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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First of all – I am NOT a running coach and this is NOT meant to be advice for how to be faster or a “better” runner; this is my opinion (based on personal experience with knee pain as well as my work with countless knee pain clients) on how to run without knee pain. That’s it.
If you love running and your goal is simply to enjoy running again without knee pain…this post is for YOU.
Running this way might make you slower (or faster), it might feel awkward or fantastic…I leave it entirely up to you to try this as an experiment – and then run this way or not.
Changing how I run (and taking care of my fascia in general) helped me run again after 8 YEARS of not being able to. Personally, I don’t care how fast I run as long as I’m out there bouncing on a trail again without knee pain!
One more quick disclaimer: this post is NOT meant to address knee pain in general. I’m specifically addressing knee pain that only seems to show up while you are running. If you get knee pain while running and it stops as soon as you stop running, then this post applies to you. If you have knee pain 24/7, there are likely other things going on and this post may not apply to you.
What causes knee pain while running?
While there are certainly many causes and types of knee pain, the vast majority of the time knee pain while running has a basic pattern.
Most of the time knee pain while running shows up on the lateral (out)side of the joint, and feels like a knife stabbing you under the kneecap. That sharp excruciating pain can bring you to the ground as the knee gives out.
A lot of people like to blame the IT Band. Understandable, given the IT Band’s size and the fact that it attaches laterally at the distal (far) end of the kneecap.
However, it has been my experience that the IT Band is 3rd in line as the cause, behind two other major players that contribute far more to both the cause and the reversal of this pattern.
Meaning…addressing these two other things often makes the IT Band issue obsolete. Not always, but very often.
The first major cause is fascial restriction (often in the form of huge knots the size of golf balls) in the lateral upper calf or gastrocnemius muscle.
The second major cause (both of these should be considered together), is the fascial restriction within the hamstrings, particularly the biceps femoris where the long and short head meet and where the long head meets the IT Band.
Often there are GRAPEFRUIT sized lumps of inflamed irritated fascia stuck between the IT Band and the hamstring. Please note that these adhesions are NOT within the IT Band OR hamstring muscles themselves, but rather…it is the fascia that wraps both muscle groups that is stuck BETWEEN these muscles (essentially the ITB and hamstring muscles are adhesed together via giant knots of dehydrated or inflamed fascia and all of that tissue is no longer able to GLIDE through movement).
(DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ROLL YOUR ITB TO SOLVE THIS ISSUE!)
It’s also a distinct possibility that your hamstrings are weak, if you sit at a desk all day and don’t intentionally work on strengthening that posterior chain.
All of this creates a powerful force that pulls the ITB and lateral knee ligaments even more laterally, which can cause the patella to slip off the bursa and create a bone on bone feeling (which I believe is that sharp knife-like pain in the knee).
What does this have to do with running?
Many runners use a short quick gait that emphasizes extensive use of the quads and quad hip flexors as well as the calves to create forward movement. This is especially true of trail runners, even more so distance trail runners. The other common stride I see (mostly in marathoners or road runners who run for time on mostly flat surfaces) is to have a long thrusting forward stride that uses extreme hip flexion followed by knee extension that happens in FRONT of them, causing a hard heel strike that forces the knee joints to stabilize their body through the entire run.
The first scenario I described above is certainly the most common, and if you are a barefoot runner or toe striker and your heel barely or doesn’t even touch the ground while running then you are especially likely to create fascial restrictions in your calves.
What all this does while running is put your hip and knee joints into a near-constant state of flexion, and all that overuse of the already restricted fascia within the upper lateral gastrocs combined with fascially restricted WEAK hamstrings (which probably aren’t tight from overuse but actually under-use, especially if you sit at a desk all day with bent knees and contracted/weak hamstrings and run with your quads and calves) means near constant tension on the lateral fascia of the knee joint, including all the tendons, ligaments and bursa.
The IT Band is supposed to stabilize us through sports like running, but its job becomes increasingly difficult with these fascial restrictions constantly pulling it off track (laterally and posterior), combined (possibly, if your foot strikes in front of you) with a gait that doesn’t allow for hip stabilization and instead relies on the knees for that, and to top it all off…so many people are now foam rolling the bejeezus out of their IT Bands in an attempt to change all of this, but the IT Band actually NEEDS to be extremely tight from hip to knee since it is made up mostly of dense fascia (it’s basically a giant tendon) whose job it is TO STAY TIGHT AND KEEP US STABLE. While the fascial adhesions between the ITB and hamstring DO need releasing (strategically), I’m not a fan WHATSOEVER of rolling out the IT Band from knee to hip.
Take a closer look at the knee joint and surrounding muscles.
Now imagine someone tugging on the lateral upper calf tissue while also tugging at the hamstring and ITB tendons that attach to the knee and patellar tendon (the “balls” or knots of fascia are doing the “tugging”); these two things pull everything laterally and posterior, possibly taking the patella with it, creating a nice set-up for bone on bone action unless released from this pattern.
What reverses all of the above as far as running is concerned is reversing the muscle patterns that lead to these restrictions while running, and changing where our foot strikes the ground.
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: