Novel exercises for Restless Legs syndrome: A randomized, controlled trial

Eloise G. Harrison, Jennifer L. Keating, Prue Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sensorimotor disorder that can have a considerable negative impact on quality of life and sleep. Management is primarily pharmacological; nonpharmacological options are limited. The objective of the present study was to determine the effect of tension and trauma release exercises on RLS severity compared with discussion group controls. Methods: Participants satisfied RLS diagnostic criteria, did not have acute mental health conditions, and reported being physically able to complete exercises. Eighteen participants (stratified by age and RLS severity) were randomly allocated with concealment to once-weekly sessions of trauma release exercises (n 9), exercises to stretch and fatigue lower limb muscles and invoke therapeutic tremors, or control discussion groups (n 9) for 6 weeks. Outcomes assessed at baseline and each week were International Restless Legs Syndrome Rating Scale scores, global RLS severity ratings (visual analog scale, 0 to 10), global stress ratings (visual analog scale, 0 to 10), Pittsburgh Insomnia Rating Scale scores and Major Depression Inventory scores. Results: There were no significant between-group differences at baseline except for more severe global RLS scores for controls (P .003). There were no significant between-group differences at week 6 on any outcome. Significant improvements across time were seen for both groups on all outcomes. Conclusions: In this exploratory study, tension and trauma release exercises and attending discussion groups were associated with similar outcomes. Participants in both groups improved similarly across time. Future research might establish score stability across a prolonged baseline before commencing intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-794
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Exercise Therapy
  • Lower Extremity
  • Mental Health
  • Quality of Life
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Visual Analog Scale

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