Restless Legs Syndrome
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Piriformous stretching

Hello everyone..Happy New Year!! I have an interesting way of getting my rls to stay away. I lay on my stomach with a pillow under my chest. Then just lay there and move your legs up and down. So that means push one leg towards the foot of the bed and the other towards headboard and slowly continue. Its the same motion as if you are sitting in a chair and pushing one hip forward and the other back...like a choo choo train. My chiropractor gave me this exercise for loosening the Piriformous muscle in the lower back. I barely have to move the legs and rls stays away. If its really intense(rls) then I have to push a little harder on extending the leg and retracting the leg. I have done this now for quite awhile and I have success every time. Maybe this may help others too!!

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Good for you and thanks for posting! It sounds too good to be true, but it will surely not hurt to try. However, I find it difficult to really grasp how you do this exercise - maybe there is a video somewhere showing how to do it? Do you have a name for the exercise? Or do you know of a video and can you post a link? No use doing the exercise the wrong way I suppose.

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Thank you. I will try this; it sounds quite like two exercises posted a while back - though less strenuous. One was effectively the 'bow' yoga pose and the other involved lying on your front as a starting point - very similar to this one - and then pressing the tops of the feet into the floor so as to put pressure on the lower back. I sometimes use them when the legs strike and they can be surprisingly effective.

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Hi ID, I looked for images of bow yoga pose on the web and they seem rather different from what birdman describes. Anyway, my stretches before bed and during the night when troubled by rls involve standing slightly bent forward, leaning on the bedside or back of couch for support and stretching my hamstrings and calves by keeping my legs straight and pushing my heels backwards / towards the ground. The last bit - when alternating legs - is somewhat similar to the ‘walking-like’ movement described by birdman? It contributes to calming the legs and if I keep moving or walking long enough the rls may stay away long enough to fall asleep again. But that usually takes quite a while;30 min when I am lucky, 2+hrs when I am not. The constant and continuing tiredness from the broken nights has been getting at me lately. I am losing hope that it can or will get better some day. Gosh. I didn’t plan or writing that. Shall write a separate post with a proper question soon.

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I feel entirely the same way just at present, Lotte. I started a post recently about something completely different and suddenly out of nowhere all the bleakness emerged onto the screen. I was hardly aware I was typing it ...

As to the similarity of the exercises; I expressed myself badly - the guy who posted suggested two exercises but it was the other one - not the bow - that I thought sounded similar - though it actually targets the lower back where this guy figured his Rls movements emanated from. I think mine often start there too.

I do a series of stretches - they take about 40 minutes - which include the exact ones you describe. I also stretch the iliotibial muscle (a standing stretch but far to difficult to describe - it can be googled) and hamstring - I target the hamstring in various different stretches as I suspect it is the most efficacious, followed by the glutes.

I hope you are sleeping soundly as I type.

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Thx ID. I was asleep but awake again. Just done 5 min of stretching and a bit of walking. And I read on the forum. Sometimes I wonder if that is keeping me awake, but I find it distractive and it always makes me feel supported and less desperate.

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I sometimes wonder that too - screens being so bad for sleep. However, I notice that when I am using the patches (I alternate every couple of months) and my symptoms are covered and I am not taking any of the alertness inducing drugs, I just go to sleep and don’t go online at all. So I try not to judge myself too harshly.

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I find the same Lotte, stretching the hamstrings helps...but did also rush to a hot footbath with magnesium the other night and that helped too...Aaarghh...! And then...yes do find lower back can exacerbate the RLS if not tended to.

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As I typed my post I was wondering if it was understandable....let try again.....imagine you are standing and you lift one leg up off the floor..leg straight...that would be the hip up towards the headboard. At the same time you are trying to extend the other leg to touch the wall. Don't move any other part of your body...just the hip area....or maybe this....you are laying down and someone has your feet...one leg they push away from them...the other they pull towards them......then they switch and pull the opposite and push opposite...that motion is what you want to do yourself.....hope that helps

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Yep, it does!

One more question: do you need to ‘flex’ your feet while doing the exercise? I.e. as if you are standing?

I do wonder about the involvement of the piriformis muscle, though, as I thought that is a muscle on your buttock. Maybe that is why I got confused.

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I don't flex my feet...I just push/pull as hard as I can 3 or 4 times...then just barely move the legs...just a small distraction....sometimes the urges are still there...so I just push /pull harder and sometimes that's all it takes...sometimes it takes awhile....sometimes I add some massage to the Piriformous...which yes...is in the butt....The sciatic nerve runs under it or over it or through it...going through seems to give people issues. (This is my Chiropractors thinking....he thinks the sciatic has something to do with it. He showed me the diagrams in his medical book)....this exercise was derived from the choo choo train exercise he gave me.....sit in a chair that keeps knees roughly 90 degrees...push and pull your knees away and to you...like the tops of your legs are the rods on a choo choo train that make the wheels go around....none of you upper body should move...(not as easy as it sounds.. ;-) )

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Thank you bird man I do a similar type of exercises . One f them consists of kneeling on a mat or cushion one leg forward and one leg trailing behind. Then push forwards with the hips until you feel stretching on the trailing leg and hold for 2 mins and then repeat with the other leg forward and hold for a further 2mins. I do this everyday and also use a tens machine its not a cure but a form of management that works for me and drugs free.

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That stretch sounds similar to the quadriceps stretch I do...another stretch for the butt muscles is.....sitting in a chair, legs bent at 90 degrees. Bring one foot up and place ankle on knee with your hand from opposite side underneath it to support ankle. With the other hand slightly push down on knee and lean forward. I do usually 5 sets this way. Then while still sitting in this position, I now bring one knee up so that the knee is basically in the armpit of the opposite sides arm and foot is on the outside of opposite knee and I hug my leg, If I don't get much stretch in my butt then I move my foot on the floor outwards slightly till I feel a good stretch

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Could you please explain this "Then just lay there and move your legs up and down. So that means push one leg towards the foot of the bed and the other towards headboard and slowly continue. Its the same motion as if you are sitting in a chair and pushing one hip forward and the other back".

I have difficulty understanding this exercise, laying on the stomach and pushing the legs up and down? Does it mean your feet are outwards flat on the ground (or bed) and you bend your knees when bringing the leg up??

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Appreciate the sharing of this advice but please check spelling of Piriformis before posting, it may mislead people who do not know the correct terminology.

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Have we met before?

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Hi Birdman,

That exercise definitely sounds interesting, I was glad to see your 2nd email where the description of the movement was easier for me to understand. I'll be trying it they way you describe. I've been doing something vaguely similar, but only the laying on the front section. It can work but isn't consistent. I'll let you know how I get on.

It's encouraging to discover something that we can do without needing the permission of a doctor, and I like the fact that it doesn't involve another medicine.

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Wow! Thanks , I will try that.

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Hi Birdman,

Thanks for your email.

It shows there are ways to relieve the symptoms of RLS, and it may be a possible one for me to try. I'll try it out and let you know how it works for me

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Hi Birdman, Does your chiropractor think this might help occasional lower back pain also? I'm thinking that maybe stress from any source can cause the piriformous muscle to tighten up which in turn can cause pain, tight muscles, etc.Seems like a good exercise. Will give it a try. If it works not having to get out of bed so often for relief would be a Godsend! How long do you usually do the exercise before feeling relief? irina1975

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Hello irina. Oh most definately. I have twice in my life completely spasmed these muscles, to the point that I couldn't lift my legs off a chair. Mine are sooooo tight, he used the point of his elbow and upper body weight to press on them, trying to get them to relax a bit. That's when he showed me the book.

I do the exercise different ways. I either lay on my stomach or my back. On my stomach I can get more hip stretching in too. I don't spend much time suffering...every night is different though. I also find that I get better relief from the exercise when on my stomach. I have a theory about this. My Rls isn't painful. Mine is triggered also from touch. Stretching the hamstrings,calves, and glutes/piriformis also bring on the sensation. My sensation feels the same as what a coldshiver in your back feels like...right before you shake. That welling feeling in the muscles. It starts light and builds in length and intensity until I finally shake. The shake....resets it.. When one does this exercise...the muscles lengthen which allows everything to move just enough that the nerves that are irritated by the tension,get relief. I get rls in every position that involves pressure pushing on my butt. To answer your question fully...maybe 5 mins of just lying there flexing those muscles. I barely move sometimes. Just a slight shuffle. Then if I feel a sensation coming on...I start long slow shuffles where I really extend the legs.

I hope this helps! :-)

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Hi Birdman, Thank you for the directions re the piriformis exercises. Your directions were very indepth and clear. I am going to start trying to do them tonight. My plan is to try the exercise before getting out of bed for rls sx. It would be great not to have to hop out of bed every time leg probs pop up. Thanks again, will keep you posted. The part about keeping legs straight brings to mind something I've discovered works for me. ( little personal info-so close your eyes if you're shy!LOL-Nurses can talk about anything!!!) My sleeping partner also has early afib-not as advanced as mine and I am trying to help him learn early interventions. He sleeps with a lot of pillows which I know, for a variety of reasons is bad for body alignment. Many people need pillows to keep their upper bodyelevated to breathe better but it;s preferable, in my opinion to avoid getting to this point. This has nothing to do with rls per se but more with my afib. I use a CPAP machine which enables me to sleep flat with a thin pillow. One night he "stole my pillow' and when I woke with my usual 'rls'legs' I discovered that the sx weren't that bad, I was more comfortable in general being absolutely flat in bed (better body alignment) with no pillow. And my legs were straight out rather than as usual bent at the knee(better circulation/less nerve and circulation pressure.) Sounds like your exercise uses some of these same principles. Worth looking into. Thanks again for the in-depth info. Take care.. irina1975

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Your very welcome!! I hope it helps!!

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hi -- ill try anything - thanks for share - Jan oh how long do you hold the stretch 😀

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I hold the sitting piriformis stretch for about a minute.

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