How I resolve my (possible) rls

Years ago, when in bed, I sometimes got very strange, uncomfortable. very unpleasant feelings in my legs. Like when you hit your funny bone. My legs also jerked involuntarily. My then boyfriend told me to lie on my front like a seal ( can put cushions under my forearms), and to bend my back, backwards till I felt pressure in my lower back, i.e. below the waist. This pressure being the most important part. Hold it for 2 or 3 minutes. I did it and was then fine. And for 20yrs it has worked 100%. However, though it worked for me, it may not work for anyone else, and as it is a physical manoeuvre, I would suggest that anyone thinking of trying it, checked with their Dr/G.P. first, in case it causes more problems. In the first instance, however, If I sit up straight, at all times, all day, on chairs, the sofa, or when reading in bed, with a small firm pillow in the hollow of my back, I don't get it. So this could be tried.  I used to be a nurse, and I am very conscious of responsibility, so anyone needs medical advice before the back bending, as I am only saying it worked for me.

31 Replies

  • Thank you for sharing. I too find that lying on my stomach with my right leg bent helps alleviate the RLS. Jimeka 

  • Thanks for that. It might be too simple, but for the people who only get it at night  in bed, which seems to be most, ( in accordance with the diagnosis criteria),  you would think that the change in position is the cause, and so some other position should help.


  • As a few people have replied saying they find lying on their stomach helps, I am asking these people to try sitting totally straight, at all times, possibly with a firm cushion, except when sleeping, to see if this prevents it. It would be helpful if you would also like to do this, even though it may take weeks or longer , depending on how often people get it, and let me know how you get on.

  • Also, have you got a soft, medium or firm mattress.

  • Hi I know when my legs go ,my back In the middle aches right in the arch ,often wonder ,is that part of RLS or not ? because I find sometimes if I lay on the floor and push my back into the floor or hold the middle part of my back up it does releave everything and it's not imagination either 

  • Someone else also said pushing the back against the floor helped, and also arching the back. I have never tried pushing against, because arching has always worked. so it may be that various spine positions help. So thanks for that, and just out of interest I will try pushing my back against the floor the next time. However I only get it every couple of months or so, so it will be a while. However, till then, could you try sitting up very very straight 100% of the time, every day, and in bed, possibly against a firm cushion to see if that has  any effect, and let me know. (even though this is not something I like doing, or find particularly comfortable in itself) So thanks for your reply as I am very interested in positions people use.

  • But not sitting up when you are sleeping'

  • No I couldn't sit up when sleeping 

  • Also, have you got a soft, medium or firm mattress.

  • Hi I have a medium bed 

  • Thanks. Not asking for any reason, just in case a lot of people had soft or firm, and thought it might be a factor.

  • I too find lying on my stomach helps although I don't arch my back.  It varies how much relief I get but its one thing of the first things I try before leaving my warm bed! I wonder if it's something to do with nerve pathways?

  • This is what I believe, although it may be only for some people.  I never get out of bed, though how firm the mattress is, may be a factor. and depending on what yours' is like, your back may or may not slightly arch. Would you be able to try sitting up very very straight, possibly with a firm cushion, at all times, though not when sleeping. I don't particularly like this position, but if it has an effect on anyone, it is a start to looking for a cause, so thanks for the reply. 

  • Also, have you got a soft medium of firm mattress.

  • Hi jigglylegs does your back get sore in the middle to ,before your legs start

  • My back has been very bad lately a great deal of the time not just at night.

  • I wonder if we all get sore backs ? If that is a nerve pressing that would be worth investigating ,are your legs playing up during the day when you have a sore back 

  • I also find that lying on my front helps. I haven't tried the back arch, but will give it a go. It could be a nerve pathway thing as Jigglylegs mentions, or perhaps it's compression that helps?

    Anyhow if it works for you that's fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for getting back. I think it may  be nerve pressure in some people and the position helps, especially by holding it a few minutes. As I don't want anyone hurting their back, could you, as I have replied above, try sitting totally straight all the time, possibly with a small firm cushion, but not when sleeping. I don't particularly like doing it,  but as a start, to look at causes. Although some people get RLS more often than others so it will take a while to check. However, so far, a few people have found lying on your stomach helpful , although It may only help people with fairly mild, or infrequent, or in the early stages, I don't know. Anyway, I think if everyone that replies to me starts with sitting straight, and I mean totally straight, then we can only see how it goes. 

  • Also, have you got a soft, medium or firm mattress.

  • My mattress is soft, it was designed for me based on my weight. My hubby and l have different tensions on each side, mine soft his medium. We also bought a super King so l do not disturb him too much. Lol

  • Thanks. I don't want to complicate the issue, as I believe, for some people it is a posture/pressure issue, but as it mainly happens when people go to bed, I just wondered if the mattresses were all too soft or too hard, (like Goldilocks). One person has a medium, so it may be nothing to do with it. But thanks anyway.

  • Yep, since RLS has always been a lower back issue for me, this does definitely help me. I had bought a book where the author recommended just this, though he wasn't addressing RLS specifically but lower back pain. I thought this quote was interesting: "Fully 75 percent of the weight of the upper part of the body is supported by the water volume that is stored in the disc core; 25 percent is supported by the fibrous materials around the disc." In another book he wrote, How to Deal with Back Pain, he shows just what you're talking about with pillows under your thighs, and under your upper body to allow your stomach to reach the floor, putting the natural curve back in your lower spine and getting fluid into those discs. I have done this when RLS gives me trouble at night, and it does work for me. This author (Batmanghelidj) has a lot of interesting information about the role of water and why so many things can be treated by just drinking enough water, which most people don't. In my thinking, I just keep going back to natural reasons for RLS and what we're doing to ourselves that's causing this. I'd bet cultures untouched by western diet don't get RLS. I'd like to see a research paper or study on that one!

  • That is really interesting, as what I do is also putting the natural curve back in my back. I do however believe it could be due to bad posture during the day, and if I get RLS, bending my back, back,  is reversing this. Also, I am sure I don't get it if I sit up rigidly at all times, with a small firm cushion if necessary in the small of my back, and also in bed if reading,( but not sleeping). I have suggested to a few people to try this, as good posture is not something that could cause a problem, unlike using pillows with your stomach on the floor, like if you had e.g. arthritis in your spine. However, I don't particularly want to always sit bolt upright, so don't always care because if I get RLS at night, I can always get rid of it. Type of mattress may also be a factor. There could be many causes e.g. stretched muscle, stretched nerve, fluid on a nerve, pressure, etc, but I do think, like with you,  and other people who have replied saying lying on their stomach helps, that there is possibly a type of RLS that will respond to posture and positioning. Just about wrote a book myself there.

  • Well, if you don't actually write a book, you ought to at least write a blog post with what you have. Could help a lot of people!

  • You might have mentioned it but how long have you had RLS, which is described as the uncontrollable urge to move where you just have to jump out of bed and then it is immediately relieved until you lay back down again?

    You MUST continue your research.  There's always more than one way to approach a problem.  Scientists have found that people with primary RLS literally have no stored iron in their brains or very little.  So we rely heavily on that iron that is carried to our brains by our bloodstream.  Problem is the iron in our bloodstream drops off significantly at night and we end up with RLS.  Anyways, our brains are anemic and as a result our dopamine receptors are small and few.  That means at any given time there isn't much dopamine, a neurotransmitter, traveling down our spines (aka central nervous system) to our legs and arms (peripheral nervous system) to quiet them.  One problem downstream such as a spinal injury or disease can trigger RLS in someone who is predisposed to it.  The whole rest of the world can injure their spine and never feel a twinge of RLS, but not us.  Same is true for upstream events such as taking antihistamines, melatonin, antacids, or antidepressants.

    Back to your stretches, the medical community is buzzing right now with vagus nerve stimulation.  As you know the vagus nerve begins on either side of your neck and runs down to either side of your belly button.  I can't even begin to go into what it controls, what diseases are thought to be mediated by it and the dozens of ways to stimulate it.  They found through study that yoga is one way and that by doing so participants thalamic levels of Gaba were raised.  My point is, you may have found an excellent way to stimulate the vagus nerve and relieve RLS.  This is just one explanation.  Your stretch which it sounds like you do to fatigue, may simply be stretching the spine and allowing for better transmission of our pathetic drip of dopamine.

    We're counting on you :)

  • Thank you very much for that reply, and know there may be different causes. Mine started about 20yrs ago. One night in bed I got very strange feelings and jerkiness. I can't even remember what I did next, but my boyfriend at the time, who had and has mild scoliosis, told me to lie down, bend back, until I got pressure in the lower back, and hold for a few minutes. Don't know where he got this from, maybe a physiotherapist or something. After that, it was gone, straight away, so I have never really suffered from it. Did, and still do, this position immediately. If however, I had not done it, the sensations would have been literally, unbearable. And I am sure I would have been jumping around, trying anything. The position I do, I believe, is relieving pressure, or stretched muscle, or who knows, due to slouching. I noticed I got it more when lying in bed with a curved spine reading, so now try to sit up straight all the time except when sleeping. Because I believe this helps, and cannot do any harm, this is why I am suggesting it. Also however, when you replied to Ellamarshals, you said that good posture was no bad thing, so I am taking this on board. It is simple, and non harmful, and if it only helped one person, then that is fine.

  • Well I have been meaning to do something for years. And it is good that you benefit from a very similar position to mine. However I cannot advise people to do this, in case it causes problems. I did last week write to two GPs at the practice I go to, and also to a sleep clinic which looks at RLS. I then looked for sites and found this one. As I say, I have asked people to sit totally straight, and get back to me. This might not even have any effect, so I will have to see, and also hope that people do get back to me. Although technically speaking, it is a very small, selective sample, which then also has it's problems. Anyway, as some people will only get it occasionally, like myself, it may take time to see if there is any effect. I had thought about a blog, but would not know how to set it up, and at the moment have only a few examples of what works for a few people. But might consider it later. However, maybe someone else could do that. 

  • I can make my rls ease off by holding a stretch. I lay on my stomach with one leg bent at the knee at RT angles and the other almost straight out to the side. I can't sleep like that though! :) but it interesting that the stretch stops rls. When it in my back too, I ease it by doing a cat stretch or downward dog yoga pose, while my meds kick in. It only works while I hold the pose unfortunately.

  • Thanks for getting back to me. I had a reply from someone called Jimeka. Have a look . It seems they do this as well. or something very like it. But it is a shame it does not totally resolve it. As I said, mine is totally resolved by bending backwards till I feel pressure across my lower back, which I hold for a few minutes. (but can't advise you to do this in case you have a back problem that this makes worse) I do however believe I am reversing the effects of bad posture, i.e. slouching, during the day, which causes the RLS when I lie in bed, ( maybe also affected by type of mattress), by then bending my spine in the opposite direction. I am asking people, in the first instance to try sitting totally straight, possibly with a firm cushion in the small of their back, even when reading in bed,( but not when sleeping), to see if this helps, or even reduces the number of times the RLS occurs, so if you want to try it , see how it goes and get back to me,. There is no harm in trying.

  • Hi again, I just happened to think about a post just a couple days ago by a 14-year-old asking about whether her poor, slumping posture could be causing her RLS like her mother thinks:

    She made 2 posts in a row, here's the other-

    If you didn't see these, see what you think.

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