Walking is an aerobic exercise that can help you manage your weight, tone your lower-body muscles and help promote a healthier lifestyle. As with any type of exercise, you might feel your legs ache or get tired when you go for a walk. This could be your body’s way of saying you are walking too much, or it could be a symptom of a medical condition.
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During any physical activity, you run the risk of tiring your muscles out and overexerting yourself. Although walking might not seem like a challenging activity, if you walk a long distance, wear unsupportive shoes, walk on pavement or other hard surface, or walk on a steep incline, you can wear your legs out. Dehydration, muscle strain and overuse can create aching and tiredness in your legs while you walk.
Certain medical conditions can lead to aching and tiredness in your legs while you walk as well. According to the MedlinePlus online medical encyclopedia, atherosclerosis, blood clots, arthritis, nerve damage and varicose veins affect the nerves or blood supply to your legs. If you have spinal-nerve damage or leg-nerve damage, you might feel tingling or numbness that makes your legs feel tired. Medications such as diuretics and statins can also cause leg pain.
You can manage your symptoms and help your legs at home with rest and elevation. Use pillows to prop your legs up, above the level of your heart if possible. If they are feeling tired, avoid standing or strenuous activity for the remainder of the day. Place ice on your aching leg muscles to help relieve pain immediately. If there is no redness or swelling present, take a warm bath to soothe your muscles. If your pain persists, try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Another helpful treatment at home is to use wrap an elastic bandage around your legs. The compression from the bandage will help reduce pain and improve blood flow.
If your symptoms are a result of muscular fatigue, you can try walking at a slower pace or for a shorter distance. Over time, gradually increase your walking distance instead of immediately trying to go for a long walk. If your symptoms persist or get worse, this could be a sign of a medical problem. Seek medical help if you have a fever, tingling or numbness in your legs, bruising, swelling, coldness or paleness in your legs or if you have any other symptoms that home care does not help.