Why are my legs so sore?!?
June 7, 2014 2:08 AM   Subscribe

Dear Metafilter, I am a fit, active lady and my legs feel weak, crampy, and I want to go for a run tomorrow morning but I have a feeling it will not end well. What the fuck is going on with me?

I know that you're not my doctor, and I will try to see one early next week, but anyway:

-A little over a week ago, I noticed that my legs were feeling unusually fatigued. I work in a restaurant and I'm on my feet a lot, and I run, and I've been working a lot and I'm generally feeling a little burned out. But, that's the norm and I mostly feel fine. Until now!My diet is good, maybe a little too much protein and not enough fruits and veggies. I eat neither dairy nor gluten. I get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. I almost never remember to take my multivitamin, though.

I first noticed that I was feeling weak and tired in my legs during the final weekend of a show that I was performing in. The usual spring in my step was just not there. I wanted to sit down. I took a break from running, I ate some bananas, and I hoped it would get better.

It has not gotten better. I'm sitting on the couch, I can feel my leg muscles spasming, and I really don't want to get up but I'm going to have to. I went for a run yesterday, and I crapped out after two miles. Two miles is nothing for me, and I've never stopped a run for jelly legs before. I feel a general soreness, fatigue, and weakness concentrated in my hamstrings and outer hips, extending up into my glutes. Spasms. Tightness. Ugh!

My legs often feel kind of creepy crawling, MUST MOVE! feeling, and I'm pretty sure I have restless leg syndrome.

I called my dad and he thought it was allergies. I'm not sure. I don't otherwise feel crappy. I just want to exercise, and WebMD is freaking me out.
posted by ablazingsaddle to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
And to add: I'm not a serious runner, just a frequent fast jogger. I doubt I've been "overtraining"
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:22 AM on June 7, 2014

Are you able to take baths? Soaking with Epsom salts significantly helped my last round of inexplicable leg soreness.

A situation not improving for a week is a good reason to go see a doctor, though. It could be a lot of things, most of them less dire than what you'll find on WebMD.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:25 AM on June 7, 2014

Are you taking any medications regularly? Statin drugs (like Lipitor, Pravachol, and Zocor) are well-known to cause muscle problems in some people. See here, for example. If you're not taking statins, check out the side-effects of any other drugs you might be taking.
posted by alex1965 at 3:48 AM on June 7, 2014

Dehydration, maybe? Or lack of calcium. Drink more water and take a calcium supplement.
posted by mareli at 3:49 AM on June 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Restaurant work is very hard on your legs. You're not just on your feet, you're pivoting, turning your body at awkward angles and carrying loads while doing so. If you're doing full shifts on a hard floor, running several miles a day and dancing, too, then perhaps curtailing some activity for a while might be a good idea. If you are not wearing sensible shoes with good support and cushioned soles when you're working, you should start. I worked in service for over twenty years and I still deal with the weird ways I messed up my muscles doing so, and the impractical shoes I insisted on wearing did not help at all. You sound really driven and it's totally okay to take it easy for a while and give your legs a bit of a rest. Also, yes, stay well hydrated and make sure you're getting enough calcium.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 3:59 AM on June 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

I work in a restaurant, too. Magnesium is what fixed this for me. Take it every night at bedtime, because it can have laxative effects and you don't want that to hit while you're at work. Personally, I take twice the recommended dose every night, but YMMV.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:16 AM on June 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had cramping calves and was told my potassium was low. It was surprising what it took to get my intake up to the daily recommended, given my diet (could be described a lot like yours) I ate a lot of baked potatoes, avacado and apricots along with bananas and added orange juice. Until things regulated themselves the cramps would come back if I slacked off.
posted by platypus of the universe at 5:19 AM on June 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm going with dehydration being at least a part of it, and the restaurant work being another part of it. My father and I are both to prone to massive cramping in our calf muscles and general sore leggedness when we haven't had enough to drink.
posted by zizzle at 6:54 AM on June 7, 2014

Is it near your period or the time of month you ovulate? Cramps in the upper part of my legs often end up being tied to my uterus cramping.
posted by MsMolly at 7:16 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Eat foods with magnesium in them and drink mineral water every day.
posted by myselfasme at 7:46 AM on June 7, 2014

Upper leg weakness/achiness/cramping can be a symptom of uterine fibroids, apparently. I don't really understand how though tbh. Do your legs feel physically heavier than usual? Not like there is actually more flesh there but like it feels as though you've got invisible weights attached to them?
posted by elizardbits at 9:20 AM on June 7, 2014

The big four minerals you need to stave off dehydration are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. You might need calcium + vitamin D (to help absorb the calcium) supplements given your diet.

You might also want to buy new shoes.

The antagonist muscles to your glutes, etc are your quadriceps. The supporting muscles are your core abdominal.

When you are walking or standing, is your weight too far back on your heels? You're a runner, do you strike heel? When standing, try putting your weight more forwards to your toes. When running, try to strike mid-foot. This should shift more weight up front to quads and calves.

Also when you are standing and walking, engage your core muscles. Do core abdominal exercises. This will also help take load of those muscles.

Epsom salt baths, heat pads, etc are also good ideas. But if rest and rehydration don't help and the problem gets worse, see a doctor.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:50 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try Magnesium tablets, just before bed it can cause red flushes to the face and has a laxative effect as others have mentioned.

Also I'd recommend support socks when you are working and cushioned shoes. Any restaurant work is hard on your feet and legs, add to that the strain of running and you are expecting them to do a lot so spoil them. When you get home from work sit down for a while with your feet elevated.

IANAD but you may just be entering the wonderful world of getting older where our bodies don't quiet do things as easily as they used to do.
posted by wwax at 9:51 AM on June 7, 2014

I am a serious runner.

Two words that will change your life: compression socks. Wear them under your pants at work and/or at night while you sleep. CEP is a fantastic brand that a lot of runners use, but I've found that even just wearing a pair from the drugstore at work is just as effective.

FWIW, I'm a thirty something trendyish lady. No one has to know what's on your legs under your fancy work pants or designer jeans. If my legs ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, and compression has changed my life.
posted by floweredfish at 10:11 AM on June 7, 2014

For the symptoms if not the cause: a massage.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:25 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, and calcium for me. None of the other medical problems sound likely. Why did this happen so suddenly, though? Weird.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:21 AM on June 7, 2014

mr. needled swears by SaltStick capsules, which contain a mix of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. He sweats a lot and drinks a lot of water when he's active, and gets horrible leg cramps if he forgets to take SaltStick capsules. He says drinking electrolyte water instead of plain water is also helpful - he usually gets a couple of bottles from Trader Joe's.
posted by needled at 11:30 AM on June 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yup, I'd also guess electrolytes. I really like Electromix packets. They're made by the same people that make EmergenC and I get mine at Whole Foods or Amazon. The packets can be tucked into a purse or pocket easily. I add them to a large glass of water and I can feel the effect in minutes.
posted by quince at 11:41 AM on June 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

If that fails then try having some salt (not a ton just heavily salt some food you eat).
posted by meepmeow at 12:14 PM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sometimes your body has been suffering quietly and then there's a straw that breaks the camel's calf muscle.

Good advice above + massage if you can afford it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:19 PM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

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