Do tired legs keep you off your feet?
You are not alone. Many people experience tired legs at some point, and it is not an uncommon symptom. However, the cause of leg fatigue may be different for everyone.
Should you experience persistent leg fatigue, seeking a medical evaluation can help you determine the underlying cause. Understanding your symptoms and any risk factors can help your doctor determine whether the source is muscular or, perhaps, a venous disorder.
In this article, we will discuss various causes of leg fatigue, symptoms and what treatment is available.
What Does It Mean When Your Legs Feel Tired?
Leg fatigue occurs when you are not able to stay on your feet for very long. It may feel like you have overexerted your leg muscles. Legs can feel heavy, making it difficult to lift or move them as you would normally.
You may also experience a general achiness, soreness or cramping in the legs, often accompanied by a dull throbbing in the leg veins and muscles.
What Causes Leg Fatigue?
Typically, tired legs are not a reason to worry. However, there are health conditions and risk factors that can be the cause of leg fatigue.
Pay attention to when you feel unusually fatigued, especially when you experience additional symptoms.
Causes of Leg Fatigue:
Overuse or Overtraining
If you exert too much pressure or stress on your legs or use them more than usual, they will likely feel fatigued. This may often be common in competitive runners or cyclists who tend to challenge their limits when training.
A healthy solution is to gauge your body’s limits and allow for proper recovery and rest to avoid injury.
Not Using your Legs Enough
Not getting enough movement or exercise can also lead to leg fatigue. When your muscles stay idle for too long, they tend to get tired and sluggish.
If your job requires you to sit for long periods, make sure to get up and move around every hour, whenever possible. The movement will encourage blood circulation, which will help combat leg fatigue.
Hypokalemia refers to a severe deficiency of potassium in your blood. A slight decline in potassium levels will not typically result in noticeable symptoms. However, when potassium levels drop well below the normal range, it may trigger the following symptoms:
- Cramping in legs
Certain medical conditions may lead to low potassium levels. If you suspect this may be the case, consult a doctor to find an effective solution.
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
PVD is a slow and progressive circulation condition, in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
Depending on how far advanced the disease is, PVD produces many symptoms, including heavy and tired legs, leg numbness or weakness. When blood flow is put at risk by the hardening or narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), you may experience heaviness or swelling in the legs.
PVD can create a diffused aching or throbbing pain in the legs, making it seem like you’re walking with brick shoes on.
If blood is not circulating through your veins properly, it can cause your legs to feel fatigued. The lower extremities are at risk for poor circulation, which may be due to the impact of gravity, making it harder to push blood back up to your heart.
As a result, your muscles have to work harder, which can cause fatigue.
You can improve leg circulation by:
- Exercising your legs more often
- Avoiding clothing that cuts off circulation
- Staying on top of any health conditions that affect your circulation
Leg fatigue may also be a symptom of varicose veins.
Varicose veins impact your blood flow, preventing blood from adequately circulating back to the heart. This may lead to blood pooling in the leg veins, causing them to enlarge and swell. Varicose veins are visible under the skin as enlarged, knotted or bumpy veins.
While leg fatigue can affect anyone, some people have a higher risk of developing the symptom.
These risk factors include:
- Pregnancy increases the weight a woman has to carry, putting increased pressure on the veins in her legs and lower extremities.
- Obesity or being overweight puts pressure and stress on your legs, restricting the blood flow and causing fatigue.
- Smoking can lead to potential damage to the veins and arteries in your body, weakening their functionality.
- Health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular diseases can increase the likelihood of arterial or venous damage, which can cause leg fatigue.
What Can You Do About Aching Tired Legs?
Though tired legs alone might not hint at a serious condition, the presence of other symptoms makes it pertinent that you rule out anything serious.
You can supplement your doctor’s guidelines with the following:
Warm Baths and Foot Soaks
If your leg muscles are tense or stiff, they can feel fatigued and sluggish. Try taking a warm bath or soaking your legs in warm water. This may help relax your legs and boost circulation.
Provided that you do not have an existing venous disorder, massage may help relieve leg fatigue. Make sure that you book an appointment with a licensed massage therapist.
Daily exercise that engages your leg muscles can help improve circulation and relieve leg fatigue.
Several lifestyle changes can can make an impact in relieving leg fatigue:
- Losing excess weight
- Staying hydrated
- Quitting smoking
With rest and some movement, tired legs will typically get better on their own.
If your leg fatigue persists for more than a few days, consult with a doctor. Dr. Ryan Jones is well versed in the underlying conditions that contribute to this symptom and can help you rule out underlying causes to your leg fatigue.