When I don't want to disturb neighbors in my apartment building at night with rushing water in the shower for The Water Fix (see my earlier post), there is an alternative. It is The Foot Massage Fix. This works for me just about as well as The Water Fix. Almost every night, after about 30 minutes in bed, I begin to have nagging, sleep-depriving restless legs. After performing The Foot Massage Fix on both of my feet (takes about 5 minutes in total), my legs are "reset" and calm. I usually fall asleep within 5-10 minutes after that!
The Foot Massage Fix:
1. While lying your back in bed, flex one leg so that the knee is elevated and take the foot of the other leg and place it on that knee so that your thumbs have access to the sole of the foot.
2. Wrapping your fingers around the upper part your foot, use your thumbs to massage the small bones of the upper foot and under the toes. Massage the base of the toes, between the toes and pull them gently.
3. Then, again wrapping your fingers around both sides of the middle part of your foot, alternatively sweep your thumbs up the underside of the sole of your foot in upward motions while moving the sweeping thumbs from left to right and back again. Complete 4-5 cycles of left to right to left (or right to left to right) thumb sweeps over the surface of the soles of your foot. Be sure to apply enough pressure (but not too much) to massage the tissues inside the sole and stimulate the nerves.
4. Take your index finger or thumb and run it around the whole edge of your heel (with special pressure on those hard calloused areas of the back edge of the heel). In this way, run your finger in a circle 3 times around the perimeter of the heel pad.
5. With your fingers wrapped around both sides of your foot and using one thumb on top of the other, use lower thumb's joint/knuckle to press down hard on a special spot: the soft, tender area of the sole of your foot just above the heel. This is about 6-7 centimeters up from the bottom of your foot (just above where the circular pad of the heel begins). Push down in this tender area about 4 times across the foot from left to right. You can sometimes feel a deep sensation in your foot as you reach tissue and nerves deep in that gap of the foot's anatomy. Be sure not to push to hard as to injure your foot or irritate a ligament.
6. Repeat Step 3.
7. Repeat Steps 1 to 6 with the other foot (elevating the knee from the opposite leg).
I find that this massage completely calms my restless legs allowing me to fall asleep within minutes. I believe it works on the same principle as foot reflexology: Nerves from the whole body appear to terminate in the feet. By massaging the sole of the foot, one may be stimulating them and sending signals back along those nerve pathways to the brain (where, it is believed, our unfortunate RLS signals originate!) By sending this signal in the reverse direction as a sort of feedback to the brain, I believe that the RLS circuitry/dopamine mechanism is reset and turned off.
I discovered and refined this massage technique on my own, massaging both my feet and those of a friend who also suffers from RLS. Like The Water Fix, I depend on this technique to get a good night's sleep....something often so difficult to achieve when one suffers from the unique torture of restless, nagging RLS "bed legs" night after night.