Tired and aching legs can involve having a stiff and heavy feeling in the legs. It may feel difficult to lift your legs when walking and it may feel like you have to drag your legs to move.
Depending on the underlying cause, aching legs may appear swollen, pale or blue, bumpy, or with sores that do not heal.
What Causes Tired and Aching Legs?
There are a variety of reasons why your legs may feel tired. The cause could be as simple as overuse such as when you move around frequently or stand for a long time without getting enough rest in between, or underuse which is when you are seated or lying down for too long.
Conversely, tired legs may be caused by a more serious underlying issue. Some of these are as follows:
Hypokalemia: A condition wherein the level of potassium in the blood is low, resulting in fatigue, muscle cramps, and muscle weakness.
Poor blood circulation: This can occur when it becomes difficult for the body to bring the blood back up to the heart, so the blood pools in the legs, ankles, and feet.
Varicose veins: These are veins that have become swollen, enlarged, and twisted because the valves inside that prevent the backflow of the blood have become damaged.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD): A disease that occurs when fat builds up in the arteries causing them to narrow resulting in decreased blood flow in the area.
Lumbar spinal stenosis: This occurs when the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord, in the lower back area becomes narrowed. This can put pressure on the nerves that go to the muscles of the legs, resulting in pain, numbness, and weakness.
Should I Worry About Tired and Aching Legs?
Aching legs is fairly common and can occur to many people. We sometimes forget to rest or move around because of working too hard. In these instances, tired legs can be easily relieved.
However, if it bothers your daily activities or it happens frequently, you will want to see your doctor and have your legs checked.
Your doctor will evaluate your condition based on your medical history, family history, and lifestyle. You may need to undergo several tests to determine the cause of your aching legs.
Ways to Prevent Tired and Aching Legs
- There are several things you can do to help lower your chances of getting tired and aching legs.
- Take small, frequent breaks so you are not holding a certain position for too long.
- Avoid overworking your body. Have a day off after a physically demanding activity.
- If you are diagnosed with obesity, you will need to lose weight to decrease the added pressure in the joints of your lower body. Obesity could result in varicose veins, diabetes, and fat deposits in the arteries which could all lead to poor blood circulation.
- Eat a healthy diet and have a more active lifestyle.
- Stop or avoid smoking as nicotine can constrict blood flow.
- Elevate your legs above the heart after a tiring or physically-demanding day.
Dr Aarti is an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery) from Baroda Medical College (The Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda). Dr. Aarti has also completed her Masters of Medical Science and Technology from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.