legs feel heavy legs feel heavy

Why Do Your Legs Feel Heavy? Causes, Risk Factors, and How to Relieve Them

There isn’t a single person out there who hasn’t experienced heavy legs1. It’s like you’re walking around with weights attached to your hips. And this can last for hours or even days. We’ll get down to the bottom of what causes heavy legs in this comprehensive guide. Plus, we’ll give you some practical tips for relief and prevention.

Studies suggest that if you’re a woman, you might be more likely to experience this sensation than men.

Causes of Heavy Legs

Poor Circulation Explained

One of the leading causes of heavy legs is poor circulation2. When blood flow to the legs is hindered, our legs start feeling heavier and heavier. An example of a condition that causes poor circulation is peripheral arterial disease (PAD). It narrows arteries, blocking blood flow to healthy veins in the limbs.

Venous Insufficiency

A common cause of heavy legs is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). It occurs when veins and valves in leg blood vessels are not functioning correctly. Blood then has a hard time returning from the legs to the heart. Symptoms include swelling, varicose veins, and heaviness in the legs.

varicose veins
varicose veins. Source: Freepik

Identifying Risk Factors

To identify risk factors that contribute to heavy legs we look at people with long-term standing jobs, obesity, sedentary lifestyles3, and medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Of course genetics also play a role.

Understanding Poor Circulation

Poor circulation doesn’t just mean we have restless leg syndrome or feel something weird inside our bodies. It affects our overall health as well by increasing risks for other diseases related to circulatory issues.

Relief Tips for Heavy Legs

Elevate Those Legs!

By raising your feet you help increase venous return and decrease swelling, which ultimately alleviates that sensation of heavy legs. And you can do this in the comfort of your home.

Switch Positions Often

You might have noticed that your legs feel heavy when you sit for too long. And then after you get up and walk around they start feeling normal again. This is because changing positions will help improve blood flow and circulation, which relieves pressure on leg veins.

Wear Compression Socks

Compression socks are made to squeeze the legs. This pressure helps veins move blood more efficiently from the legs to the heart. And it’s perfect for people with CVI or PAD.

Change Your Lifestyle

If your heavy leg symptoms are mild but still annoying, you could consider making lifestyle changes. Something as simple as getting regular exercise4, following a balanced diet, and keeping weight in check can significantly affect heaviness severity.

Lowering Sodium Intake

Foods high in sodium can make us retain water longer than we should. And this leads to swelling in our legs. So by cutting back on salt we prevent these symptoms from happening.

Stop Smoking!

Smoking5 makes our already poor circulation even worse. It also makes chronic heavy legs worse as well. So just quit smoking! It does nothing good for us.

Stay Moving

Staying physically active especially with our legs boosts blood circulation and strength, which prevents that sensation of heaviness from creeping up on us. Even a simple 30 minute walk every day can make a difference!

Manage Weight

How much we weigh adds stress to our circulatory system along with our legs. Keep weight under control by eating healthy and exercising regularly to reduce that heaviness risk.

blood flow
lack of blood flow. Source: Freepik

Final Thoughts

If your legs feel heavy, you already know that this condition is a burden. It’s terrible for comfort, and dangerous for your health. If you know what’s causing it though, you can stop it.

Make the right choices every day, and stay consistent — the only way to find relief. To get better leg health and lose weight, make small changes to your daily life.

By doing things like working with your doctor, making better diet choices, and paying attention to the risk factors that could cause it – you’ll feel much better.

  1. Varlet‐Marie, E., et al. “Is the feeling of heavy legs in overtrained athletes related to impaired hemorheology?.” Clinical hemorheology and microcirculation 28.3 (2003): 151-159. ↩︎
  2. Yoshitani, K., et al. “Effect of alpha-glucosylhesperidin on poor circulation in women.” Journal of Japanese Society of Nutrition and Food Science (Japan) 61.5 (2008). ↩︎
  3. Park, Jung Ha, et al. “Sedentary lifestyle: overview of updated evidence of potential health risks.” Korean journal of family medicine 41.6 (2020): 365. ↩︎
  4. De Moor, Marleen HM, et al. “Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: a population-based study.” Preventive medicine 42.4 (2006): 273-279. ↩︎
  5. Yanbaeva, Dilyara G., et al. “Systemic effects of smoking.” Chest 131.5 (2007): 1557-1566. ↩︎

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