Thursday, 13 June 2013

Legs that move a little too much!

A RUNNER’S injuries come in many shapes and forms. To prove it, this week I have been mostly suffering with tennis elbow and restless leg syndrome.

I know what you’re thinking. Neither of these ailments are normally caused by running. I wouldn’t disagree. In fact, my proposition is that they were actually brought on by NOT running.

Over a recent 14-day period I committed the cardinal sin – I made the decision I was simply too busy to run. My excuse was a pretty good one, however, for we were moving house. But, as a wise man once said: “A runner who is too busy to run, is too busy.”

My average weekly mileage – on the low side for several years now – duly plunged even further. But did this respite allow old injuries time to heal? Did I get a rest from the usual minor aches and pains? Not a bit of it.

It’s clear now that the big mistake was to appoint myself as chief and sole removal man for all the goods and chattels of Mr and Mrs Clapped-Out Runner. Most people bite the bullet and entrust this work to a removal firm, but donkey’s years as a runner meant I had supreme confidence in my basic fitness and stamina to cope with all the lifting and shifting on a solo basis.

Now I know what Eddie Izzard feels like on his marathon-a-day projects.  What I’d forgotten is just how much gubbins can be acquired by one household over the course of a few years. CDs, vinyl, books and other publications filled several dozen boxes alone – and that was before even starting on little matters such as furniture.

Do you realise how heavy boxes of vinyl LPs are? How heavy a complete set of Mojo magazines is?  And don’t suggest I flog them on e-Bay, I’ve heard that one before. Several times.

The real killer was that all the van-loads had to be moved TWICE – i.e. from old house to storage, and then from storage to new house. The legacy of all this was a full set of bodily aches and strains, bruised shins, and a painful case of tennis elbow.

And, on top of that, the Restless Legs Syndrome. What causes RLS is a bit of a mystery. Judging by the stuff you find on the internet, it’s largely a mystery to the medical profession too.

Club colleagues at Tiptree Road Runners reckon restless legs is common among runners. During a training run the other night, one of our group told the tale of his spectacular twitching foot. He said this rather embarrassing involuntary movement can only be stopped by quickly downing a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

“Oh that’s nothing to worry about, I have that too,” piped up another of our group – presumably referring to the twitching, and not the wine consumption.

My own legs and feet occasionally take on a life of their own after dark, moving around in the wee small hours in a desperate bid to become comfortable, and often waking me in the process.

Restless Leg Syndrome is the umbrella term used for all this sort of thing, but there appears to be no simple antidote or explanation. Opinion varies over the underlying causes; iron deficiency, too much alcohol and/or caffeine, dehydration, arthritis, vitamin imbalance have all been mentioned.

If you, dear reader, are a sufferer and have any helfpful suggestions, please respond below!  Stretching or getting up and walking around can bring temporary relief, according to many. Others stick their leg out of the bed covers and push against a cold wall or floor.

Some say a cold shower is the only answer, while lying on your front on the floor for 30 minutes is another bizarre (alleged) remedy. Other people - around 1.6 million, including yours truly - have felt it helpful to join a Facebook group called “Sleeping With One Leg Out of the Covers”.

This group’s motto is: “Blanket on – too hot; Blanket off – too cold; One leg out – perfect!”  I somehow doubt whether this group will ever come up with a seriously effective remedy for restless legs, but maybe the simple process of getting out of bed and logging on to their home-page will be enough to do the trick?

* Rob Hadgraft’s five published books on running (plus 11 others on football) are now also available as e-books for Kindle at just £4.99 each.   Use this link:   Rob Hadgraft's running books on Amazon  or, alternatively: