Working with Restless Legs

It may be hard to concentrate on work when your leg muscles are pulling or twitching. The good news is there are lots of simple techniques to help you manage your restless legs while at work.

1. Talk with your supervisor

Educate yourself about restless legs so you can talk with your supervisor about it. After you explain why you have the urge to move, you can work as a team to come up with solutions to keep you comfortable and productive at work. You may also need to explain that you do not have control of your condition and trying to conquer the need to move can make things worse.

2. The night shift work

It may not be a selection for each person, but several people with restless legs look for night shift work. They find that a job that keeps them awake at night gives them relief.

3. Travel for work

Travel could be hard for people with restless legs. The stress and long times of sitting can worsen your symptoms. On the other hand, there are ways to cope such as:

  • While waiting for a train or flight, rather than sitting, walk the concourse or pace in a small area
  • If driving, build in time to stop for breaks so you can get out and walk.
  • If accessible, try to get special seating that allows for more legroom.
  • Try to travel early in the day so that you are on the ground by the time evening symptoms appear.
  • Ask your doctor about a medicine that can be used for restless legs during the day.
  • Pack things you use for relief, such as knitting, distracting video games, or crossword puzzles. Remember your restless legs medications and cold or hot packs.

While on the road, do not forget to exercise. A few minutes of gentle stretches or marching in place in your hotel room helps manage your restless legs symptoms.

Common workplace accommodations for restless legs:

Most workplace accommodations for restless legs do not have to cost any money. It may include:

  • Starting your shift with a quick walk around the building or up and downstairs
  • Concentrating tasks that need sitting to the mornings and early afternoons
  • Bringing in a massager roller to use on your legs
  • Moving tasks that let you move to later in the day
  • Taking a fast break to stretch next to your desk
  • Allowing you to stand during meetings

Several people find that desks that let both sitting and standing helps. Others keep a mini treadmill under their desks. You may also often change the height of your chair to keep your legs from getting used to a single position. Other people find relief when they stand at their desks during phone calls.

Also, if caffeine or sugar triggers your symptoms, explain to your supervisor and coworkers why you need to avoid the slice of the monthly birthday cake or decaf coffee. By being open about your condition, your colleagues may react with understanding rather than judgment.  

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