It’s not uncommon for the circulation in your legs to be inefficient as you get older. Unfortunately, one of the more common results of this slowed circulation is varicose veins. And, slower circulation will cause your legs to feel more tired than they should.
With varicose veins, blood tends to pool and stay stagnant in parts of your legs. Your veins lose their elasticity and tend to get knotty in places. The result is varicose veins, which are visible close to the skin.
While varicose veins aren’t generally serious, they can lead to something more serious. They’re a sign that your blood circulation can use some improvement. If you have varicose veins, you’re at an increased risk for blood clots in your legs.
If you develop a blood clot in your leg, it’ll swell near the area of the clot. You’d also likely experience a bit of pain. But, the risk is that the blood clot can break off and travel to your heart.
If you’re overweight, sit or stand too much, or don’t get enough exercise, you’re more likely to have varicose veins in your legs.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
One of the more common causes of heavy, tired legs is chronic venous insufficiency. The blood in your veins is affected by gravity, just like anything else. It’s easier for blood to flow downward than it is to go back up. When you’re younger, it can accomplish both better.
The normal process of blood flow in the legs is that the heart pumps blood to your legs to help them function. Then the blood flow returns to the heart, and the process repeats itself.
In your 20s, 30s, and 40s, your heart and circulatory systems tend to work at their optimum. As you get older, your heart isn’t as efficient as it used to be. Your veins and arteries aren’t as resilient either and become weaker.
It’s more work for the blood in your veins to flow upward as you age. So, in essence, fighting gravity becomes more strenuous for your body, and it’s harder for veins to push blood back up to the heart.
Your legs also have valves in them that are designed to keep blood from returning down into your legs. With chronic venous insufficiency, not only do your veins become weaker, but so do these valves.
The result is that blood doesn’t return to the heart like it’s supposed to. If this happens, you’re likely to have tired legs, sore feet, swelling, and a feeling of heaviness. You’ll also notice spider veins in your legs.
Risk Factors for Chronic Venous Insufficiency
- Standing for long periods of time
- Carrying around extra weight
- A sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise
- Getting older
- A poor diet
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), is another common condition experienced by older adults, smokers, and people with certain medical conditions. PAD impacts millions of Americans and affects the arteries when fat deposits build up on the artery’s walls, narrowing and hardening the blood vessels. This can stop the blood flow altogether or makes it hard for blood to pass, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the feet and legs.
PAD commonly affects the legs and can cut off circulation to both the feet and legs. This can result in a heavy, tired, and aching feeling in your legs. You can also experience cramps, especially when you walk or when you sleep at night (night cramp).
If you have PAD, your feet and legs may also feel colder. You may also notice that your legs feel weaker and might even feel numb or tingly. If you get a sore on your leg or foot, you may notice that it heals slower than normal. You might also see that your legs or feet have an unusual color to them.
Risk Factors for PAD:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Over 50
- Sedentary (inactive) lifestyle
The larger risk if you have PAD is that it could be a sign that the arteries leading to your heart and brain are also narrowed. This can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.
If you have diabetes, you’re naturally more disposed to experiencing sore feet or tired leg symptoms because you’re more at risk for developing the previous conditions.
Diabetes affects how your entire body works together. High blood glucose levels damage blood vessels. Plague builds up and narrows the arteries, slowing circulation.
This can lead to PAD and venous insufficiency, and you’re more likely to have aching in your feet. Your legs may swell more and feel tired.
Risk Factors for Diabetes
- Being overweight
- Family history of diabetes
- Being 45 years or older
- Have high blood pressure or low levels of good cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Previous history of a stroke or heart attack
If you’re experiencing tired leg muscles or sore feet, see your doctor. There are many things that can cause your symptoms. The list provided is not a comprehensive list.
If you have any of the conditions that commonly lead to your legs feeling more tired than they should, carefully follow your doctor’s advice in treating your condition. This is the best thing you can do to control your condition and treat any symptoms associated with it.
If you have new, onset soreness in your feet or tired legs, contact your doctor. He or she can evaluate your overall health and discover if there’s a medical cause for your discomfort.