one of us this year is that we learn to trust our body, listen to its messages and in doing so become unstoppable.
I love that word – unstoppable – because to me it means that no matter what, we are committed to feeling our best and doing what we love. It does NOT mean being reckless or stupid and pushing our body past its limits only to become sidelined for months. It does not mean we are so superhuman we never have pain.
Being unstoppable means we’re committed to doing what we love, and when pain does rear its head, we know how to figure out what is going on and give our body what it needs as quickly as possible so we can get back out there to our trails, ski slopes, mountaintops or the simple joys of playing with the kids in our lives without worry.
One of your secret weapons against all those aches, pains and injuries is going to be your trusty foam roller.
The question I’ve been asked the most is:
“What kind of foam roller should I buy?”
This episode is for all of you struggling to decide which one is right for you.
If you’ve already figured out the best foam roller for yourself but you know someone else wondering what to buy…share this post and help a friend out.
It’s all right there in the video, but if you want a little more help in deciding…
*This technique was originally featured in a testimonial blog post but I decided it needed its own post.
If you have IT Band issues, you’ll love (ok maybe love/hate!) this technique.
Your IT Band actually needs to be “tight” to a certain degree. For a little more on this and why I’m not a fan of rolling your IT Band like most people do from hip to knee with a straight leg, see this post.
The IT Band is comprised mostly of fascia. In fact it’s more like a giant tendon than a muscle! But it IS a muscle, and because it has so much fascia in it…it is very prone to fascial adhesions (lumps or balls of soft tissue strands all stuck together), sometimes the size of grapefruits!
When these adhesions become too large or tight it can result in inflammation of the IT Band itself, as well as knee pain, hip pain and other issues. In order to create permanent change and release these fascial adhesions for good we need to PIN, stretch and release them through compression and movement that breaks them up. We want to give that ITB fascia the SPACE it needs to function well.
If you suffer from ITBS go get your foam roller right now, try this and see if you don’t feel immediate relief!
If you have a severe case of ITBS or if you’re a runner, you may want to add this to your weekly mobility and injury prevention arsenal. I like to use this before every run because it creates more “spring” and I not only feel like a better runner but a faster one.
Maybe you know what it’s like…you’re out there on a trail or path, flying like you always do when suddenly your knee gives out and a shot of stabbing pain nearly takes you to the ground. Weird. That’s never happened before. You’re able to finish your run and the pain stops when you do. So you keep stepping out your door to do this thing you love so much. But next time it’s worse. You rest a week and try again; and this time the pain starts right away instead of at mile 4. Some people complain about the pain of running, but not you…you thrive on it! The pain that will stop you from running is the pain you fear the most.
This post is dedicated to all you runners out there!
I know what it is like to be stopped from running due to pain (knee pain specifically). In fact, my knee pain stopped me from running for 8 YEARS. It wasn’t until I found the right kind of fascial release (and knowing what to target), that I was able to fix my knee pain. Now I can trail run and climb mountains pain-free (I even run DOWN mountains with zero pain!) My pain seemed to originate more in my calf, but I think the IT Band played a part as well, as it does for a lot of runners.
I recently got an email testimonial that I have to share. Her story is incredible and I think it will help some of you who are struggling with ITBS, or Iliotibial Band Syndrome.
I’m also going to share my “Ultimate IT Band Release” technique. If you want to skip straight to the technique video and tips, scroll down.
My name is Rachael, and I absolutely HAVE to share my little story with you, mainly because, it involves you.
I started running last year in April. I found a running group (Moms Run This Town) and that was all she wrote- I was off like a mad woman running my life away. For the first time, I found something I was good at. I started doing races and loved running even more. By September, I had already run 6 half marathons, and close to 700 miles, and had signed up to do my first full marathon at Big Sur the following April. I was really out of control. In October I ran The Rock N Roll half in San Jose, and a week later made a last minute decision to take someones bib for the Nike half; this turned out to be the worst decision I could have made as a still new runner. 3 days after Nike, I could barely walk. My knee pain was so bad, and stand-to- sit was killing me. My running was totally sidelined.
After I tried to run with a friend in November the pain was too much, and she recognized the symptoms from her own issue- ITBS. I was in denial, but saw a sports chiro to see if he could help. Of course he confirmed the ITBS diagnoses and had me coming to see him for ART therapy three times a week at $90 a pop. I did this for 5-6 weeks knowing my marathon training was starting in January. Eventually he ok’d me to run, but the pain came back. Next I went to see an orthopedic surgeon, and again I was told the IT band was super tight. He sent me to physical therapy, and again I spent hundreds of dollars. Meanwhile my training had started and I had to really modify my plan- by God, I was not going to miss my race! Week after week I went to PT and got no relief. Next we did cortisone treatments, they didn’t even help a little. I stretched, I rolled, I used a tens-unit, I iced, I did squats and lunges for my weak glutes and hips, I changed shoes, I got inserts, I read hundreds of articles on the internet….You name it I did it. Nothing helped, but I kept training anyways.
I ran my marathon, and I will never forget that experience. Both knees blew out at mile 22 and I had to walk the last 4 miles. However, Big Sur is the most beautiful race and I am glad I did it. When I got home, my ortho suggested PRP treatments and I figured, hell, why not. We did two of those. I took 4 months off and just barely started running again in late August. Much to my disappointment, the pain and the swelling in the IT band came back. I decided to give up on running, clearly nothing could heal this injury.
Then about 6-7 weeks ago, my friend from the running group posted one of your videos, not the IT band one, but what ever it was I watched it, which displayed links to your other videos in the corner. Then I saw it- the IT band foam rolling video by you. I figured I’d check it out and try it. I was well aware of the two HUGE knots in along the IT band, so when I saw your method it made sense, so I gave it a go. OMG- I writhed in pain, it hurt so bad, more than ART hurt- and that was painful. I tried your way again later that night, and then every day for the rest of the week. The knots became more movable- like I was able to massage them with my thumbs and get them to move around. I decided to go for a run, a simple 5k in the neighborhood it was pain free.. Hmm, weird. So I kept up your method after runs, once in the morning and once at night. I ran some more, no swelling, no pain- NOTHING. This week I really pushed my limits, I did some trail runs, on major hills in this area, I was expecting the worst the next morning on both days- but nothing happened.
Is it a coincidence? Did it heal on it’s own? How could something so simple fix this? How could your video change everything? Doctors and PT’s and chiropractors couldn’t fix it, how could this simple rolling technique do it? I am still in disbelief, I keep waiting for the pain to return, but I also keep rolling. The knots are still there, they are still big, but somehow it’s different.
So the point of all of this? From me to you- THANK YOU. For something so simple, for some video free on the internet that has given me the gift of running again! I am pain free and increasing my miles.. I am at a loss for words other than thank you. What ever you have here- you should sell it because quite frankly it works.
You will forever be my hero! Thank you so much for this gift!!
Do you have lateral knee pain, restless leg syndrome, plantar fasciitis, low back pain or get hamstring cramps after sitting too long?
This post is for YOU!
What do all of these things have in common? The HAMSTRING fascia.
When our hamstring fascia gets too restricted laterally (that biceps femoris fascia can often get stuck to the IT Band fascia), it can pull on the patella (kneecap), causing lateral knee pain.
If you have lateral knee pain, my recommendation is to use this technique in conjunction with my calf release for knee pain. You’ll want to find the lateral tightness more-so than the belly of the hamstrings. Note in the video where I place the ball. You’ll want to copy that!
If your entire hamstrings are really tight, this can pull on all the calf tissue causing “restless leg syndrome” (which I believe is just that fascia feeling cramped and getting tugged on).
If you have restless leg syndrome, this is my #1 go-to technique for you:
Possible SIDE EFFECTS of using the above technique:
Feeling more FREEDOM and space in your legs
More efficient/better running, cycling, hiking, dancing, Oly lifting (etc)
Reduced low back pain
Freed up hamstrings
Relief from piriformis /glute pain and inhibited glutes
Relief from pulled or tight hip flexor muscles
Relief from groin pain
Relief from hip pain
Less knee pain
A freed up and more balanced PELVIS (which can lead to less mid back and neck pain and a more even walking or running gait, not to mention better DANCE MOVES! And who doesn’t want that!?)
To get the MOST out of this technique PLEASE READ THE FULL POST (better results if you do!)
If there was ONE area of the body I would have everyone dedicate time to, regardless of issue and even if you don’t have ANY pain, it would be the quads.
You can probably guess why…
We are a HUGELY quad dominant society (in western culture). We sit at desks all day starting in 1st grade all the way through college and most jobs in America are desk jobs. All this sitting sets us up to have tight fascia in our quads no matter how active or inactive we are.
On top of that, most of our sports are quad dominant: soccer, football, gymnastics (that was me), cycling, dancing, running (unless you know how to run using your hamstrings and glutes, and if you do – congratulations!)
One of the MOST powerful tools in the fascia release arsenal: Knowing How to Release the Quads
Most people I know experience this at least once in their life (if not repeatedly): pain between the shoulder blades. It can feel like a ball is stuck there, or it can feel like a sharp knife, or maybe it only hurts through certain ranges of motion or when you’re sleeping. Whatever the case may be, it’s NO FUN right? But it IS reversible!
Keep in mind, what I’m about to give you isn’t a full solution, but it should still provide some good relief (and some of you may get full relief).
Quick question: How’s your posture?!
Are your shoulders forward rotated? Are you hunched over at a desk all day or are you constantly bent over looking at your phone? Tsk tsk! (Hey I’m guilty of the phone thing too, but do my best to avoid it because it wreaks HAVOC on the cervical spine!)
The good news is, all of these things are avoidable through posture correction, by moving your computer to eye level (or better yet get a standing desk!) and holding your phone at eye level (hey, you might look like an old lady/man but you’ll avoid putting a 60 POUND pressure on your cervical spine!)
The more you can do to AVOID these bad posture habits, the better off you’ll be long-term.
Ok, moving on to what you can do right now to get some relief.