From running, stretching, lifting, and walking, we put our legs through a lot of stress. After all, they’re what get us through the day. It’s no wonder that they are one of the leading areas of soreness in the body. Whether you’re experiencing cramps, sharp pains, or inflammation, here are some of the most common causes of sore legs and the best remedies to alleviate the pain.
1. Foot Pain
First, let’s start at the base of your body: your feet. If they’re not in their best shape, then the rest of your legs will follow suit. Whether it’s Achilles Tendinitis or inflammation in the balls of your feet, the causes of foot pain can spread up into your legs if they’re not addressed.
The Chinese believe that many parts of the body can be affected by the feet, so a proper reflexology foot massage can help not just the feet, but other areas where you might be feeling pain. It’s a tradition that goes back for millennia, so don’t knock it until you try it. You might soon find that other annoying symptoms such as pain in your sinuses, stomach, or even your ears are improving.
2. Lack of Stretching
Although it can be tempting to rush through an intense workout routine just to get it done, skipping that pre-exercise stretch can be costly. Your legs will not only feel sore afterwards, they’ll be prone to more severe muscle spasms.
Take that extra time to stretch before working out. You only need a few minutes. Plus, drinking extra water (more than you think you’ll need) will help to prevent cramps.
3. Poor Circulation
Muscles need oxygen to perform at optimal levels, and muscles get their oxygen through your blood. If blood supply is restricted due to poor circulation, you’re in for a bad time. A lack of blood circulation can cause serious pain all over your legs and down into your feet, making it difficult to even climb the stairs much less exercise. Poor circulation can also be a symptom of something more serious such as Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) so don’t let it go untreated.
You can buy specific blood circulation wraps designed to help blood flow in key areas, but a good, deep tissue massage can also help regulate blood circulation so that the oxygen can flow freely to your muscles.
4. Shin Splints
Shin splints are intense, localized areas of tenderness in the muscles. They usually happen after the body has been pushed through intense bursts of exercise. For example, the impact force of over-extending jogging and running sessions can overload muscles and tendons. A really bad shin splint can also cause pain in the bone itself, which is much more painful.
Without proper running or jogging shoes, shin splints are much more likely to occur. Make sure you invest in proper equipment if you’re really trying to push your body for something like a marathon. Additionally, if you have flat fleet (a low arch in your foot), you’re more likely to get shin splints. Special insoles can help with that. As with most muscle-related pains, icing up the affected area along with properly resting will drastically improve the pain.
5. Hamstring Sprain
Usually located in the rear thigh, a hamstring strain is the result of acute trauma. Like shin splints, they often happen when over-extending the body through intense running or jogging sessions. However, hamstring strains are more severe pain because the tendon or muscle itself has actually torn.
Since it’s considered more serious than a shin splint, treatment should be immediate. Self-applied care includes the PRICE principles of protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Strengthening exercises after the injury should help prevent future hamstring strains.
A key part to a holistic healthy lifestyle is knowing when to listen to your body during rigorous exercise. If you feel like you’re experiencing a lot of leg pain, try these remedies and prevention techniques so that your legs will be able to take you as far as you need to go.