One of the common complaints from many people is leg pain. This can be due to weak legs. Usually, women in the later 30s and 40s as well as elders are affected more by weak legs. However, men are not exempted. They too can suffer from weak legs. Pain in the legs many times indicates a situation that needs your attention and proper care. Life really becomes difficult when you cannot even walk a few steps to meet your day to day needs!
Causes for Weak Legs
Legs and feet carry your body weight and are essential for balancing your body while standing, walking or running! Loss of strength in your body and legs may lead to weaker legs due to which you might experience leg pain frequently. But this is not all. There are innumerable reasons that can weaken your legs.
If you find yourself unable to walk with proper balance or to stand continuously even for a few minutes, you may consider your legs to be weak. Shaking legs or pain in legs while walking or taking stairs also indicate weakness in legs! However, these situations might also occur due to some other medical conditions of your body. Check with your doctor to rule out any medical issue.
As far as weakness is concerned, some of the causes of leg weakness include the following:
- Muscle Weakness caused due to wear and tear of muscles, injury, spinal compression, etc.
- Nervous problem which leads to instability in legs
- Injury in the legs or knee
- Degeneration of bones or weak bones and associated diseases like arthritis
- Not getting enough rest (working too much)
- Side effects of certain medications
- Inactivity or too much activity
- Poor diet or malnutrition
The above mentioned factors are the major causes that lead to weak legs. In addition to these reasons, obesity is yet another cause that weakens your legs. Legs can withstand only certain amount of weight. Excessive weight damages the muscles and makes your legs weak! Weak muscles can be the result of nutritional deficiency, over-use, illness and overweight.
How to strengthen weak legs?
Strengthening weak legs involves many phases with various approaches. Focusing on nutritional requirements of your body, exercises and home remedies help transforming weak legs into stronger ones.
According to National Institute of Aging, doing simple exercises thrice a week strengthen weak legs.
Your legs don’t get weaker in a day. However, even making minor changes to strengthen legs can bring a big difference in your life.
Nutritional Requirements to Strengthen Weak Legs
Leg muscles should be strong enough to hold your body weight and to make your body stable. Muscles require all types of nutrients from carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. In addition, muscles also need fluid content to function properly. Sometimes, you may have overlooked the nutritional deficiency of few elements inside your body. Micro nutrients and minerals like magnesium are quite important for optimal functions of all the parts of your body. On a whole, a well balanced diet combined with moderate exercise or physical activity can strengthen weak legs. A simple blood test can analyze and report the deficiency of nutrients in your body.
Following is the list of nutrients that can make your weak legs stronger.
Vitamins to Strengthen Weak Legs
Also referred to as Thiamin, deficiency of Vitamin B1 may result into muscle pain, weak arms and legs, abnormal reflexes, twitching muscles of the legs, poor muscle coordination, etc. Poor diet or lack of nutritious food is a major cause of deficiency of Vitamin B1. If you experience tiredness in your legs or feel the legs drooping in absence of stability, it is a sign of B1 deficiency.
Foods rich in Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1 is found in many grains. If you don’t eat healthy carbohydrates, your body don’t get thiamine. The following foods are rich in vitamin B1:
- Brown rice
- Long grain white rice
- Organic rice
- Wheat germ
Also referred to as Cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is responsible for the production of red blood cells. It takes care of nerve impulses and DNA synthesis in the body. Lack of vitamin B12 (and iron) is often diagnosed in women and elders. When you lack vitamin B12, you may experience numbness along with frequent tingling in the legs. This is due to inadequate red blood cells in your body. Besides, it causes overall weakness in your body and results in difficulty in walking.
According to a report published by Linus Pauling Institute, the daily requirement of vitamin B12 in an adult is about 2.5mg.
The best way to get the adequate nutrients is only through diet. Unless prescribed by a physician, do not take any supplements to meet the nutritional requirements.
Foods rich in Vitamin B12
Mostly, vegetarians and vegans suffer from lack of vitamin B 12 as it is found abundantly in meat and poultry. Some of the vitamin B 12 rich foods include
- Soy foods (the best bet for vegans)
- Dairy products
Vegetarians and vegans can add fortified cereals and grains in their diet to get vitamin B 12.
Vitamin C is not only responsible for skin and hair health, but also essential for production of collagen which keeps our muscles intact. Free radicals are a major cause of aging. It is, in fact, a damaging chemical caused due to oxidation in the body. Vitamin C braces your cells in the body and prevents against damages. Lack of vitamin C is also associated with weaker body and legs because collagen is the main component of bones, muscles, skin and tendons. Lack of vitamin C equals lack of collagen in the body.
Vitamin C deficiency is also a contributing factor for pain in joints, knees and bones of your legs.
National Institute of Health Science reported that an adult needs a minimum of 75 mg of vitamin C daily.
Foods rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is abundantly found in many food sources. Some of these are as follows:
- Citrus fruits. They are the powerhouse of vitamin C. Have oranges, lemons, lime, grapes, etc. for vitamin C.
- Berries and cherries
- Bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, drumstick leaves, etc.
Vitamin C is abundantly found in natural produce. Eating fruits provide you with sufficient daily dose of vitamin C.
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. It is essential to keep the bones strong. Calcium won’t be absorbed into the body without vitamin D. Vitamin D is linked with many chronic disorders.
Exposure to sunlight enables our body to generate vitamin D from cells. Sun exposure of about 15 to 20 minutes a day is enough to generate adequate vitamin D for a day. Poor Vitamin D leads to bone disorders as calcium is not absorbed into the body. This might lead to weak legs.
Foods rich in Vitamin D
Sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D. Beyond natural sunlight, vitamin D is found in the following foods:
- Fortified milk.
It is recommended not to take vitamin D supplements. Intake of this vitamin in form of supplement may turn toxic.
Minerals to Strengthen Weak Legs
When it comes to staying healthy or eating nutritious foods, minerals are often overlooked or ignored. In fact, minerals bind the nutrients and enable a stronger support system. Following are some of the minerals that are essential to strengthen weak legs.
The need of iron can never be exaggerated! Iron deficiency is closely linked with chronic fatigue. Low level of iron makes you feel exhausted and you literally cannot walk even for a couple of minutes briskly. Iron deficiency, also called anemia, is very common in women. However, anyone can become deficient in iron if diet is not balanced with foods rich in the mineral.
Low iron levels in body affects its functions due to poor blood circulation. When there is no blood supply, the muscles become tender and nerves become weak. It affects the legs the most as legs carry your body weight. When you walk or stand you are more likely to experience pain in the knees, ankles and calf muscles. You are more likely to suffer from shaky legs and moderate to severe foot pain due to low iron levels.
Foods rich in iron
There are many foods rich in iron. The iron content is displayed through the color of the foods. Pick the one that looks darker.
- Drumstick leaves
- Dark green leafy vegetables
Vitamin C, like vitamin D, facilitates absorption of calcium in the body, keeping your bones healthy and legs stronger.
Potassium is the key nutrient that enables electrolyte balance in the body. Lack of electrolytes has been directly associated with muscle weakness in legs. Low potassium not only leads to water retention in body, but also ends up causing frequent muscle cramps, fatigue and inflammation of the feet. The National Institute of Health states that an adult needs a minimum of 4700 mg potassium daily.
Foods rich in potassium
- Potatoes with skin
- Raw tomatoes
Calcium is the powerhouse of bone health. Weaker bones obviously mean weaker legs. Managing bone density is essential to strengthen legs. Mere intake of calcium isn’t enough to manage the bone mineral density. As you grow old, bones tend to degenerate and become weak. So, along with some simple exercise to manage your bone strength, you should also aim for adequate calcium intake.
Foods rich in calcium
- Dairy foods are loaded with calcium. It is recommended to drink at least two glasses of milk every day to get adequate calcium. Those who are skeptical about drinking milk, can go for low fat options.
- Another wonder ingredient rich in calcium is sesame seeds. Top your foods generously with sesame seeds to get enough calcium from your diet.
- Leafy greens, seafood, legumes, and fruits also contain calcium.
More than 1 /4th of our body muscles are made of magnesium. Magnesium is one of the important nutrients that provide us with energy. Poor magnesium literally ends up weakening leg muscles and exhaustiveness in the whole body. Men need a minimum of 400 mg and women need around 320 mg of magnesium daily.
Foods rich in magnesium
- Dark leafy greens
- Nuts and seeds
- Oat bran (not processed oats)
- Whole grains
- Dry fruits
- Dark chocolates
Including foods from the above mentioned list in your diet helps you strengthen your weak legs.
Nutritional Supplements to Strengthen Weak Legs
When you are too weak to walk, discuss with your doctor and get some nutritional supplements. Lysine and CoQ10 are the two supplements that can help you strengthen your weak leg muscles.
Lysine is an essential amino acid required by the body to develop strong tissues, muscles, cartilages and bones. Inadequate lysine leads to fatigue, muscle weakness as well as irritability.
Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an enzyme responsible for absorption of nutrients in the body. Talk to your physician and get these supplements prescribed.
Don’t take any supplement without talking to your doctor.
Home Remedies to Strengthen Weak Legs at Home
In addition to enhancing the nutritional intake, you should also focus on home treatments to strengthen weak legs. Eating nutritious food without exercise doesn’t improve the condition of your weak legs. Poor circulation, injury, dehydration, arthritis, anemia, back pain, etc. may also lead to weak legs. Following are few easy things you can try at home to strengthen weak legs.
Massage the legs regularly
Massaging the legs, improves blood circulation. Poor blood circulation is one of the major causes of weak legs. When the blood circulation is optimal, the weaker muscles also receive the nutrients which strengthens the muscles. Besides, it reduces swelling, pain and cramps. Massage the legs daily for a few minutes. You can find a lot of improvement.
Make Herbal Oil at Home for Legs Massage
If you have pain and shaky legs, make this DIY massage oil at home and massage with this oil regularly. If you don’t want to put this much effort, you can also use coconut oil, olive oil, mustard oil or sesame oil to massage the legs.
- Sesame Oil – 2 cups
- Coconut Oil or Mustard Oil – 2 cups
- Fresh ginger – 1 inch (ginger is natural pain killer and reduces muscle twitching)
- Camphor – two teaspoons (relieves pain and inflammation)
- Fresh turmeric rhizome- 1-2 inch piece OR turmeric powder- 2 tsp
- Garlic pods – 10 to 15
- Fresh oregano leaves (it makes muscle flexible and gives you better joints)
- A few drops of essential oil (any oil- peppermint, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus etc. )
How to make it:
- Put all the ingredients (except oregano leaves and essential oil) in a pan and warm it.
- You can use a double boiler to avoid burning the oil.
- Keep the flame low.
- When you warm it, all the ingredients give a nice combined aroma.
- Once the mixture begins to boil, add oregano leaves and remove it from flame.
- Let it cool down and filter the oil after 3 to 4 hours.
- Store in a dry container and add the essential oil, blend it well.
How to massage legs:
- Wash your legs and pat it dry.
- Slightly warm the oil and apply the warm oil on the legs from knee to foot.
- Gently rub the oil and massage in circular motions. (If needed you can ask for help from your family members to massage the leg or you can also buy a massage roller)
- Massage the legs with firm strokes for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Concentrate more on calf muscles, soles and foot.
Go for a regular walk
Guess what, there is no effective and simple exercise other than walking for many health problems. Walking is a simple thing that can heal many conditions. Regular walking strengthens your legs and firms the weak muscles as well as tones them up. 30 minutes of walk for 5 times a week can reduce the weakness of your legs in a few days.
Soak your Feet in warm water
Foot soak is one of the rejuvenating therapies for tired and weak legs. Soaking the foot in the warm water relaxes your leg muscles and relieves strain, pain and sore feet. The foot is connected to all major organs of the body through tiny nerves. When you soak your feet in warm water, these nerves soothes your whole body. It also enhances proper blood circulation and reduces muscle cramps. You can add salt or essential oils in warm water for added relaxation.
Increase fluid intake
Dehydration is a major cause of muscle cramps and weak leg muscles. Keep your body hydrated to prevent weaker legs.
- Drink a lots of water at periodic intervals throughout the day
- Eat a lots of water based fruits and vegetables like water melon, cucumber, tomatoes etc.
- Limit consumption of caffeine. It leads to dehydration
Horsetail Tea to Strengthen weak legs
Horsetail is one of the highly recommended herbs for weak legs. Due to its rich silica content, horsetail enhances muscle strength, enables the muscles to contract and stay firm. It also strengthens the bone density and prevents degeneration of bones.
One or two cups of horsetail tea can be very effective in strengthening weak legs. However, don’t consume it more than 2 weeks in a go. Also, drink it no more than twice a day. If you have any chronic health condition where you regularly take any medicine, consult your physician before taking horsetail tea.
Just add around half a teaspoon of horsetail to a cup of water to make the tea.
Leg Strengthening Exercises
Weak leg muscles can be strengthened by doing exercises. Other than massaging regularly, doing the leg strengthening exercises a few minutes a day makes your legs stronger. A brief guide on simple exercises to strengthen weak legs is given below.
Exercises to Strengthen Weak Legs
Exercises are a vital part of life. Gentle and mild exercises make a big difference in staying healthy. A regular exercising regime prevents you from falling prey to diseases. Inactivity or poor physical activity leads to weak muscles and legs too. Doing some simple exercises improves strength, reduces pain and stiffness, makes the muscles stronger, and enhances your quality of life.
Precaution- When you have weak legs, don’t try strenuous workouts or exercises that can put all the pressure on your legs. For instance, squats, sit ups, etc.
Following are very simple exercises that anyone can perform daily.
Ankle Exercises to Strengthen Weak Legs
Flexible and strong ankles are essential to manage the balance and strength in the legs. Doing simple ankle stretches reduce the swelling and pain in the ankles. Ankle exercises also strengthen the lower body. There are lots of benefits of ankle exercises:
- Creates a balance and stabilizes your body
- Prevents you from losing balance in the body
- Enhances the blood circulation in the legs
How to do ankle exercises
Ankle exercises are best performed while sitting. Remember you have weak legs! Once you gain balance, you can do it while standing too.
- Sit comfortably on a chair
- Place the feet flat on the floor
- Raise the right leg 2 – 3 inches from the floor and make circle with your feet in a clock-wise direction for a minute.
- Repeat it with left leg.
- Repeat the same by doing circles in anti-clockwise direction for a minute.
- Try to raise both legs and circle the feet.
- The ankle circle exercise may take around 5 minutes. If you cannot do it continuously for one minute, do 20 to 30 circles in a shot.
After a few days, you can do it while standing. When you do it while standing, you gain more balance and stability. It is one of the best exercises for elders to strengthen their weak legs.
Tap your ankles
Tap your ankles on the floor to enable proper circulation, reduce pain and swelling in the foot.
- Sit on a chair
- Tap the ankles on the floor for a minute.
- Do it for a few minutes as long as you are comfortable.
Hip Marching to Strengthen Lower Body
Hip marching is nothing but hip flexor exercise. It is very essential to strengthen your lower body. Hip flexors are essential for elders to sustain their balance and prevent shaky legs. It also enhances walking endurance. Its benefits include the following:
- It makes the ankles, hips, spine and knees strong.
- The leg and thigh muscles are strengthened.
- You can do the hip flexors at any time, even when you watch television.
- When you maintain correct posture, this exercise also strengthens the lower back and abdominal muscles.
- Sit comfortably on a chair.
- Raise the right leg with the knees bent to the maximum height possible.
- Hold it for 10 counts and lower the leg.
- Raise the left leg and repeat the same.
- Repeat it for 2 minutes for each leg.
How to do hip marching:
After a few days of regular practice, place your hands on the thighs and resist when you lift the legs. The resistance makes your legs more stronger.
Leg Raise and Extensions for Weak Legs
When it comes to strengthening weak legs, you cannot overlook leg raises. Leg raising exercises are a part of strength training workouts. It tones all the muscles from thighs to the feet. It also focuses on abdominal muscles. The workouts provide a muscle balance; make it strong and flexible enough to create a balance.
These exercises can be performed while sitting, standing and reclining on the floor. You can choose any mode that is comfortable for you.
Sitting Leg Extensions
- Sit comfortably on a chair
- Raise one leg straight and hold it for 30 seconds.
- Repeat it with the other leg.
- Repeat the set for 4 to 5 minutes
Standing Leg Extensions
- Stand straight. If needed, get wall support to get some stability.
- Just extend one leg to 45 degrees and hold it to the maximum possible, as long as you are comfortable.
- Repeat the same with other leg.
- Extend one leg to 60 degrees and repeat the same.
- Extend the leg straight, full leg extension and hold it for a minute.
- Repeat the same with other leg.
Reclining Leg Raises
- Lie flat comfortably on a floor, with legs extended straight on the floor.
- Raise right leg slightly above the floor.
- Hold it for around 20 seconds and gradually lower it.
- Raise the left leg and repeat the set for 5 to 10 times (make sure you are comfortable)
A few tips to consider:
- Try to increase the duration gradually.
- After 2 or 3 days, you can raise the leg to 60 degrees and gradually, raise it perpendicular (90 degrees straight)
- Don’t rush, be gentle when you raise the leg.
- Massage the legs with a warm compress after doing leg raising exercises.
This is nothing but side leg raise. It tones the hip muscles and provides a strong support to the thighs and legs.
- Stand straight holding onto a chair or wall.
- Raise the right leg to the right side to the maximum height possible and hold it for 20 counts.
- Lower the leg.
- Repeat it with the left leg.
- Do it for 2 to 3 minutes
All the leg extensions and leg raising exercises also strengthen your knees and make it flexible.
Pelvic lift is not a leg exercise. However, it strengthens the spine, lower back muscles and pelvis. A strong and flexible lower back supports the legs and mobility. This simple exercise makes a good lower body workout.
How to do it:
- Lie flat, comfortably on the floor.
- Keep the knees bent and place the hands adjacent the thighs.
- Gradually lift your body (from middle body to the thighs)
- Don’t strain, just lift the body a few inches above the floor.
- Hold for 10 to 20 counts.
- Do this for 3 to 5 minutes.
Dynamics Exercises for Weak Legs
Dynamics exercises refer to a range of movements focusing on relaxing and strengthening the muscles in the body. These are light exercises and are usually performed as great warm-up workouts to perform some high intensity training. Performing these exercises are very simple and it can provide a good workout to your leg muscles.
- Walk on your heels. Raise the upper part of the feet and walk on the heels.
- Just take around 10 to 20 steps.
- Raise your heels, and walk on your toes.
It is not lunges usually performed. Lunges generally target the calf muscles and provides relief from muscle cramps.
- Stand straight.
- Move the right leg forward and left leg backward.
- Try to lower your body and bend the right leg.
- Hold for 10 counts.
- Repeat the same with left leg.
- Do a repetition of 10 sets.
Don’t strain yourself too hard.
If you are comfortable in doing standing leg extensions, do the leg swings to stimulate the leg muscles and enhance the circulation.
- Stand straight.
- Get a wall support by placing your right palm on the wall.
- Swing the right leg front and back for a few seconds. (You can enjoy the swings)
- Repeat it with other leg.
- Do it for no more than a couple of minutes.
General Tips to Strengthen Weak Legs
- Don’t sit or stand or walk or remain in a same position for too long.
- Reduce the foods rich in saturated fat and trans fat.
- Regularly massage the legs, especially after exercising.
- Reduce salt consumption to prevent swelling in the legs.
- Always keep your legs elevated to enhance circulation.
Don’t rush to see the results. However, you can find promising improvement within a few days of regular exercises combined with a healthy diet. You can actually strengthen your legs with these measures!