Why Do My Legs Feel So Heavy When I Walk?

Why Do My Legs Feel So Heavy When I Walk?

Walking isn’t just exercise; it’s your primary method for getting from Point A to Point B. So when your legs feel heavy or you’re experiencing leg pain, it can be disconcerting. Before you can remedy the situation, you have to know why your legs don’t feel right.

There isn’t just one answer to this question, though. Here, our team of vascular surgeons at Vascular Specialists highlights the potential reasons your legs feel heavy and how the Vein Care Institute can help.

6 reasons why your legs feel heavy when you walk

Here are six common culprits behind your legs feeling achy and heavy when you’re walking: 

1. Muscle fatigue

An intense leg day at the gym could be to blame for occasional leg heaviness. Your muscles may be fatigued and overworked, which leads to that unwelcome heaviness. This is especially common if you've engaged in intense physical activity recently.

2.  Poor blood circulation

When your blood circulation is compromised, oxygen and nutrients struggle to reach your muscles efficiently. This can lead to a sensation of heaviness. 

Tip: Consider your sitting habits and how often you move around during the day. If you sit at a desk for work, set a reminder on your phone to get up at least once an hour to stretch your muscles and move around.

3. Dehydration 

Believe it or not, insufficient water intake can contribute to heavy legs. Dehydration affects blood volume, which makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood to your muscles.

4. Failing to warm up when exercising 

Skipping a proper warm-up before physical activity can leave your leg muscles unprepared for the demands of your workout. Cold, stiff muscles are more prone to fatigue — and that burdensome feeling as you walk.

Never skip a warm-up. Not only does warming up before a workout help keep your legs feeling more nimble, but it also helps reduce your risk of sports injuries.

5. Poor shoe choice

Your choice of footwear matters more than you might think. Ill-fitting shoes or those lacking proper support can strain your leg muscles and lead to discomfort and heaviness during movement.

6. Varicose veins

While varicose veins are often perceived as a cosmetic issue that causes discolored, bumpy veins, the reality is that they can also cause physical symptoms. Varicose veins can contribute to:

You might suspect this is what’s causing your legs to feel heavy if you spot the tell-tale signs of varicose veins on your skin. 

What to do about heavy legs?

The first step is to pinpoint what’s behind the heaviness. Sometimes, it’s easy to know — for example, your legs may feel sore and heavy after an intense workout, and then the heaviness eases up. 

In other cases, though, you might not realize what’s causing your symptoms. That’s where we come into the picture. Our team diagnoses and treats a variety of venous conditions, including varicose veins. 

If varicose veins are the source of your leg heaviness (confirmed by ultrasound and a physical exam), we can recommend the right type of treatment for you. Whether you need sclerotherapy or ablation, we’ve got what you need under one roof.


To schedule an appointment at our Vein Care Institute, call us at 815-824-4406. You can also book your varicose vein appointment at either office — in Munster, Indiana, or Tinley Park, Illinois — by clicking here.

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