Can Competitive and Weekend Athletes get Restless Legs Syndrome from Overdoing it?
Competitive athletes, particularly runners, often sustain injuries involving cramping and uncomfortable sensations they might mistake for symptoms of RLS. A diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome involves eliminating other suspected conditions one by one. The physician must also take a thorough medical history. An athlete who is not a skilled medical practitioner cannot self-diagnose RLS.
Nevertheless, a correlation exists between overtraining and RLS, although it is not a direct one. Vitamin deficiencies have been implicated as a causative agent in some cases of RLS. Athletes who train too hard can experience vitamin deficiencies if they do not maintain proper nutrition and hydration.
According to Susan Paul, a prominent running coach and psychologist, it is not unusual for runners to have vitamin or mineral deficiencies. In an article she wrote in 2009 for Runner’s World online, Paul points out that abnormally low levels of iron, folate, magnesium and B vitamins can cause symptoms that are similar to those experienced by individuals with RLS.
- She makes the following recommendations for athletes who have sustained injuries because of overexertion:
If you have a training log, bring it with when you visit your healthcare provider.
- Try to recall when the symptoms first appeared and keep track of all similar incidents.
Be prepared to discuss with your physician how your symptoms might relate to an increase in the level of your training.
- If you are diagnosed with RLS, you may have to drastically limit your activity. Unfortunately, competitive athletics may no longer be an option because strenuous exercise often worsens RLS symptoms.
If you have been limiting your extreme exercise to weekends and vacations or holidays, you are among the millions of Americans who ensure a lavish lifestyle for orthopedists, chiropractors and physical therapists, It is almost impossible to escape injury if you do not train during the week, then throw the switch into high-gear when the weekend rolls around.
If your sporadic exertion causes RLS-like symptoms, do not resume training until you get the green light from your physician. When you resume training, do so regularly — at least three times a week, with a day or two off between hard core training, Use your days off to stretch or engage in physical activities that focus on other muscle groups.