Several times I have read with fellow sufferers about their experience with Relegs. Some fellow sufferers ask questions about this on a peer support forum. They are curious if Relegs might also be able to help them with RLS.
These kinds of devices usually only work for a part of the people. I read that on the Relegs website as well. If I am to believe the messages on this website, Relegs helps about two thirds of the users.
Recently I received an email from Bryan from Relegs. He asked if I wanted to try Relegs. I did.
What is Relegs
On the Relegs website I first try to get a clearer picture of the product.
Relegs appears to have originated in a collaboration between van Casper van Waveren and Erik van der Heide. Casper is a doctor and has RLS himself. Erik is aerospace engineer. Relegs was eventually developed at the European Space Agency (ESA) in Noordwijk.
According to the instruction, you apply Relegs to the inside of the calf with an electrode patch. I understand that another spot on the leg is also possible if desired. This is a matter of trial and error.
The moment you experience complaints, you bring out Relegs. For most this is in the evening or at night. Some also suffer during the day. You control Relegs by tapping on them, depending on whether you want to turn the stimulator on or off and louder or softer.
An electrode patch does not last forever. You will have to replace these over time. The patches can be purchased via the website. They are not cheap.
The device can go under your clothes if you use it during the day. It can be operated manually.
The Relegs offers a form of symptom relief. It doesn’t cure the restless legs, but it can relieve the symptoms.
Bryan works quickly with the shipment and within a few days of the first contact I have the package at home.
Clearly attention has been paid to the design of this product. Relegs is small and handy, as are the electrode patches.
In recent years I have tried quite a few things for my restless legs. Most things don’t help, or they help a little or temporarily. That is why I am starting this process without too high expectations.
Trying something new is always a bit of a hassle. You have to get used to something. I also always have to muster some courage. To keep the test clean, I never test more than one thing at a time.
Before I start testing Relegs, I carefully read the user manual and watch a few instructional videos on Youtube. Those are pretty clear.
According to the instructions for use, the stimulator works for half an hour at a time and then switches off automatically. The treatment can be extended if desired. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to sleep with Relegs on my leg.
I also read that the electrode patch can be stored for a year in the supplied, resealable plastic bag. Once the pouch is opened, the patch will last (at least) one month.
The first day
Now I have to decide which leg to put the Relegs on. I find that quite a difficult choice, because I always have complaints in both calves.
Would wearing the Relegs on one leg be enough? Well, first let’s see if the device does anything for me at all.
Another question is where on the calf will I stick the electrode patch.
I choose the spot on the calf that Casper van Waveren shows in his instructional videos. That spot is a bit on the side and on the inside of the lower leg. This way I can easily see and tap the massager.
Luckily I don’t have much hair on my legs. That is easier in connection with sticking (and removing) the electrode patch.
I charge the small box with the supplied USB stick.
During an extra bad night I put the test for the first time.
I clean the inside of my right lower leg with a wet washcloth and dry the area well. Then I open the resealable bag with the two electrode patches and stick one of them on my leg.
I simply click the white box onto the two contact points on the plaster with the magnet system.
I tap the stimulator twice and the pulsing starts. Lying on my side, I undergo the program. The streams change in strength and character. The device switches itself off automatically after half an hour.
I choose to remove the plaster and stimulator from my leg. Then my leg is free and I sleep a little more peacefully. I also do it because I don’t know if I can damage the Relegs while sleeping.
I still feel the effect for a while.
During the treatment I can lie down without complaints. Even afterwards it feels good in my right leg. There is some discomfort in my left leg, but I really have less complaints.
The second night I bring out the Relegs earlier. My restless legs are severe and lying down is no fun.
The pulsing is less strong this time. At first I think it’s the battery, but maybe it’s just the lightest setting that automatically turns on if I don’t set anything. I decide to refer to this manual again later.
I sit (or rather lie) through this lighter program and see what happens. The advantage of this lighter program is that I wake up less from the intensity. It slumbers on and in my leg. I’m falling asleep.
When I wake up again, I notice that the box has come loose from the electrode patch. I take the whole construction off and store it neatly. Then I continue my night’s sleep.
I can still feel my restless legs for the rest of the night, but the symptoms are milder, just like during the first night of testing. In the morning it gets a bit more annoying, but all in all it’s doable.
Just to be sure, I charge the battery in the morning.
The third night turns out to be a night that doesn’t help. For many fellow sufferers this is a recognizable experience. You can stand on your head, so to speak, but the complaints remain severe the whole night.
Normally I have a good package of interventions to deal with this situation. They are ways that help to deal better with my complaints. This prevents aggravation due to stress.
Tonight, however, I’ll start with the Relegs. That doesn’t work out right away. The streams and pulsations in my leg almost feel like a trigger. I can hardly stay with it.
Fortunately, it feels a little better after the treatment.
I sleep for a while, but unfortunately wake up again with significant RLS. I now decide to apply the Relegs on the other leg. That goes well and I fall asleep during the treatment.
However, I am not there yet. After that I wake up quite a few times, each time after little naps. Then my legs go wild.
Finally, the alarm goes off in the morning. Pffff.
Calibration of Relegs
In the nights that follow I have to deal with something that I do not immediately understand. The pulses suddenly feel very weak. At first I think the battery may not be working well anymore.
I am considering notifying Bryan, but my (technical) partner Martijn comes up with the solution after thorough study of the manual.
What seems to be the case? I probably once unnoticed tapped the Relegs three times and put the device in the so-called calibration mode. With Relegs with a certain serial number (21 or higher), this is an extra function that allows you to set the four intensity settings together higher or lower.
So I probably accidentally set the Relegs to the lowest calibration setting. As a result, even the highest of the four positions was still very weak.
Martijn and I reset the calibration so that it is right for me. This is all too complicated for the layman. I never would have come up with this myself.
Does Relegs help
For me it is clear that the Relegs really does something. I have never experienced this to this extent with any device or tool before.
I think the big advantage of Relegs is that you can stay in bed while the stimulator does its job. That is a difference with, for example, a vibrating plate.
A disadvantage is that you have to get out of it to apply Relegs and remove them again. Personally, I prefer not to have an electronic device on my leg when I sleep.
I also noticed that the device is quite sensitive to mild shocks. This means that you have to lie still in bed which is unhandy when you want to fall asleep.
Turning it off also did not always work easily. Sometimes tapping two times did the trick. Other times I had to repeat the tapping several times before it worked.
The three nights I describe above indicate that the effect of Relegs on me differs per night. That is also because my complaints can vary per night.
I have noticed that it makes a lot of difference where exactly on the calf muscle I place the device. The strength of the pulsations is of course also a factor. These are things to fine-tune with every use.
The Relegs seems to me at least a nice device to keep on hand, at least when it is working well technically. Your complaints will not go away, but they may become a bit more bearable.