It is not uncommon to experience tired legs from time to time, especially after a vigorous workout. However, legs that frequently feel stiff, tired, and heavy can signify an underlying health condition or vein disease.
If you find it hard to lift and move your legs, several conditions may be causing these symptoms. Uncovering the root cause is the first step in relieving your discomfort and finding the appropriate treatment.
Causes of Heavy Legs
There are several reasons why legs can feel heavy, including vein disorders that need to be evaluated and treated by a specialist.
Typically found in the legs and feet, varicose veins are enlarged, bulging, bluish-purple veins. They may appear twisted, bumpy, or ropey.
Varicose veins are the result of weakened valves inside the veins that allow blood to pool in the legs and feet. Pooling blood and poor circulation can cause the legs to feel heavy and tired.
Several risk factors increase the development of varicose veins, such as:
- Menopause and Hormonal Fluctuations
- Family History
- Standing or sitting for extended periods
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Heavy legs may be caused by a progressive vein condition called Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI).
CVI develops when the veins and valves become weakened, allowing blood to flow backward, pooling in the legs and feet.
Risk factors that may increase the chances of developing CVI include:
- Poor diet
- Lack of Exercise
- Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
Additional Causes of Heavy Legs:
When your body carries excess weight, more pressure is put upon the legs' muscles, joints, and tendons. This pressure is more severe if you stand for extended periods.
Also, should obesity be linked to a more sedentary lifestyle, poor circulation may cause heavy, tired legs.
During pregnancy, the sensation of heavy legs is common and most likely attributed to increased blood volume, extra weight gained during pregnancy, and the hormonal changes a woman's body undergoes.
If you are pregnant and have the following risk factors, you should monitor heavy leg symptoms and discuss any growing discomfort with your doctor:
- Family history of vein disease
- Strenuous work when pregnant
- Lead a sedentary lifestyle
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a serious cardiovascular disease that affects veins and arteries. As fat builds up in the arteries, people begin to experience symptoms as blood cannot smoothly flow through the veins.
PAD is particularly common in the legs where it can lead to circulation being slow or partially cut off, resulting in heaviness, aching and cramping in the legs and feet.
Risk factors that increase developing PAD include smoking, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes.
After an intense or vigorous workout, it is not uncommon to feel tiredness in the legs. However, if you have pushed yourself too hard, you may be overtraining your muscles.
When muscles are overtrained, they do not have sufficient time to repair themselves before they are being used again. The result is heavy, tired, or weak muscles.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is when your legs feel an uncontrollable shakiness, numbness, or need to move. Many people, in addition to the restlessness, also experience a heavy feeling in their legs.
Often, moving your legs will bring temporary relief, or changing position.
Symptoms of Heavy Legs May Include:
- Spider Veins
- Skin discoloration
- Numbness or stiffness in the leg
- Pain, aching or throbbing in one or both legs
- Difficulty standing or walking as day progresses Also, heavy legs may appear
- Pale or Bluish
How Can I Alleviate My Symptoms At Home?
There are several lifestyle changes you can make at home that may alleviate the discomfort of heavy legs.
Elevate Your Legs
Elevating your legs above your heart can help blood circulate back through your body and to your heart more efficiently.
If you have a job that requires you to sit or stand for long periods, make sure to get up throughout the day and walk or stretch your body. This will help boost your circulation and may improve symptoms of heaviness in the legs.
Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks help promote blood flow up from your legs to your heart and prevent blood from pooling in the lower legs and feet.
Smoking slows down blood circulation and can increase your risk of developing blood clots. Weak or slow blood flow may contribute to the feeling of heavy legs
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity puts added pressure on your veins and can cause varicose veins, as well as diabetes. Also, obesity increases your risk of fatty deposits building up in the arteries, blocking healthy blood flow.
Watch Your Sodium Intake
Too much sodium may result in heavy and swollen legs in some people. Reducing your salt may help alleviate your symptoms. Speak with your doctor about what your daily intake should be.
Increase Daily Activity
One of the most effective ways to improve and boost your circulation is to increase your activity levels. Walking or swimming are both low-impact exercises that can help control weight, lower your cholesterol, and improve circulation.
Avoid Hot Baths
Heat causes the veins to widen and expand, which lowers blood pressure, making it harder for blood to flow through to the legs. If your symptoms increase when soaking in a hot bath, you will want to minimize this activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Feeling tired in the legs on occasion is not unusual. However, if symptoms are persistent, and if lifestyle changes and home remedies are not sufficient, it is essential to make an appointment with your vein doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions.
Also, if you are experiencing swelling or pain in addition to the sensation of heavy legs, you should have a doctor evaluate your symptoms as soon as possible as this may be a sign of vein disease.