Weakness in the legs
Did you know that our muscle mass peaks between 20-30 year old? 1 In fact, studies show that adults 50 years and older lose their muscle strength each decade. 2
Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is a natural part of getting older. A big factor causing muscle loss is today's sedentary lifestyle. The average adult simply does not get enough exercise while consuming the same diet as when they were in their twenties.
When we use our legs less, our leg muscles atrophy or shrink, making the weakness worse in the long run. When this happens, we may notice a reduction in our leg strength on a daily or chronic basis.
Let's look at a few common symptoms of weakness in the legs.
Common causes of Leg Weakness
Here are three common health conditions that contribute to the process of muscle loss:
People often think osteoarthritis only affects the older people, but young people have this condition as well. Knee injuries caused by repetitive use for example repeated squatting or kneeling as part of your job or sustaining a knee injury from sports, being overweight or simply the years of wear and tear of our knees can cause knee osteoarthritis.
If you have osteoarthritic knees, your knees will feel painful, swollen and stiff. You don’t feel like moving much because of the knee pain. You reduce your walking exercise and eventually your muscles, especially your leg muscles, start to shrink. As a result, many people with knee osteoarthritis experience weakness in their legs as well.
The National Joint Registry reported approximately 90,842 knee or partial knee replacement procedures performed in England and Wales since April 2003 3. It may take a while before a person can resume normal activity. After a knee operation or surgery to your lower leg, it can take up to 6 weeks to get back to normal leisure activity.
You may experience a lot of pain and discomfort in your legs and you may not feel like moving around much. However, the contrary is important – getting up and walking is needed to prevent muscle atrophy and weakness in your legs. If you don’t start including movement into your recovery, you’ll soon find your legs muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be.
It is important to talk to your doctor and work with a physiotherapist on a treatment plan to safely strengthen your leg muscles after a knee or lower leg operation.
We’ve all heard it before – aim for 10,000 steps a day! It sounds simple yet most of us struggle even with achieving 30 minutes of exercise a day. Unfortunately, sitting takes up most of our day especially if we work in an office.
Add on the fact that we eat at least the same amount of calories and have meals that are imbalanced filled with more fat and sugar than protein and nutrient-dense carbohydrates. It’s no wonder that many working and retired adults find themselves putting on weight more easily than when they were growing teenagers.
The lack of activity and unhealthy eating will cause weight gain which puts more stress on our knees. In time, your muscles will also atrophy or shrink due to the sedentary life, leading to a feeling of less strength in the legs or leg weakness as you age.
Preventing muscle loss and strengthening your legs
Can we slow down muscle loss and even rebuild muscle mass in our 40's and 50's and older? The answer is yes.
First of all, if you have an existing medical condition, seek your doctor's advice in treating your health condition. Then ask them about their recommendations to help you stay as active as possible. If your doctor gives you the green light to take physical activities to prevent further muscle loss and improve your leg weakness, consider the following:
Though a health setback might limit your mobility, simply walking more around the house, or moving your legs while at your office desk can help improve the circulation in them. If you are experiencing muscle weakness post knee surgery or due to knee osteoarthritis, the use of Revitive Circulation Booster can help stimulate the muscles in your quadricep muscles and calves to increase blood flow to your legs and feet, and strengthen your muscles which may help with your mobility.
Regular strength training can help you retain and gain muscle. Meet with a physical trainer to learn the right resistance exercises that can help build muscle. Regular swimming or even just walking in a pool can provide resistance to help you build your muscles.
Many people think that they should eat less, especially less proteins and carbohydrate, when they become adults because they have stopped their teenage growth spurts. On the contrary, a diet with a good intake of protein and nutrient-dense carbs is very important in rebuilding and retaining muscle mass. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about a suitable meal plan which helps to maximise the appropriate nutrients for your age and for retaining your muscles.
Disclaimer: This content is not intended as medical advice. We believe in helping people to make informed decisions about their health. We hope to empower you to ask your physician the right questions so you can both agree on a treatment plan that’s right for you.
- Knee replacements (njrcentre.org.uk)
- Knee replacement - NHS - Recovery - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
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