HEAVY LEGS: WHAT TO DO?

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Many women suffer from venous insufficiency which manifests itself through heaviness in the legs, feelings of tiredness or varicose veins. How can you prevent the appearance of these nuisances and reduce the feeling of heavy legs? Read our fitness and health tips to find out.

 

In your legs, venous return is critical. This works using a system of valves, which open under the pressure of the blood in the veins, and automatically close to present any back-flow. This enables the blood to flow up to the heart, particularly as a result of the contraction of the calf muscles and pressure on the soles of the feet.

 

When this system is weakened or when living a sedentary lifestyle, the venous return is diminished. Usually the symptoms appear gradually, particularly during hot or tiring days. The poor circulation of the blood triggers feelings of heaviness in the legs, building up to venous insufficiency.

 

In other words, walking and physical exercise are essential to proper venous return!

 

Do sports to combat heavy legs

If you suffer from heavy legs, there's nothing better than physical activity to improve your circulation. All intensive sports that work out your heart and lungs, are helpful.Our advice: Give priority to endurance sports such as cycling (exercise bike, cross trainer), yoga, swimming, and floor gymnastic exercises where you raise your legs, to encourage venous return. At the same time, avoid impact sports (stamping, jumping and sudden jolts), such as jogging, tennis, volleyball, basketball, Zumba® and any type of squats, lunges, etc.

 

Which exercises encourage good venous return?

To help you relieve the feeling of heavy legs, Olivier, our Domyos coach, recommends the following 2 fitness routines that you can practise at the gym or at home, 2 or 3 times a week.

 

At the gym: cross trainer routine

  • Warm up for 5 minutes at a comfortable pace

  • Workout: pedal for 10 minutes forwards then pedal backwards for 10 minutes.

  • Focus on endurance! Train for a minimum of 20 to 40 minutes, at a moderate pace.

 

At home: muscle reinforcement exercises

Here are four exercises to do on your back that will help you not feel heaviness in your legs, and which will work out your abs and thighs at the same time.

 

Exercise 1: toe stands

  • Targeted muscles: primarily the calves.

 

  • Performing the exercise: Stand with your legs hip width apart and raise your body to stand on your toes while maintaining your balance. Return to your starting position. Look at a point in the distance. To make the exercise more challenging, increase the speed of your reps; keep your heels from touching the ground between reps.

 

  • Breathing: exhale as you raise up on your toes.

 

  • Safety tips: Contract your abdominals and buttocks; relax your upper body.

 

  • Reps: 1 x 10 to 6 x 10 repetitions, with a maximum of 15 seconds of recovery between each set.

 

Exercise 2: leg lifts

  • Performing the exercise: lay on your back, legs extended and perpendicular to the ground. Arms down by the sides. Contract your abs then slowly lower your legs as far as you can without touching the ground in a controlled movement. Return to your starting position, then repeat the movement.

 

  • Breathing: breathe in by the nose when your legs are perpendicular to the ground. Breathe through the mouth as you lower your legs to the floor.

 

  • Safety tips: do not rock your lower back during the exercise; keep your back flat on the ground.

 

  • Reps: 1 x 10 to 6 x 10 repetitions, with a maximum of 15 seconds of recovery between each set.

 

Exercise 3: paddle boating

  • Targeted muscles: Abdominals

 

  • Performing the exercise: laying flat on your back, place your arms alongside your body. Lift your legs and fold them so as to create a right angle. Start to pedal gently, making circular movements (like on a bicycle).

 

  • Breathing: breathe normally and continuously throughout the exercise.

 

  • Safety tips: never lift your lower back off the ground during the exercise. Remember to contract your abs.

 

  • Reps: 1 x 10 to 6 x 10 repetitions, with a maximum of 15 seconds of recovery between each set.

 

Exercise 4: parallel leg scissors

  • Targeted muscles: abdominals

 

  • Performing the exercise: laying flat on your back, place your arms alongside your body. Lift your right leg several centimetres off the ground (at a 45° angle for example) while keeping your left leg extended in its starting position; lift the left leg to a 45° angle while lowering your right leg and returning it to its starting position (a scissor-like movement). Repeat.

 

  • Breathing: breathe normally and continuously throughout the exercise.

 

  • Safety tips: never lift your lower back off the ground during the exercise. Keep your legs extended.

 

  • Reps: 1 x 10 to 4 x 10 depending on the amplitude and the speed; allow yourself a maximum of 15 seconds of recovery time between each set.

 

Exercise #5: leg scissors

  • Targeted muscles: inner thighs

 

  • Performing the exercise: laying flat on your back, place your arms alongside your body. Lift both legs to 45°, feet together. Spread your legs apart, then bring them back to the starting position. Start the movement again.

 

  • Breathing: breathe normally and continuously throughout the exercise.

 

  • Safety tips: never lift your lower back off the ground during the exercise. Keep your legs extended.

 

  • Reps: 1 x 10 to 6 x 10 repetitions, with a maximum of 15 seconds of recovery between each set.

 

Additional tips: don't forget to stretch the muscles of the lower limbs, front and back, (quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, calves). These are important in aiding venous return. Finish your fitness routine with something cold, such as a gel or foot bath in cold water, to soothe the feeling of heavy legs. 

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