Tired legs are common ailments that can be very uncomfortable.
Tired, heavy and swollen legs can be mainly caused by:
- heart disease, in which the heart muscle does not pump enough blood,
- kidney problems; the kidneys are a blood filter, a disorder of the kidneys can change the level of mineral salt in the blood, for example, potassium.
The most common reason is poor circulation.
The heart pumps blood into the arteries, from here it enters the capillaries and then flows back to the heart via veins.
Since the heart is above the legs, the blood must be pumped against gravity.
The muscle contraction of the legs and especially that of the calves works like a pump and:
- Compresses the veins,
- Pushes the blood upwards.
Inside the veins there are valves that prevent blood from flowing back.
If you sit for a long time and do not move your legs, the leg muscles do not compress sufficiently.
The consequences are:
- blood accumulation in the leg veins,
- Feeling of fatigue.
Causes of tired and aching legs
Possible causes of fatigue and simultaneous pain in the legs are:
Some medications can have side effects, including:
- severe fatigue,
This can be caused by excessive use of medications such as high-pressure drugs and drugs for elevated cholesterol, but also by drugs such as cocaine.
In addition to fatigue, decreased potassium causes:
- muscle spasms,
- stool constipation,
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
The doctor may perform a blood test to make an accurate diagnosis.
Normal levels of potassium in the blood vary between 3.6 and 4.8 millimoles per liter; a value below 2.5 mmol/l could be dangerous.
Sports & Training
People who practice extreme sports such as cycling (road bike or mountain bike), running, playing football, etc. may suffer from:
- muscle contractures,
- Lactic acid accumulation in the muscles.
These lead to pain and fatigue, but are temporary and usually pass after 24 – 48 hours.
Post-workout contractures are the most common causes of tired legs in children.
Rest breaks solve the problem within a day or two, but in the worst cases, therapy must help, for example:
- Massage therapy,
You can apply creams “against joint stiffness” or essential oils for faster healing.
Tired and heavy legs in the evening
As a rule, the legs are tired, especially in the evening, and the cause may be circulatory disorders.
During the day, blood accumulates in the veins due to a standing or sitting position.
At night, in a lying position, the blood flows more easily back to the heart.
Circulatory disorders: People with diabetes or smokers have circulatory problems in their legs.
Narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the leg muscles is called peripheral arterial disease.
The symptoms are usually severe pain and the feeling of burning.
Varicose veins: When the small valves in the leg veins stop working well, the blood accumulates, leading to swollen and dilated veins.
Painful legs are therefore a common symptom of varicose veins.
Varicose veins can become chronic if not treated promptly.
In the worst case, ulcers can form on the legs and feet – the so-called “ulcus cruris venosum”.
Deep vein thrombosis: When one of the deep leg veins is closed by a blood clot, it leads to:
- A swollen, overheated and hardened leg,
- Intense pain that is difficult to alleviate.
Usually, deep vein thrombosis occurs only on one leg, not both at the same time.
Modern lifestyle and circulatory disorders:
Men and women with a modern lifestyle are prone to venous blood stasis.
Increased blood rush in the veins:
- Dilates the vessel walls,
- Causes a malfunction of the venous valves, which prevents the blood from dropping downwards.
Varicose veins and swollen legs can be recognized externally by a purple discoloration.
About half of all women have vein problems by the age of 30, while the majority of older people have circulatory problems.
Women are affected much more often than men due to the hormone fluctuations that occur at certain stages of the menstrual cycle (especially before the start of the monthly mensis). In the last part of the menstrual cycle, hormones cause relaxation of the vein walls.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is usually not noticed. The first symptoms (for example, varicose veins or tired and heavy legs in the evening) are often not taken seriously.
Tired, heavy legs, varicose veins and tingling in the calves indicate that something needs to be done: edema (slight swelling of the legs) is the first stage of CVI (stage one).
Initially, overload and swelling during the night subside, but this temporary relief no longer occurs as the disease progresses.
At the last stage, the legs are constantly tired and heavy (throughout the day).
Tired and heavy legs in the morning
Causes of heavy legs in the morning include:
- fibromyalgia, the person is more tired when waking up than the night before,
- anxiety and depression, usually the worst moment is in the morning,
- African trypanosomiasis, difficulty getting up in the morning,
- Lupus, the morning stiffness is typical.
Anxiety and depression
Depression and anxiety can affect the body and mind.
A depressive attack can interfere with normal bodily functions and cause extreme fatigue.
Other symptoms of this condition include:
- Long-lasting and unexplained periods of muscle pain,
- loss of appetite,
Anxiety can interfere with restful sleep. Thus, in the morning (after awakening) the legs may be tired, for this may occur:
- Tingling on hands and feet.
Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes the following symptoms:
- Diffuse pain throughout the body,
- Feeling aching and tired legs.
In this chronic disease, the affected person suffers pain in the musculoskeletal system.
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating and memory.
These complaints are more common in women than in men.
African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is a parasitic infection transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly.
Symptoms of this disease are:
- Joint pain
- Itching at the site of the insect bite.
As the disease progresses, the central nervous system is damaged and the affected person suffers:
- Lack of sensory coordination.
The patient seems to be tired all the time.
This condition can be transmitted from one person to another through sexual intercourse.
A well-known autoimmune disease called lupus erythematosus is responsible for muscle pain and fatigue.
These disorders can cause various systemic problems in the body, because the immune system also attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body.
Inflammation of the joints and muscles can lead to pain and numbness, which also affects organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys, etc.
Risk factors for tired and heavy legs
- Long journeys,
- over 40 years of age,
- Sitting or standing for too long,
- Standing work,
- poor diet,
- Hot climate (for example, in summer),
- Surgical intervention or past trauma,
- Tight and fitting clothing,
- infectious diseases, hypothyroidism (decreased production of thyroid hormone), liver or kidney diseases,
- Hormone substitution.
Other symptoms in tired legs
In addition to fatigue, the legs can also:
- Be heavy,
- Being swollen, even in bed and at rest.
Therapy for tired and heavy legs
In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, the following are recommended:
- Gymnastic exercises for the ankles,
- Foot baths in cold water to relieve symptoms.
Herbal medicine can be an effective therapy, especially herbal products with:
- red wine leaves,
- Extract of pine and chestnut bark.
These products contain substances with vasoconstrictive, antioxidant and decongestant action that help reduce swelling on the legs and ankles.
In severe chronic venous insufficiency, the therapies only help to stop the progression of the disease.
What should you do with tired and heavy legs?
The answers are obvious:
- Eat healthily,
- reduce excess weight,
- Regular physical exercise.
Natural remedies for tired and heavy legs
In case of water retention
A home remedy for swollen and tired legs is to place a pillow under the ankles while sleeping to keep the legs above heart level.
This reduces water retention or inflammation in legs, ankles or feet after sleeping.
There are various therapies that can be used against swollen legs, for example:
- exercises for the legs,
- Lymphatic drainage
- Vascular treatment.
The contraction of the calf muscles squeezes the veins and drives the blood to the heart.
Physical exercises that squeeze these muscles include:
- Take a walk,
- leg press in the gym,
- Toe stand.
It is recommended to walk for half an hour in the morning or evening.
People who work standing up should tiptoe more often during the day.
Bathe calves and feet in hot water or swim in a warm water pool.
The heat relaxes the muscles and promotes blood circulation.
The exercises in a warm environment, where the water reaches to the hips, reduce the pain in the legs in women with fibromyalgia.
These women experience long-term improvement in symptoms and an increase in muscle strength at the end of the program.
Change shoes. Incorrect footwear can cause postural damage and increase the load on the musculoskeletal system, namely:
Wear shoes that fit well, give support to the body and are comfortable.
In case of mineral salt loss
The doctor may recommend taking magnesium and potassium, he may also advise to:
- Sufficient amount of drinking,
- Foods with high mineral salt content (for example, bananas and green-leafed vegetables).
- Pain in the right or left leg
- Pain in the right or left shoulder blade
- Sudden or spontaneous bruises on the leg