How to Deal With Heavy Legs When Running
Heaviness in the legs is a problem for most runners at some point or another, regardless of your level of fitness or training. This can leave you feeling slow, sluggish, and fatigued during your run, preventing you from getting the best out of your workout and resulting in soreness afterwards.
But why do you get heavy legs when you are running, and how can you prevent it from happening? Here we will look at causes of and remedies for leg fatigue while running, to help you optimize your training, and run and rest without discomfort.
Why do your legs feel weak when running?
Weakness or heaviness in the legs can occur at any stage during your run, and can be frustrating when it prevents you from performing as well as you’d like. This weakness can be caused by a number of different factors, such as:
- Your Form: Your form (i.e. your posture and stride) is critically important for running effectively and comfortably, and poor form can be a significant contributor to heavy legs.
- Your Shoes: Wearing improper shoes when running can also negatively affect your form, and footwear that is unsupportive or ill-fitting could be the cause of your heavy legs.
- Your Pre and Post-Workout Routine: Failing to adequately warm up your muscles before a run, or stretch them afterwards, can impair both performance and recovery, which can lead to heaviness and soreness.
- Your Diet: Heavy legs when running may be caused by your muscles not getting the fuel they need to function efficiently, possibly as a result of not eating enough before your workout.
- Your Blood Circulation: Poor circulation can also cause heavy legs, as this can limit the amount of oxygen your muscles receive during exercise.
What is Heavy Leg Syndrome?
Heavy Leg Syndrome is a common condition, causing a general feeling of heaviness in the legs. It is usually temporary, but some people may experience Heavy Leg Syndrome recurrently, and may require medical attention.
This condition can affect anyone, whether they are regular runners or not, and is often caused by poor blood circulation in the legs, which limits the amount of oxygen delivered to the muscles.
A lack of blood flow to the legs can be caused by standing or sitting in one position for long periods of time, or by low levels of physical activity.
You are more likely to develop Heavy Leg Syndrome if you are overweight or pregnant, as carrying extra weight on your body can disrupt the blood flow in your legs.
If you think you are suffering from Heavy Leg Syndrome, you can ease the symptoms by stimulating and encouraging circulation in your legs.
If your job requires you to sit or stand for long periods of time, taking a short walking break once an hour can help to increase blood flow, as can massaging your legs.
How can you prevent leg fatigue while running?
If your legs often feel weak when running, there are steps you can take to prevent your legs from getting heavy during your workout.
1. Schedule Rest Days
Heavy legs while running are often simply a result of overtraining. It is vital that you give your body enough time to rest and repair between workouts, as this is key for making improvements to your performance.
The amount of rest your body requires will depend on your age and fitness level, so listen to your body and make sure to schedule enough rest days into your training plan.
Dehydration and electrolyte depletion are both common causes of heavy legs when running.
Therefore, ensuring that you drink plenty of water and drinks containing electrolytes can be highly effective in combating leg weakness.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
Giving your body the fuel it requires to work out effectively is key for preventing heavy legs while running, as low blood sugar, as well as certain mineral deficiencies, can contribute to leg fatigue.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets all of the energy and nutrients it requires, so you can get the best results from your training sessions.
4. Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Whether you are a beginner or long time runner, it is important to take things slowly when working to improve your speed, strength, or stamina.
Pushing yourself too hard to achieve fitness goals can cause your overworked legs to tire quickly during training, harming your performance and preventing you from improving.
How can you fix heavy legs?
Prevention is the best way to deal with heavy legs, but even runners who are careful about preventing leg fatigue are still likely to experience it now and again. If your legs feel heavy and weak during your run, you can try the following methods:
- Take a Break: If your legs begin to feel heavy during a run, stop and take a break. Try altering your stride (but not your speed) to alleviate leg heaviness whilst running. It is important to make sure that you are allowing your body adequate time to rest and repair between training sessions, so make sure to schedule regular rest days into your training plan.
- Stretch After Working Out: Stretching after your run can help to improve the flexibility and range of mobility of your muscles. This can make them more supple and less prone to fatigue.
- Ice and Elevation: If your legs become weak or heavy during your run, elevating your legs against a wall or applying an ice pack to the area can help to reduce inflammation and aid recovery. This can be done both directly after your workout and on rest days for maximum benefits, and can help to quickly get you back in shape for training.
Having heavy legs when running can harm your running performance and hinder improvement, which can be discouraging for both beginners and experienced runners alike.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce your likelihood of leg fatigue, and to help your body recover from weakness brought about by overtraining.
When your running legs feel like lead, the most important thing to do is listen to your body and rest it when you need to. Taking care not to push yourself too hard will help to boost your performance during your training sessions, and will help to prevent your legs from tiring so quickly.
Making sure to stretch after training, wearing shoes that fit well and support your legs and feet, and drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your run can also help to combat heavy legs when you run.
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Who am I ?
I'm Sam Rondot, the person behind the blog Running Addicted. I'm a French entrepreneur and I'm passionated about running. I started running since 12 years old and have covered 16 marathons (at the point of writing).I enjoy running and the exhausted feeling I have after a long run. I always follow one rule: I try to do my best and run until I can’t. This makes me feel that I can do anything. I know you have that feeling, too. Running has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I have ever imagined.Learn more
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