What to know about tired legs
Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH — Written by Steph Coelho on August 18, 2020
When to see a doctor
Many people will experience the feeling of tired legs at one point or another. The lower body carries the weight of the upper body, and sitting or standing for a long time can cause the legs to feel tired and heavy. A variety of underlying factors can also cause leg discomfort.
Anyone who has chronically tired legs should seek a diagnosis in case treatment is necessary.
In this article, we look at the possible causes of this symptom, as well as the treatments and home remedies.
A person may experience tired legs after vigorous exercise.
A person who has tired legs may also experience leg pain, cramping, and soreness. If a person occasionally has tired legs, they may be able to resolve the symptoms easily with rest or gentle movement.
If the heaviness involves additional symptoms, is out of the ordinary, and has no apparent cause, it may be the result of a condition that requires treatment.
Here are some of the possible causes for tired and heavy legs:
Too much exercise
It can be normal for the legs to feel tired after vigorous exercise, especially when a person works out more than they would usually.
Without proper rest, muscles, including those in the lower body, are unable to recover properly. Working out too hard or without proper rest may lead to a feeling of tired, heavy legs.
Proper rest reduces the chance of health issues and undue stress on the body.
People who stand all day for work are also at risk for leg-related symptoms, including tired, heavy legs. If possible, these individuals should take frequent breaks to rest their legs and avoid overuse.
Too little exercise
Limited movement can also cause leg fatigue. People who sit all day or take time off from exercise may experience heaviness in their legs.
Resuming activity or taking breaks to stand and walk throughout the day can help.
Restless leg syndrome
People with restless leg syndrome experience uncomfortable sensations in the legs, such as aching, throbbing, and the urge to move these limbs. The condition often occurs at night and disrupts sleep.
Moving the legs can provide temporary relief and resolve the discomfort.
Too much exercise or inadequate stretching of the muscles can lead to cramping in the legs. Cramping can range from a small tic to severe pain, and the legs may feel tired and heavy.
People with cramping should rest until it goes away. If cramping persists or occurs frequently, they should seek medical help.
People with varicose veins may experience heavy, tired legs.
Those with this condition have veins that do not adequately circulate blood. When blood does not circulate properly, it begins to pool, causing the veins to swell.
The following home remedies can help with varicose veins:
doing regular exercise
elevating the legs
wearing compression stockings
People whose symptoms do not improve should make an appointment with their doctor.
When a person is low in potassium, they may experience hypokalemia which can cause:
excessive thirst and need to urinate
Some medications may cause hypokalemia. A doctor can verify whether drugs or an underlying condition is the cause.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
People with CVI have weak veins and valves, which lead to poor circulation. Those with the condition may experience leg tiredness, swelling, and varicose veins.
Researchers have associated prolonged standing, such as for work, with an increased risk of CVI, as standing strains the body’s veins.
Other risk factors for CVI include:
For people who have no other complications, the treatment for CVI usually involves compression therapy, such as wearing compression stockings.
Pregnancy can cause leg swelling, which can be uncomfortable and lead to tiredness in the lower body. Leg swelling is the result of:
the growing womb increasing pressure in the veins
Anyone with sudden or severe swelling during pregnancy should seek medical help, as it may be a sign of preeclampsia.
Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person carries excess weight or body fat. People with obesity may experience tired, heavy legs.
Added weight puts pressure on the joints, tendons, and muscles in the lower body.
People with obesity have lower relative muscle strength in their legs than those without this condition. This lack of relative strength can cause the leg muscles to feel weak and tired.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD is a circulatory issue that affects the body’s veins and arteries. Symptoms begin when fat clogs the arteries and blocks blood flow.
PAD symptoms, including tired limbs and aching muscles, are common in the legs because PAD can lim