Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do my legs feel heavy?"
Over the past few weeks, when I'm walking around for a little bit, my legs feel very heavy, like my feet are stuck to the ground or something. It happens when I'm walking to work, which is a half hour walk usually. What is this?
First of all, congratulation on walking a half hour to work each day! Decisions like this are great for your health! The most common reason for a heavy sensation in the legs while walking for longer periods of time is simply fatigue. If you have been exercising more than usual recently (running, lifting weights, etc) then this is probably all that is going on. You may want to try resting for a day or two to see if the symptoms get better. If they do, then you probably do not need to worry about this and get keep on with your exercise. In people who have varicose veins or other problems with venous insufficiency in the legs (usually middle aged women who have had several children) prolonged standing or walking can cause some leg swelling, which leads to a sensation of heaviness. If you fall into this category, then you can relieve the symptoms by elevating your legs in the evening, avoid standing all day, and perhaps wearing compression hose. Finally, in people risk factors like diabetes and heart disease, sometimes there can be limited flow of blood to the legs with exercise. This is called claudication (pain or other sensations in the legs with walking) and is a serious symptom of peripheral vascular disease. Talk to your primary care doctor to help you figure out what might be going on.
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