It has happened to most people from time to time, your legs feel heavy and it seems like it takes everything you have to walk. It is normal to feel this way occasionally after a great work out. If you haven’t been doing heavy exercises with your legs and you feel this way all the time, it could be a serious medical problem. You should see your medical doctor and let them know about this symptom. It could be nothing, but it could be PVD.
Medical Issues That Make Legs Feel Heavy
If your legs feel heavy often, it could be a sign of peripheral vascular disease. This is not just a sign of getting older, it is a serious circulation problem and can be life threatening. This is something you need to discuss with your physician and you’ll likely need a physical that centers around your circulatory system. If you’d like to study up on medical tests and how to do CPR, you can take an online class to learn more about what the doctor might recommend.
PVD (Peripheral Vascular Disease) is a common circulatory problem that affects about one in every five people over the age of 50. Symptoms include pain in the legs or the legs feeling very heavy when you walk or climb upstairs. After some rest the symptoms go away. What is going on is that the blood vessels are constricted due to too much cholesterol or plaque in the arteries. This plaque doesn’t leave enough room in the veins and arteries for the blood to flow like it needs to when you exercise. These symptoms can get very serious and cause a stroke or heart disease.
When you discuss this issue with your physician, you will be given a series of noninvasive tests that will determine whether or not you have PVD. These tests will include the ankle-brachial test (ABI). The ABI test compares the blood pressure in your ankle to your arm and will give a good indication if your legs are suffering from PVD. If it appears that blood flow is being blocked then more testing will be indicated.
It is important to take the time to discuss this issue of your legs feeling heavy with your doctor. To let PVD go untreated, you can end up having a stroke or developing heart disease. It isn’t just “getting older” or “working out too hard” when it is happening all the time.
More Causes of Legs Feeling Heavy
There are other causes of the legs feeling like they are just too heavy to continue walking or climbing. There are perfectly normal causes like pregnancy, sitting too long, crossing your legs or a very hot and humid day. These problems will happen from time to time and it is not necessary to go running to the doctor to report it.
Standing or sitting for hours at a time without getting up and walking around can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. This isn’t a serious condition, it happens only because you are not moving around. You might notice that your feet are swollen and legs feel stiff and heavy. Just walking around gets your blood flowing again and the problem is solved.
A hot and humid day can also cause swelling of the legs and feet. The heat of the day, particularly when drinking alcoholic drinks, can cause the blood to pool in the legs and feet. If you need to sit for long periods of time in the heat, reduce alcoholic beverages or don’t drink at all and walk around from time to time. This allows the blood to move and not pool in the legs and feet.
It is important to wear clothing that is comfortable and not extremely tight. Tight clothing can also constrict blood flow. If you cut off blood flow then your organs won’t be able to work properly, so literally, give yourself room to breathe when you buy a new outfit.
What to Do About Legs That Feel Heavy
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol or PVD, there are things you can do while you are getting treatment to help your circulation. There are easy and fun things to do that will help your blood flow a little better.
Splurge and get a full body massage. Well, it isn’t really a splurge. It is medically necessary to a certain extent because you need to do things that are going to help your blood flow. When your arteries are clogged up, you need all the help you can get and massage is a wonderful bit of help. The long strokes the massage therapist uses on the legs will always go up towards the heart. The reason for this is to help the blood push back up to where it is trying to go – to the heart. Getting an hour massage at least once per week can do wonders for your blood flow and help you to feel so much better.
Start a Walking Program
Start a walking program. You don’t have to be a power walker, you can walk just a mile or two every day and it will have a profound effect on your overall health and well being. Walking for an hour a day for a few days a week can reduce your blood pressure by quite a bit, also.
To start a walking program, plan out where you are going to walk and commit a certain amount of time to it every day. You might want to start with ½ an hour per day if you aren’t used to taking the time for a morning stroll. It might be easiest to get in your walk as soon as you roll out of bed. Put on your walking clothes, do some stretches and get out there and get it done. The advantage of walking very early in the morning is there is less traffic and there is less smog. If you work up a sweat then you’re covered because you haven’t taken your morning shower yet!
Try walking for ½ an hour a day at first. Walk as far as 15 minutes will take you then turn around and walk home. If that is too much in the beginning, then start with only 15 minutes per day. Go at an easy pace and don’t rush. Just walk. After a couple of weeks, add ten more minutes to your time and keep adding time until you are walking at least one hour per day, four days per week. You will notice a vast difference in how you think, how you feel and your heavy leg feeling will start to improve a little bit.
Take Up Yoga
Another easy, relaxing activity to greatly improve your body’s circulation is yoga. There are yoga classes everywhere these days and they cater to all sorts of styles and goals. You can even take a yoga class to improve your butt and legs! The great thing about yoga is that the slow movement and stretches will relax you, reduce anxiety and get your blood flowing nicely. When you are done with the class then you will feel refreshed and ready for anything.
Tai Chi Helps Improve Blood Circulation
You may have seen people practicing Tai Chi in the park or have seen photos of people in a Tai Chi class. There are usually several people lined up in a grid pattern and their arms are outstretched, moving slowly. They will twist and turn and stand then sit, all in slow rhythmic movements.
Tai Chi has been talked about a lot in the past couple of decades because of the great health benefits that are derived from it. Its origin was a martial art, but in the USA it is a way to keep very healthy. A great thing about Tai Chi is that you can start it even if you are in poor health. It is low impact and you are exercising in slow motion. You won’t realize that it is doing anything for you at all, but it is. It is just that easy on the body. It is a wonderful way to improve muscle function, circulation and blood pressure.
Get a Workout Program Started
Whether you take up walking, massage, Tai Chi or yoga, you really need to start some sort of workout program. Of course, you should speak with your physician about dietary changes and ask him or her how much activity you can endure with an exercise program. For some, a rigorous exercise program would not be a good idea and could do more harm than good. For others, they will be given the go ahead to go full steam ahead and take up racquetball or marathon running. But do speak with your doctor about it first if you have health issues. A lot of people need to take it easy when their cholesterol is so high that it is causing their legs to feel heavy or if you have pain.
Sometimes it is best to take it easy with an exercise program to improve blood circulation and your overall health. This is why walking, yoga and Tai Chi are so popular. You can do these health programs at any age and in any health condition, as there are classes for people in any shape. There are even Tai Chi classes for those who are in a wheel chair or just recovering from surgery.
If the reason your legs feel heavy is just a matter of sitting around too much and you are in great health, then go for it. You can take a class to get athletic legs or a class to get a total hot body! Just set your mind to improving your health. Yes, it is a real pain to get going at first, but as you continue you will start to feel so much better. When your circulation improves then you will be able to think better, your blood pressure will go down and you will have a lot more energy every day. You will even sleep better at night and be in a great mood during the day. Maybe your legs feeling heavy were the best thing that ever happened to you.