Why are my legs tired?
Tired legs are a fairly common symptom with a variety of underlying factors. You may have an increased risk for tired legs if you’re female, overweight, or older. Tired legs can also occur in people who regularly sit or stand for extended periods of time.
Read on to learn more about this symptom, including common causes and treatments.
8 causes for tired legs
A variety of factors can cause tired legs. Tired legs may be accompanied by pain, soreness, or cramping. Tired legs aren’t usually a cause for concern, but it’s still important to pay attention to your body when tiredness occurs. This is especially so if you have other symptoms.
Here are some possible causes for tired legs:
If you’ve recently used your legs more than normal, they may feel tired. Make sure you’re getting enough rest and working within the limits of your body. This will help you avoid stress, strain, and injury.
If you frequently use your legs while working, take plenty of breaks throughout the day.
Not using your legs can also cause leg tiredness. If you have to sit for extended periods, make a point to stand and be active for at least five minutes every hour.
If you’re spending an extended amount of time in bed, do simple leg-raising exercises and stretches each hour. Elevate your legs on pillows.
3. Muscle cramps
Overuse of your legs can lead to muscle cramps. Muscle cramps can cause your legs to feel tired.
Allow your legs and body plenty of time to rest until your symptoms subside. See your doctor if cramping becomes severe. Here are more ways to stop leg muscle cramps.
Hypokalemia occurs when you have low levels of potassium in the bloodstream. This can cause:
- cramping in the legs
Certain medications or conditions may cause hypokalemia. See your doctor to determine the underlying cause and best treatment option for you.
5. Varicose veins
You may have tired, heavy, or aching legs if you have varicose veins. These occur when your veins don’t work properly and begin to collect blood. This causes your veins to enlarge and swell.
Usually self-care measures, such as exercise, elevation, and compression stockings, can help alleviate these symptoms. See your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.
6. Poor circulation
Your legs may feel tired or fatigued if your blood isn’t circulating through your body properly. Poor circulation often affects the lower part of your body since it’s harder for blood to flow upward toward your heart. Sometimes blood can collect in your legs, ankles, and feet.
You may be able to improve poor circulation by:
- moving more
- avoiding tight clothing
- managing underlying conditions, such as diabetes
See your doctor if you’ve taken steps to improve your circulation but haven’t seen improvement. Your doctor may prescribe medication to improve your circulation.
Swelling in pregnancy can be caused by:
- fluid retention
- increased pressure on veins
Your legs may feel tired and uncomfortable as a result. You may experience cramping and varicose veins.
Sleeping on your left side can help reduce some of the pressure from the vein that circulates blood from your lower body to your heart. You can also try these five exercises.
See your doctor if you experience any sudden or severe swelling. This could be a sign of preeclampsia.
8. Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Muscle fatigue or heavy legs can be a sign of MS. In fact, fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom among people with this condition. Heat and humidity may make fatigue worse.
MS causes fatigue because the condition affects your nerves and disrupts the communication between your brain and your muscles.
Other symptoms of MS include:
- blurred or double vision, or loss of vision
- tingling and numbness
- pains or muscle spasms
- loss of balance or feelings of dizziness
- bladder issues
- sexual dysfunction
- difficulty concentrating, staying organized, or remembering things
MS requires a diagnosis from your doctor. Talk to your doctor if you suspect MS.
How to treat tired legs at home
In many cases, you can treat tired legs at home.
1. Dry brushing
Dry brushing may help stimulate circulation, boost energy, and promote lymphatic drainage. An added benefit of dry brushing is that it can help exfoliate your skin.
Use a brush with natural bristles. Start with your feet and move upward toward your heart. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes before a cool shower.
2. Warm bath
Soaking in a warm bath can help you relax while taking pressure off your legs and boosting circulation. Add up to 2 cups of sea salt, Epsom salt, or baking soda. Soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes.
3. Foot bath
A foot bath may help revive tired feet by reducing aches, pain, and inflammation.
Add 1 cup each of Epsom salt, sea salt, and vinegar to a warm tub of water. Soak your feet for at least 20 minutes.
4. Apple cider vinegar
One study found that using apple cider vinegar topically may help reduce varicose veins symptoms, such as cramping, pain, and fatigue.
You can rub the vinegar onto your legs, or you could try adding some to a bath.
5. RICE method
This approach involves the following:
- Rest. Take a break and rest your legs. Let your body recover.
- Ice. You can ice your legs or soak them in ice water for 20 minutes at a time. Do this a few times per day.
- Compression. Wrap your legs in a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Elevation. Keep your legs raised with some pillows to reduce any swelling or discomfort.
This technique may help improve circulation as well as relieve discomfort and swelling.
A massage may help relieve leg fatigue. If it’s possible, book a massage with a certified massage therapist. You can also practice self-massage by rubbing an oil or ointment into your feet and legs.
You may wish to use a capsaicin gel or cream for pain relief and improved circulation.
7. Simple exercises
There are some simple exercises you can do to help relieve tired legs. Even a minute of these exercises can get your blood flowing.
- Try rolling a tennis ball under your feet while you’re sitting.
- Roll your ankles in a clockwise motion, one at a time. Imagine you’re drawing a circle on the floor. You can do this either while sitting or standing.
- While standing, alternate between going up on your tippy-toes and returning both feet to the floor.
- Do jumping jacks, squats, or jog in place.
How to prevent tired legs
There are some things you can do to prevent or reduce your risk for tired legs:
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet to ensure you’re getting your daily recommended amounts of nutrients. This helps provide you with the energy to go about your daily activities.
- Get plenty of vitamin D from direct sun exposure or your diet.
- Wear proper footwear, especially when you’ll be on your feet for a long time. Choose a shoe that’s supportive, comfortable, and fits correctly. Add padded insoles for additional support.
- Get up and get moving as often as possible. Make an effort to exercise each day for at least 15 minutes. Move around or stretch for at least five minutes for each hour that you’re sedentary.
- Keep your legs uncrossed while you’re sitting.
- Sit up or stand tall, and maintain good posture.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Maintain an optimal weight.
- Wear compression stockings.
- Sleep with pillows underneath your feet.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Limit or avoid alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.
- If you smoke, quit.
When to seek help
Usually, resting and home remedies will be effective in relieving tired legs. However, if your legs still feel tired after at-home treatment or if the tiredness has persisted for more than a few days, make an appointment with your doctor.
Also see your doctor if you’re experiencing any pain, dysfunction, or discomfort. Your doctor can determine if there’s an underlying condition that’s causing your legs to be tired.
In most cases, taking time to rest and take care of yourself will be enough to regain energy in your legs. Your legs do a lot for you. They deserve a bit of special treatment every now and again!
But if you regularly experience a feeling of tiredness in your legs or have unexplained pain or swelling, talk to your doctor.