Legs that feel heavy, stiff, or tired may be a sign of a condition affecting the blood vessels. It can also be due to overtraining, restless legs syndrome, and more.

Determining the cause of heavy, stiff, or tired legs will help a person find the proper treatment. There may also be some useful home remedies to relieve the symptoms.

Causes can vary in severity, and doctors will want to make a full diagnosis to be sure they are treating the symptoms correctly.

Read on to learn more about the possible causes of legs that feel heavy, remedies that may help, and more.

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Heavy legs can signal several conditions or disorders in the body.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen, twisted veins just under the skin. They can look more apparent and larger than surrounding veins.

As blood circulation worsens, blood starts to pool in the legs due to factors such as the effects of gravity and the veins losing their elasticity. This can cause the legs to feel heavy.

Varicose veins can appear for various reasons, including:

Varicose veins may lead to issues such as blood clots, which in turn cause swelling and pain. They may also influence skin sores, which could be difficult to heal.

If a person experiences bleeding from varicose veins, they need to seek immediate medical help. This is a medical emergency.


Overtraining can cause legs to feel heavy.

A person might feel slight tiredness in the legs for a few days after a particularly intense workout. However, when athletes regularly train to push past their limits, they risk overtraining their muscles.

Overtrained muscles do not have time to repair themselves before people use them again. The result is often sluggish, weak, or heavy muscles.

Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. They may move in a jittery or shaky movement.

Until the legs move, a person may feel a pulling sensation. For some people, this may feel like a heaviness.

Other symptoms of RLS include:

  • tingling
  • cramping
  • tension
  • discomfort
  • soreness
  • itching
  • crawling or creeping sensation

RLS typically worsens at night. The exact cause is unclear, but some research suggests it may be related to dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in muscle movement.

Chronic venous insufficiency

Heavy legs may also indicate chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

The pressure of gravity makes the heart work harder to pump blood back up to the heart from the feet and legs. The feet and legs have a series of one-way valves designed to keep blood from falling back down.

In a person with CVI, the veins and valves become weak, which can lead to symptoms such as tired legs, swelling, and spider veins.

CVI may be more common in people who stand for long periods, as standing can put tremendous strain on the veins in the lower legs and feet.

Other factors that increase the likelihood of CVI include:

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a type of cardiovascular condition that affects the veins and arteries. Symptoms start to appear when fat builds up in the walls of the arteries, which makes it difficult for blood to pass through.

PAD is common in the legs, where it can partially cut off circulation to the feet and legs. This can cause them to ache, feel heavy, or have cramps.

Risk factors for PAD include:


Lipedema refers to an irregular buildup of fat. It typically affects the legs but may also affect the arms.

Lipedema can cause the legs to feel heavy, tender, or painful. The exact cause of lipedema is unclear, but it is important to note that it is not due to overweight.


Lymphedema is a chronic condition where the buildup of lymph fluid causes swelling. It usually affects the legs and arms and can cause them to feel heavy.

Primary lymphedema develops due to mutations in the genes that play a role in the development of the lymphatic system.

Secondary lymphedema can develop due to:

  • infection
  • inflammation
  • cancer treatments
  • venous conditions, such as DVT
  • obesity
  • injury
  • immobility


Heavy legs are common during pregnancy, particularly during late pregnancy. This is usually due to edema, which is swelling due to the buildup of fluid in the body’s tissues.

Home remedies may help relieve symptoms. For the most part, these symptoms will fade after pregnancy.

People may notice other symptoms in their legs besides the heavy feeling. It is important to report these symptoms to a doctor, as they may help with diagnosis and treatment.

Other symptoms a person experiences alongside heavy legs can depend on the underlying cause. Some examples include:

  • dullness or numbness in the leg
  • throbbing pain in one or both legs
  • feeling coldness or tingling in the legs
  • difficulty walking or standing as the day goes on
  • swelling
  • discoloration in the area, such as the leg turning pale or blue

Learn about what can cause tired legs.

Depending on the underlying cause, medical treatments may be necessary. A person’s doctor can help reach an accurate diagnosis and advise on a suitable treatment plan.

Some home remedies may help manage symptoms before a treatment plan is in place.

Elevate the legs

Elevating the legs when sitting may help. When the legs are elevated, the body does not have to work as hard to pump the blood and other fluids out of the legs.

Using a reclining chair or stool to elevate the feet and legs to just above heart level may help refresh the blood in the legs and relieve some of the pressure the legs feel throughout the day.

Switch the position

Avoid sitting or standing in the same position for too long, as this could worsen symptoms. Switching positions may help promote blood circulation.

Wear compression socks

A doctor may recommend compression socks or stockings to help promote blood flow in the legs. This may be especially helpful for people who must sit or stand at work for long periods.

Reduce salt intake

Limiting salt intake may reduce the signs and discomfort caused by swelling. Checking nutrition labels and contacting a registered dietitian can help a person monitor their salt intake.

Quit smoking

Smoking can negatively affect the circulation in the body and influence symptoms like heavy legs. Reducing or stopping smoking where applicable may help reduce or prevent some symptoms.

Learn about what happens after quitting smoking.

Maintain a moderate weight

Overweight and obesity are risk factors for a number of conditions that may cause heavy legs.

Maintaining a moderate weight may help reduce the likelihood of developing these conditions and related symptoms.

Getting enough physical activity

Getting enough physical activity or regular exercise may help manage or reduce the risk of heavy legs.

Mild to moderate exercises, such as brisk walking, may help keep the blood pumping through the body and improve other risk factors, such as high blood pressure.

While exercise is great for the body and mind, too much can cause harm. To help prevent overexertion, people should take rest days and breaks from strenuous exercise as needed.

It is important to seek medical advice if a person regularly or persistently experiences a heavy feeling in the legs. They should also contact a doctor if heaviness in the legs occurs alongside other symptoms such as pain and swelling.

The doctor will ask about specific symptoms and may order tests to reach an accurate diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment plan.

Here are some common questions about having a heavy feeling in the legs.

Should I be concerned if my legs feel heavy?

There are several possible causes of a heavy feeling in the legs, and they can vary in severity. Sometimes, such as with hormonal changes during pregnancy, the heaviness may resolve on its own.

However, medical treatment is necessary for many underlying causes, so it is important to contact a doctor as early as possible if a person has concerns about heaviness in the legs.

How do I get rid of heaviness in the legs?

Aside from medical treatments to address the underlying cause, some home remedies may help manage heaviness in the legs. These can include compression, keeping the legs elevated, getting enough physical activity, maintaining a moderate weight, and avoiding staying in the same position for extended periods.

Does dehydration make your legs feel heavy?

Dehydration can cause cramping in the legs. This may make the legs feel heavy. Drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated can help prevent this.

Learn more about leg cramps.

Conditions that can cause a heavy feeling in the legs include varicose veins, restless legs syndrome, chronic venous insufficiency, peripheral arterial disease, lymphedema, and lipedema. It can also occur due to overtraining, obesity, and pregnancy.

Treatments for heavy legs can depend on the underlying cause. A doctor may also recommend home remedies, such as wearing compression stockings, keeping the legs elevated, reducing salt intake, maintaining a moderate weight, and getting enough physical activity.

If a person regularly experiences a heavy feeling in their legs, it is best to contact a doctor for advice. The doctor can help reach an accurate diagnosis and advise on suitable treatments.