Author Topic: Cramps in leg/restless leg  (Read 2841 times)


Cramps in leg/restless leg
« on: August 02, 2010, 07:26:17 PM »

Thanks for a great forum! I'm new both to this forum and to meditation in general. I have been meditating for about five months, originally motivated by an anxiety disorder that makes it difficult for me to function at work. I started by meditating for 20 minutes once a day, but lately my goal has been to meditate 30 minutes twice a day. For now I stick to shamatha practice.

For the past couple of weeks every time I meditate I experience quite severe cramps/restlessness in my left foot and leg (never my right leg). I find this weird, as I sit on a chair and not crosslegged on a cushion. This makes it quite hard for me to sit still for 30 minutes, and I'm afraid that it might be harmfull. Because of this fear and the pain, I usually don't manage to sit still for 30 minutes, even though I want to.

My questions are: 1.) What may be the causes of this? Can it be a sign of progress?, 2.)What should I do about it? Should I just sit and experience this pain or should I maybe take it as a sign to stop the meditation before 30 minutes?, 3.) Is it harmfull in any way?

I hope these are not too naive questions :)



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Re: Cramps in leg/restless leg
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2010, 01:43:04 PM »
Hi  :),
1) May be your posture on the cushion provoke that pain or your lack of exercice.
2) I think you have to try to make some exercise before and after your practice (maybe muscle stretching). You must consider that pain part of your practice, just observe it, how can you stay observing that pain without thoughts?
3) I don't know, do you feel that sensation some hours after your practice or is it only during your practice?


Re: Cramps in leg/restless leg
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 02:13:44 PM »

idud has good points about exercise and stretching. Did you try moving your foot if cramp/pain gets unbearable?

I'd add that trying to mindfully observe this restlessness might help. That's where vipassana comes in handy - and given that Buddha didn't teach those practices separately from each other, you might greatly benefit from combining shamatha with vipassana.

From my own practice, I find that it's hard to get rid of anxiety associated with physical pain if you don't pay mindful attention to it. As soon as you separate physical sensations from emotions that it triggers, it becomes much easier to deal with it. I've had instances where my body would start freaking out and get very restless before meditation time was up. The worst thing you can do then is fighting it. Accepting and observing those feelings should help you get to the root causes.

Yesterday, I was sitting in my convoluted half-half-lotus posture, and my left leg fell completely asleep. It happened very gradually, so I didn't notice it. At some point I decided to wiggle my toes. My right foot responded fine, but left one was gone completely. This realization immediately triggered an anxiety/fear - "is this something to be concerned about?" - "is that circulation cut off or pinched nerve?" - "the foot looks red, so it's not circulation issue" etc etc etc. I even poked my foot and it felt like a hunk of meat - no sensation at all. It was fun observing my own mind freaking out about this :) Just earlier in the day I was rereading a few passages about problems that occur during meditation, and one of them is legs falling asleep. Intellectually, I know that it's nothing to worry about, but it's a whole other situation on the subconscious level.

Last but not least, I know that severe cramping constitutes muscle spasm of sorts, which can be very painful - so take care not to push it too far. Also, they say potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, help prevent cramping. But hopefully, it's more restlessness than cramping, though.


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