By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Heavy, aching, tired legs are a common complaint, particularly in people who are on their feet for most of the day. Whether your job involves a lot of standing or walking, or you are busy at home with looking after children, painful legs can make it difficult to get through the day.
A number of things can cause your legs to ache; these are the most common:
This is a common problem that causes pain and tenderness in the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues. Tenderness in the muscles and tendons which are painful to touch are known as ‘trigger points’. Pain may be chronic or intermittent and to qualify for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia it must have been present for at least three months.
Fibromyalgia affects between 3 and 10% of the world’s population, both men and women. However, women are more commonly affected as fibromyalgia often begins during the peri-menopausal years. Fibromyalgia is also often associated with chronic fatigue, depression and disturbed sleep.
Cramps in the legs or feet can occur during activity, or during rest, such as while you’re asleep. Insufficient magnesium is the most common cause of muscle cramps and taking a magnesium supplement relieves them well in most cases. Cramps may also occur due to dehydration or insufficient sodium, particularly if you do a lot of sweating in a hot climate.
If your body retains a lot of fluid, it can accumulate in your legs and feet, particularly by the end of the day if you’ve been on your feet. Reducing the amount of sugar, dairy products and gluten in your diet can help to significantly reduce fluid retention. Improving the strength of your capillaries helps to improve circulation and reduces fluid accumulation in your legs.
Occasionally, tired, aching or swollen legs can be caused by a more serious health condition, such as a blood clot, stress fracture, tendon or ligament problem, kidney or liver condition. Therefore please see your doctor to rule out one of these.