- Using Yoga to Battle Restless Legs Syndrome
- Turning to Yoga for Restless Legs Syndrome Relief
- How Yoga Works
- Yoga for Restless Leg Syndrome
- Ease Restless Leg Syndrome with Yoga
- Physio Works – Physiotherapy Brisbane
- 11 SepEase RLS Symptoms With Moderate Exercise
- Low-Impact, Highly Effective Exercises
- Consider Theraworx Relief
- Simple Exercises That Relieve Leg Pain in the Blink of an Eye
- The best yoga stretches for sore legs
Using Yoga to Battle Restless Legs Syndrome
Is restless legs syndrome (RLS) keeping you up all night and leaving you sleepy all day? The ancient art of yoga might be just the answer you’re looking for. The gentle stretches and deep breaths of yoga, so great for soothing anxiety and strengthening your body, may help the nerves in your legs relax, too.
Restless legs syndrome, Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a neurological condition, but experts don’t know exactly what causes it. RLS is thought to be triggered by an abnormality in the way the brain uses chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. When functioning normally, the neurotransmitter dopamine helps the muscles move in a fluid, controlled manner. When these neurotransmitter pathways are interrupted, however, movements may be uncontrolled. So when you try to snuggle up in bed, you experience tingling sensations in your legs that may range from uncomfortable to downright painful.
Turning to Yoga for Restless Legs Syndrome Relief
When Sherry Shortt, 44, of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, first noticed these “creepy-crawly” sensations that kept her awake at night about four years ago, she knew that she had restless legs syndrome. Luckily, she already knew a good way to keep those symptoms in check.
Shortt is a cardiac technologist and also teaches therapeutic yoga for seniors as part of their cardiac rehabilitation.
“I did some research on my own on certain poses that would help restless legs syndrome and I do those at night after working all day,” says Shortt. “I find that doing them at bedtime helps me sleep — if I can’t sleep, I get out of bed and do those poses.”
Short does about 30 minutes of yoga each night, with a variety of poses designed to help stretch the legs. Her regular routine includes a standing forward bend, a seated forward bend, runner’s lunge, reclining big toe pose, and a butterfly pose.
Short strongly believes in the pose called “legs up the wall.” She lies on her back with her legs resting up against the wall at a 90-degree angle. She closes her eyes, breathes deeply, and focuses on relaxing for about 15 to 20 minutes. Afterward, she can usually go to bed and rest comfortably.
How Yoga Works
The reason “legs up the wall” is a particularly effective yoga pose for restless legs syndrome is because it helps your nervous system to relax. This yoga pose allows the lymphatic system and circulatory system to drain out of the legs, says Benjamin Snider, ND, a naturopathic doctor and co-founder of the Serona Centre in Ontario.
“Legs up the wall is a restorative, relaxing posture,” Dr. Snider notes. “When you’re in that 90- degree position, there’s less nervous stimulation.” This allows the nerves in the legs to relax, helping to diminish the uncomfortable sensations caused by restless legs syndrome. Plus, as a restorative pose, it helps you unwind, ease stress, and prime you for sound sleep.
“I think restless legs syndrome brings a little bit of anxiety, especially if you’re trying to sleep,” says Shortt. “Legs up the wall calms your mind and your heart down. There’s absolutely a calming effect on the mind as well as body,” she says.
The research concurs with Shortt. One small pilot study found that women with restless legs syndrome who practiced yoga regularly for eight weeks experienced better sleep and lower stress levels.
“There are many yoga postures and movements that will be helpful in reducing insomnia and RLS symptoms,” says Jyoti Solanki, RMT, RYT, registered massage therapist and certified yoga instructor at the Serona Centre in Ontario. “Yoga postures that are cooling to the nervous system will also help stretch the legs, hips, and back.”
Shortt recently found out just how essential yoga is as part of her overall healthy lifestyle and treatment for restless legs syndrome symptoms (she also walks for 30 minutes each day, sticks to a very healthy diet, and takes a nightly magnesium supplement). “I was on a trip and on the plane ride home I really noticed them for the first time in a while,” Shortt recalls. She had enjoyed a week of vacation and hadn’t been able to follow her normal nightly yoga routine, and definitely paid the price. “There are still nights that I find it bothersome, but it’s definitely better than it used to be,” says Shortt. “And I can tell a big difference if I don’t do my yoga.”
Yoga for Restless Leg Syndrome
In the video I refer to a yoga flow on the MamaNurture website.
This article is a revision of an article written by Shannon Crow on the
Wendy Brown, who is a member of The Connected Yoga teacher group, shares her experience with Restless Leg Syndrome
“The more I do, the worse my restless leg syndrome is, and the less I do, the worse it also is.
Generally around the dinner hour, I start to feel aches and pain and some mild excersice like going for a walk, riding my bike or gentle yoga will help aliviate the ache and pain. Before bed, I do a few yoga postures – restorative in nature with the last one being legs up the wall.
Sometimes using a heating pad on my legs also helps reduce the pain just before bed.
I also mix almond or avadco add oil with lavander and peppermint essential oils (couple drops each) and massage my legs before sleep. I sometimes will switch out the peppermint for another essential oil that helps with pain as peppermint can keep me awake.
The yoga and movement is most helpful for me.”
Ease Restless Leg Syndrome with Yoga
EASE RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME WITH YOGA
My good friend has been suffering for a long time, tried and tested many different techniques and remedies with not much help. She asked me to create a yoga programme that would help her to ease the symptoms and more I look into it more people I come across who suffer with this condition.
So what is the Restless leg syndrome?
It is a disorder that causes uncomfortable, urgent feelings in the body. It is considered a neurological sleep disorder. Those with restless leg syndrome can have a variety of symptoms including a need to move or shake the legs, a crawling sensation, or a tickling or itching feeling. Many people with restless leg syndrome also experience twitching or jerking of the limbs during sleep.
At this time, there is no known cure for restless leg syndrome. The most common treatments include a daily light exercise routine, cutting out caffeine, nicotine, white sugar and other stimulants, and establishing a more restful sleep environment.
In addition to regular yoga practice, particular postures can help relieve the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. End of day yoga and meditation routines can help the sufferer create a stable evening and relaxed mind for bedtime.
Each person has their own unique experience and each person’s path toward healing is often equally unique. Below are my tips on how to manage Restless Leg Syndrome based on my research:
Any yoga posture that releases nervous energy from the legs will help. Postures like Standing Forward Bend, Downward Facing Dog, and Goddess Pose release tension and nervous energy from the body. If energy is constructively released from the body, it should improve your odds for less restless leg syndrome flare ups and a healthy sleep session.
Perform yoga poses that work the thigh muscles and also those that flex and extend the solar plexus and pelvis. I have found that forward bends, backward bends and spinal twists are all beneficial as well as specific poses that contract the thighs such as the chair pose and the warrior pose series.
If you want to practice just one posture, try ‘legs up the wall’ – that will feel really good! Legs up the Wall pose is good for aiding circulation within the legs. The pose should be held for five to twenty minutes, depending on the ease of the pose for the practitioner. If there is discomfort in the back, a bolster or blanket can be placed under the small of the back.
All poses should be performed very slowly with great attention to the body and breath.
Practice alternate nostril breathing before bed (Contact me for instructions).
Cut out caffeine, nicotine, white sugar and other stimulants.
If you’ve been kept awake at night by the irresistible urge to move your legs that comes with restless legs syndrome, you’ve probably searched for ways to find relief.
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Motivated by the need to sleep, people with the condition have gotten creative. Among their tips: Sleeping with a bar of soap under a fitted sheet. As unusual as it sounds, it may be effective, says neurologist and sleep expert Jessica Vensel-Rundo, MD.
This is because some soap contains magnesium, which has muscle relaxant properties and may ease restless legs symptoms.
Like many other home remedies, this tactic doesn’t have the weight of medical evidence behind it. But when it comes to treating restless legs syndrome, anything that relieves symptoms is worth trying.
And some of the most effective treatment ideas have come from patients.
If there’s a certain activity that works for my patient, I encourage them to try it. Really, treating restless legs is all about symptom control.
Here are five home remedies patients have suggested:
1. (Warm or cold) compresses can be soothing
Heated or cooled pads, often used to relieve swelling caused by injuries and other conditions, have a long history as a home remedy. Dr. Vensel-Rundo says they can be effective by creating a new sensation for the brain to process, reducing the uncomfortable sensation produced by restless legs syndrome.
You can buy an inexpensive cold or warm compress at a store, but the simplest way to make one is to soak fabric in cold or warm water and place it against your skin.
2. Magnesium may relax your muscles
Like calcium, this mineral is critical for bone and muscle health.
“Anecdotally, magnesium may be helpful to relieve restless legs, and it is a natural muscle relaxant,” Dr. Vensel-Rundo says. She recommends taking magnesium separately rather than as part of a multivitamin.
Because magnesium can cause side effects, including diarrhea, it’s best to start at smaller doses of around 200 to 400 mg a day. If you don’t have problems with those, you can go up to 1,000 mg daily. Magnesium glycinate seems to have fewer side effects for patients.
3. Replace the urge to move
When your legs are tingling, throbbing or hurting, it can be difficult for the brain to focus on anything else. One way to break the cycle is to replace the urge to move with another sensation.
“Any kind of counterstimulation, like taking a bath or shower in the evening, can be helpful,” Dr. Vensel-Rundo says. Even rubbing or massaging the legs can provide temporary relief.
Light stretching can help, but rigorous exercise before bed isn’t a good idea, she says.
4. Weighted blankets can reduce prickly feeling — and anxiety
A weighted blanket can offer a constant but gentle counterstimulation to override the feeling of restless legs.
There’s one more reason to suspect weighted blankets might help, Dr. Vensel-Rundo says.
Some research suggests restless legs may be connected with anxiety. So, if it helps you relieve anxiety, a weighted blanket may also help with your restless legs.
5. Avoid these foods before bed
For reasons that aren’t quite clear, tobacco, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime are known to bring on bouts of restless legs, Dr. Vensel-Rundo says. Dairy products and foods heavy in sugar have also been reported to trigger restless legs.
When to seek help
Of course, home remedies have their limits. If these ideas don’t work for you — and they don’t work for everyone — don’t hesitate to seek out the advice of a sleep expert.
Not everyone with restless legs needs to see a doctor, but severe cases can be debilitating.
“Some people feel so desperate and helpless,” Dr. Vensel-Rundo says, as their lack of sleep can cause depression and anxiety.
She says to consult a doctor if either of the following apply to you:
- Your difficulties falling or staying asleep lead to you feeling sleepy or unrefreshed.
- Your sleep is disrupted at least two or three times a week.
Physio Works – Physiotherapy Brisbane
- If you are Iron, folate or magnesium deficient you GP will be able to perform blood test to confirm any deficiencies and prescribe the necessary supplements
Therapy – Exercise
- Movement can bring temporary relief from the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome, this is why you may feel that walking in the night when you get symptoms feels good. Alternatively, performing a program of regular moderate exercise may help reduce your symptoms and help you sleep better. However, excessive exercise has been reported by some patients to aggravate RLS symptoms.
Your physiotherapist will be able to monitor and advise you on suitable exercises to help with Restless Leg Syndrome.
Therapy – Massage, Heat and Ice
- While there is no conclusive evidence to suggest massaging cures Restless Leg Syndrome, but many patients do feel symptoms can be eased by regular massage.
- Using a heat pack, having a warm bath or placing an ice pack on your symptomatic areas for 10-15mins before bed may also help relieve symptoms.
For patients where there is no apparent associated medical condition, certain lifestyle changes and activities may reduce or eliminate symptoms. These include:
- decreased use of caffeine,
- decreased use of alcohol,
- decreased use of tobacco,
- addressing any stressful influences in your life.
http://brainfoundation.org.au/disorders/restless-legs-syndrome – Brain Foundation Website
http://www.rls.org.au/ – Restless Legs Syndrome Website
If you have any further question please ask your physiotherapist.
RLS Treatment Options
Helpful Products for Restless Leg Syndrome
FAQs about Restless Legs
11 SepEase RLS Symptoms With Moderate Exercise
If you suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS), those twitchy, itchy, creepy-crawly symptoms can disrupt your sleep—and even your life. But did you know that making certain lifestyle changes, such as beginning a moderate exercise program, may help you ease symptoms of RLS?
Exercise can help relieve RLS symptoms by:
- Increasing blood flow to the leg muscles
- Releasing the feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins, which help reduce stress and promote good sleep
- Increasing another feel-good brain chemical called dopamine, which helps reduce pain
No need to invest in a bunch of equipment or start training for a marathon—easy, low-impact workouts are all you need to reap these benefits! The Theraworx Relief team rounded up some resources on a few of our favorites.
Low-Impact, Highly Effective Exercises
- Walking is one of the best low-impact, low-investment exercises you can do. A good pair of shoes is really all you need. Harvard Health offers these 6 tips to help you keep a walking regimen on track.
- Swimming is another great option for a low-impact workout. Regardless of your ability and experience, people of all ages can swim. Check out this article from MyFitnessPal to get started.
- Yoga is a great exercise because in addition to getting you moving, it can increase flexibility and reduce stress! New to yoga? No worries. Shape Magazine breaks down the different types of yoga to help you find which yoga style is right for you.
- Tai Chi (or T’ai Chi Ch’üan) was originally conceived as a martial art, but because of its many health benefits, the practice has become a popular exercise option. Like our other low-impact exercise picks, Tai Chi’s slow and gentle movements can be done by virtually anyone, regardless of age or health status. You can practice Tai Chi at home with a video, or check out this guide to beginner moves on Livestrong.com.
- Cycling allows you to work up a sweat without stressing your joints. One of the best parts of cycling outdoors is that it’s so invigorating, you can easily burn lots of calories without feeling like you’re working that hard. Cycling Weekly offers some great tips to get you off to the best start.
Important note: Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program. This general information on restless legs syndrome is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional’s advice.
Consider Theraworx Relief
If you suffer from RLS, ask your doctor or pharmacist if Theraworx Relief is right for you. In a research study including patients diagnosed with RLS, Theraworx Relief was shown to reduce symptoms commonly associated with and accompanying RLS, including muscle cramps and spasms.
To learn more about RLS, from causes to managing it and more, read our article chock-full of RLS facts.
These postures represent what yoga medicine expert Tiffany Cruikshank hopes will become standard medical protocol. Here’s how to feel better fast with yoga poses.
THE PAIN: INFLAMMATION
“Restorative postures like these are about deep relaxation, not stretching,” says Cruikshank. “They quiet the nervous system, allowing your body to rest and begin the healing process.”
The Move: Restorative Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat, rib cage on bolster and head on folded blanket. Bring soles of feet together and let your knees fall to the sides, placing 1 block (pillows work, too) under each thigh for support. Allow arms to rest by sides, palms up. Close your eyes and completely relax. Rest there 3 to 5 minutes.
MORE: 4 Moves To Slim Your Hips And Thighs
The Move: Restorative Child’s Pose
Sit on your heels and spread knees about hip-width or slightly wider with big toes touching. Place bolster (or stack of pillows and folded blankets) in front of you high enough and firm enough to support you. Lean forward and rest torso on padding, turning head to one side and draping arms over sides. Close your eyes and completely relax. Rest there 2 to 5 minutes.
MORE: 6 Moves That Target Stubborn Cellulite
THE PAIN: KNEE
If you have knee pain, poses that target the muscles on the outsides of your thighs—which, when tight, can lead to discomfort in both areas—can help. “It’s also important to strengthen the muscles around the kneecap,” says Cruikshank.
The Move: Twisted Figure Four
Lie on your back and bend knees with your feet on ground. Place right ankle on left knee, then allow both legs to fall over to your left. Rest the sole of your right foot on the ground as your right knee points up toward the ceiling or away from your head. If this is too difficult, move the legs down a few inches away from your head. “The key to this one is to let your pelvis hang toward the floor and to relax your lower back as you allow the outer thigh and hip to gently stretch,” says Cruikshank. This stretch may be mild or more obvious. Either way, try to relax to allow the area to adapt to the position. Hold 1 minute, then repeat on other side.
The Move: Warrior II
Place feet about 4 to 5 feet apart, turning right foot forward and left foot parallel to back of mat and pointing inward slightly. Bend right knee over ankle and stretch arms apart, gazing over fingertips of right hand. Hold 30 seconds, building up to 60 seconds. Repeat on other side.
MORE: The No Squats Belly, Butt, And Thighs Workout
THE PAIN: BACK
“Back pain is often caused by tight hips,” says Cruikshank. “These poses allow the lower back to release.”
The Move: Half Happy Baby Pose
Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Lie faceup and draw right knee to your chest with right arm. Grab outside of right knee with right hand and bring it over to the right side. Relax your lower back. For a deeper stretch, grab the sole of your right foot with your right hand and draw your foot down so right knee comes toward the ground by your right side, keeping right ankle over right knee. Stay 1 minute. Repeat on opposite side.
The Move: Supine Twist
Lie on your back. Pull knees to your chest, then take both legs over to left, stacking right knee on top of left, resting both legs on the ground. If you’re not able to get your knees to the ground, put a pillow or prop under left knee. Stay 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat on opposite side.
THE PAIN: SCIATICA
“The searing pain that radiates down the leg can often be relieved by stretching the tight deep-hip rotators,” says Cruikshank. (Also try these six simple sciatica stretches you can do in bed.)
The Move: Figure Four
Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Lie faceup and bend your knees, keeping feet on the ground. Take right ankle to left knee and draw legs in toward chest. Grab around left hamstrings or shin and gently draw legs in toward chest. Rest head on the ground and try to drop hips toward the ground. Relax and stay 1 to 2 minutes, then repeat on other side.
MORE: 10 Exercises That Burn More Calories Than Running
The Move: Reclined Cow Face Pose
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Cross right leg over left. Raise both legs off the floor and grab hold of shins or knees. If you feel a stretch in your right outer thigh, stay there; otherwise, flex both feet, then grab feet, drawing them toward your hips or shoulders. Hold 1 minute, then slowly switch legs and repeat.
THE PAIN: SHOULDER
This pose helps to restore function to the rotator cuff muscles, easing discomfort, says Cruikshank.
The Move: Cow Face Pose
Grab a strap or towel in your right hand reaching overhead and draping the strap over your back. Take your left hand and reach up your back to grab the strap. Walk your left hand up the strap until you feel a gentle stretch. Back off enough so that you can relax your neck and shoulders as you hold for 1 minute on each side.
MORE: 60-Second Fix For A Stiff Neck
THE PAIN: NECK/HEADACHE
“Most of us spend hours a day at a computer, carrying heavy bags, or with poor posture, all of which are a perfect recipe for neck pain,” says Cruikshank. Headaches are the second most common reason for visits to the doctor, with the most common type of headache being tension headaches. These poses are especially helpful when the headaches are more related to muscle tension and stress.
The Move: Restorative Chest Pose
Roll a mat or towel to 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Lie with the roll vertically behind your spine and head. Let your body be heavy on the roll as you close your eyes and relax here. Stay for 2 to 5 minutes. Releasing tension in the chest is crucial to the long-term effects on the neck. “When the chest muscles get tight and start to pull the head and shoulders forward, it puts more pressure on the neck muscles, forcing them to overwork and to become chronically tense,” says Cruikshank. “This pose allows you to relax and be supported so the chest muscles can release and reposition for the long-term relief of the neck.”
MORE: 7 Weird Things Your Teeth Are Trying To Tell You
The Move: Eagle Pose Arms
Cross your right arm over your left and touch the backs of the palms or the palms together. Drop your head toward your arms and breath deeply though the upper back. Close your eyes and relax as you hold for 1 minute. Then repeat with other arm on top. “This pose addresses the most common sources of tension in the neck and shoulders that lead to tension that can cause headaches,” says Cruikshank.
The Move: Legs Up the Wall
Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Roll up a towel and keep it close at hand as you lie on your back and place your legs so they are resting up against a wall. Scoot in to a comfortable distance from the wall. Then push your feet against the wall to lift your hips; place the rolled towel under your pelvis. Relax your pelvis back down and rest your legs against the wall again. Close your eyes and extend your arms to the sides in a comfortable position. Relax in that position for 5 minutes.
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The best yoga stretches for sore legs
Let’s face it; everyone is time poor these days. We do our best to fit things in, to get to the gym, to eat right, to see our family and friends, to clean our place (sometimes this just falls off the list) and so stretching after a run or work out just misses out.
Trouble is, if you don’t stretch regularly you feel approximately 102 – and that’s on a good day. We use our legs all day so give them the love and attention they deserve, with this quick, easy and effective workout.
1. Knee hug
Lie down on the floor and hug your knees to your chest. Slow your breathing as you are doing this, and as you exhale pull the knees closer to you. This will wake up your hip flexors and bring more circulation into your legs. Take a minute or two.
RELATED: The Pilates workout that will help you calm down in just 10 minutes
2. Thigh cross
Cross your right leg over the left (and even hook the ankle if you can underneath the left calf). Reach out your arms in line with your shoulders and rest your spine against the mat. As you exhale, let the legs gently fall to the left, but only as far as they will comfortably go. Take 10 slow breaths. Come back to the middle, and change sides. Repeat on second side.
3. Cross-legged forward fold
Rock up to sitting, massaging your back along the way. Cross your right leg in front of your left, and if you can, let each heel arrive under the opposite knee so you are very square. Relax your sit bones and fold forward from your hips. Hold forward for 10 breaths. Then sit up slowly and change sides and then repeat with your left leg in front.
RELATED: The barre exercises that will give you dancer’s legs
4. Straight leg stretch
Bring both legs in front of you and have them lightly touching. Extend out your heels slightly but so they are still on the floor. Lean forward and lay your stomach on your legs. If you can do this, bend your knees. Hold the outside eyes of your legs on your feet. Start this stretch at 50 per cent effort so you feel quite calm to start. Take about 10 breaths just leaning forward into the stretch, then straighten the legs a little more to find a deeper stretch and hold for a further 10 breaths.
5. Knee fold
Fold your right leg in half so you are kneeling on one shin. Toes pointing straight back, your bottom should ideally sit on the floor (if not use a pillow/blanket under left bottom). Slowly lean back a little to find the stretch. If it feels good you can bend your elbows and lie back more, or all the way to the floor. Hold for 10 breaths. Come up slowly and change the sides.
6. Happy baby
For the last release, bend both knees beside your body and hold either outside edges of your feet or backs of your knees. With your head and shoulders flat on the floor, gently encourage the knees to the floor. Hold for 10 breaths and release.
If possible do this routine post any leg workout you do, it will speed your recovery and the longer your muscles are, the faster your stride will be!
Martine Allars is a yoga teacher at Elixr Health Clubs.
RELATED: Five steps to a long and lean body