Leg Weakness

Leg Weakness

My main Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are scarce, thankfully. For me, these symptoms include fatigue and lassitude, muscle weakness and occasional pain. Arm and leg weakness is something I want to focus on today, though. I feel like the weakness we feel with MS is something hard to explain and I’m interested to see how you all explain it.

Weakness and fatigue

While I do have occasional weakness in my arms, weakness in my legs occurs far more frequently. When this happens I feel like my legs are weighed down with something much like bags of sand. They are heavy and they get tired so easily! I now enjoy fitness, so this is something that can make that difficult at times. I can’t always do the full workout I’m aiming to do because my legs tire so quickly. It’s an extreme feeling of exhaustion when the weakness hits. I feel like they’re so weak they hurt. Technically fatigue and weakness have 2 different definitions; weakness being a lack of muscle or physical strength and the feeling that extra effort is needed to move and fatigue being a feeling of tiredness or exhaustion because of lack of energy or sleep, but in these cases I feel like they are one and the same. My legs are weak because I need extra effort to keep them moving, but they’re also exhausted because of lack of energy.

My legs are buzzing and burning

I notice it hits me the most when I get overheated. On hot days my legs tire rapidly, they go from 0 to 10 on the weakness scale in no time. I can be walking outside one second and the next it’s an extreme effort to keep standing because the weakness in my legs is excruciating. It’s an odd sensation, really. It’s almost like my legs are buzzing and burning because they’re trying to keep up but can’t. They’re so tired it is painful and I have to sit down for a second to alleviate the uncomfortable feeling it brings. For lack of better words, I hate it. In most of these cases I have to just rest until the feeling subsides, but sometimes even when I try to continue walking it lingers. I don’t have a lot of tips when stuff like this hits, but I wanted to share a few of the things that help me.

Rest

Like I said, this isn’t a quick fix. Sometimes resting my legs when they’re overwhelmed with weakness only helps temporarily, but when your body is communicating that it needs rest I feel it is important to listen to those cues.

Make things easier on yourself

When I’m working out and doing things to strengthen my legs, I can’t do them like everyone else. When you’re doing exercises like lunges or squats, sometimes you need extra stability so they don’t tire as quickly. I have found that holding onto something, especially when performing lunges, helps my legs stay stronger longer. Also when walking, wherever it may be, if you know your legs might get weak make sure you’re in a place where seating is nearby. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Do strength exercises

This is the one thing that is helped me the most. When I first began working out I couldn’t do a squat for the life of me. My legs were too weak for me to squat low enough for them to be effective on my own, so like my lunging tip, I had to hold onto something. If I didn’t, I would surely fall. Doing these types of exercises, however, has strengthened them immensely. I can now do squats all on my own and while they’re still harder on me, I can see how much my lower body strength has improved. Moves such as leg lifts, squats, and lunges are great exercises to strengthen your legs. I know it has drastically helped mine! Like I said earlier, if this is too hard on you to do on your own simply hold on to something when doing leg lifts or lunges and if you need to, have a chair behind you when doing squats to catch you if you fall. Believe me; it’s much nicer than hitting the floor! And, remember, to always take advantage of resting when you need it. It’s so important to do that so that your legs don’t completely give out. Find the point to where you can push yourself, but not over do it!

This is a shorter article and I wish I had a few more tips for leg weakness, but that’s all I have for right now. Since starting to work out my legs are so much stronger, but they do grow weak easily and sometimes that just can’t be avoided. That’s when I take advantage of resting and try again the next day. Here’s where I want to leave it to you guys: How would you describe how leg weakness feels for you, and what have you find that helps alleviate the feeling? Also, what are your tips to help your legs grow stronger?

As always, thanks for reading!

XOXO-Calie

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (17)
  • Nadz
    4 weeks ago

    My opinion is that as we rest in between everything we do and don’t overdo it we can continue forward. It may be with pain,stiffness, numbness etc. but we can continue forward and adapt our body to the change it is going threw. Just because our body is different it doesn’t mean we have to just give up. I still have the calf’s I’ve always had because I grew up playing basketball . I don’t play basketball now but as long as I continue movement of those muscles they will remain strong and you can also get physical therapy because you can have someone make sure you don’t overdo it.

  • flutterby
    1 month ago

    The feelings and symptoms described are very similar. As of now, I do not have a lot of feelings from my hips down, it was from my knees down. I found that using a recumbent bike helps much. You are in a stable platform and it helps with coordination and strength, especially when balance is an issue, which is always the case. I have other symptoms as well with MS.

  • Linda - loup
    1 month ago

    Thank you so much for this article. Leg weakness described perfectly. I usually say my left leg becomes like a dead weight in dragging around. Thanks for the leg strengthening exercise tips. I’ve been doing these sorts of reps and had to hold on to something To stop me falling sideways in lunges etc. I thought it was cheating and therefore the exercise not working. This was just what I needed to read

  • Dorry
    3 months ago

    Aptly described as legs in concrete. Mine feel the same. As if I am walking with lead in my legs. My legs are large and swollen. I have lymphodema and my legs are tired and weak. My legs are now collapsing on me and I have to use 2 walking canes. I will try the exercises to strengthen the legs and go from there as the doctors are pushing and want to see patients taking the challenges whether they are up to it or not.
    My legs are burning as if on fire and buzzing. All what has been said I go through also and not diagnosed yet. My symptoms are dismissed as if falling on deaf ears. I am now on pregablin and this has eased the strong nerve pain from a neuropathy which is also ignored by my doctor. The downside of pregablin is weight gain. Then I am told I need to lose weight. I am on medication for high blood pressure which causes oedema which I already have. So what is the point of it all.
    I find I have to rest in between jobs pacing myself. This does help then I get up and do some more. The nerve pain is so severe I could scream with pain. If it were not for pregablin I would have begged the doctor to amputate my legs since they are my curse of whatever disease this is and which is ignored by doctors. I understand how everyone feels. It is the pits.

  • dcerda
    4 weeks ago

    Hi Dorry, have you been checked for Polymyositis? I was diagnosed earlier this year. I don’t have the nerve pain thankfully, but when it was first activated by the flu virus last December, my legs, especially my thighs, felt like they were on fire! I was unable to walk at all in January. My legs wanted to collapse and I couldn’t get up from a seated position. I was hospitalized for three weeks while in a wheelchair. After receiving heavy doses of IV steroids to stop the damage, I endured daily physical therapy and occupational therapy until I could walk with a walker. Im still being treated with steroids and an immunosuppressant as polymyositis is an autoimmune disease. Along with exercise I graduated first to a cane and can now walk without assistance! I still have leg weakness as described in the article and do some of these exercises that are helpful. I also deal with fatigue and have to keep my stress level down so I haven’t returned to work but just take it day by day! I hope this helps and that you get your answers soon to begin the best treatment program. I pray the best for you! Debra

  • leonhillyer
    3 months ago

    My legs get very stiff and painful when over doing physical activity. And at times my legs feel like they are floating, and tingly when sitting down.

  • Lindsay
    4 months ago

    The best way I know how to describe one of the problems I have with my legs is this- it is as if I have had a giant novacaine shot in each of them. Unfortunately, the laughing gas doesn’t come with it. Before I knew better, I thought walking it out would improve it. The only thing that improved was my falling.
    Having multiple illnesses along with Multiple Sclerosis doesn’t help except in the way of leaving me confused as to what condition is doing what and when. I’m considering naming each condition I have but I don’t use the kind of language that would best fit each of them.

  • Mike H
    4 months ago

    For having identical symptoms as I can see by the replies to your post Calie, you are not alone. I’m with you all. Leg issues are the worst. BTW, I had extensive blood work done recently. Found my EBV levels were off the charts! Normal is 0-18… mine were 625!! There is a mimicry of EBV relating to MS , symptom wise. I never knew this. I’ve been reading up on this. Just makes me wonder……

  • rldoll67
    4 months ago

    Heavy legs…that is a good way to describe it though there is nothing I can really compare it to for a person who doesn’t have ms to fully understand. The hip flexor muscle that lifts your leg is one of the strongest in your body…unless you have ms. Even the drop foot would be more manageable if one could lift their leg a bit more. The physical therapy and strength exercises I’ve done do not do a good job of addressing this muscle group..in addition, when I’m active and the weather is cool, I can feel myself getting stronger and walking better after a day or two…and it leaves just as quickly when the activity stops.

  • shellbell829
    6 months ago

    I describe my legs as trying to walk through wet concrete with the concrete squeezing my legs. Then with fire ants walking up and down my arms and legs holding hot pokers. Rest is the only thing that works for me.

  • NancyO
    6 months ago

    Thank you, Calie. Your description of leg weakness and the rapidity with which it comes on is exactly right. I’ve often described it as wearing hip waders that have suddenly filled with water or sand. Nothing for it but rest. And I don’t try to walk through it. I just rest. After 15 to 30 minutes, I’m better but at 60, and 32 years into this DX, the weird sensations seem to be here to stay. So acceptance is key. But using an elliptical for strengthening is good, too.

  • melfry46
    6 months ago

    This article was very helpful in how to describe how my legs feel when weak! I’m curious, does anyone have any issues with their toes? Mine feel like they have a Charlie horse in them almost 24/7 and I makes it even harder to walk when that happens! I can’t even wear flip flops anymore or sandals that don’t have some ankle support – but even then it is hard! Any comments / thoughts would be appreciated! 🙂

  • JoyH
    6 months ago

    Loved this! Leg weakness is also one of my main symptoms. I usually describe it as my legs feel like they are made of concrete. It is so hard to describe it to people who don’t experience it. I was just diagnosed 2 years ago, so I’m still getting the hang of all of this. These tips for leg strengthening are great. I’m going to try them! Thank you!

  • whrvsc
    6 months ago

    Calie, are you using a cool vest?

  • ASAPcindy
    7 months ago

    I am doing PT right now and I just feel the therapist won’t pay attention to me when I say I can’t do this. Yesterday I told her I had been up all night and felt terribly weak, and could we reschedule. She said, just let me take your vitals. Then can we do some seated exercises. Then can you get on the bike. Too bad it’s raining we could walk. Anyway, we got my exercises done. I have spent the last twenty five years ‘powering thru’ my symptoms. What can I say? I’m getting old. But it is better to do them, and most of my life has been modifying things anyway. So I continue to live within my means.

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    Grocery carts are a blessing, even if I just running thru the store with my daughter. I always take ahold of the cart. My left leg has been weak since my big relapse 17 years ago. I did PT but not much strength has been regained. Just this year my right leg decided to get in on the fun, Walking feels like I’m walking thru quicksand or as I like to call it, my “Herman Munster” walk. Still, I do little things to help. If I’m watching TV or a long movie, I will get up during the commercial and walk around the house or just stretch. I plan on keeping on my feet for as long as I can.

  • annmaria1958
    1 year ago

    So frustrating not being able to exercise the way I did before my MS starting becoming more progressive than relapsing remitting. Now, some days it’s all I can do to just function through the day. I have found, as I’m sure many have, that I can walk better holding onto something, like a shopping carriage in the supermarket. On days that I can, I head to a supermarket and grab a carriage. I walk up and down each aisle, from one end to the other and sometimes back. The app on my phone in my pocket keeps track of how many steps. Amazing how it adds up, and there’s usually something I need to get while I’m there…Not overdoing is important, but building whatever muscle tone we can is just as important…

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