Leg pain can materialize for many reasons, and it’s quite common in people of all ages, but leg pain can happen frequently to seniors. Whether your leg pain is caused by a specific problem, an injury, or overuse, there are ways you can reduce your pain and alleviate inflammation.
Having leg pain can make daily tasks difficult and exercising impossible. The fact that we use our legs daily means that having sore or aching legs can complicate life. Read on to find some of the best ways to help seniors relieve leg pain.
10 Top Ways to Help Leg Pain
It should go without saying, but many of us hate taking time off if we are active people. However, if you have muscle cramps, aches and pain, or a leg injury, one of the best things you can do for your body is getting the rest your body needs.
This means sitting down and putting your feet up (literally – elevation can reduce swelling) when you’re hurting, even if it’s just in increments.
Getting enough rest also means getting a healthy night of sleep each night. And if you need to nap during the day when you feel unwell, don’t feel guilty about that – your body is telling you it needs to recharge, and getting plenty of sleep can help your body heal muscle aches and injuries.
You could just be having a flare-up of an existing condition, such as arthritis, but no matter the reason for your leg pain, rest is always a given when you aren’t feeling your best.
2. Try medication
Reach out for over-the-counter pain medication to reduce symptoms of muscle cramping, aching, and pain. Medicines such as ibuprofen are anti-inflammatories that can help reduce inflammation and therefore, reduce and alleviate the worst of your pain.
Try Motrin, Tylenol, or other pain medications. Of course, taking medications isn’t a substitute for a larger issue, such as a torn muscle, tendonitis, a sprain, or joint disease, these medications can help make your day bearable if you’re having a lot of pain.
Make sure you contact your doctor to make sure it’s okay to take any medication alongside medicines you already take. If your pain is still bad after a few days or it worsens, give your doctor a call to make sure you aren’t suffering from something you didn’t realize could happen.
These could include a pinched nerve, sciatica, or even a break that may not seem so bad at the time – some people confuse a pulled muscle with another illness or situation, so it’s better to be on the safe side if the pain doesn’t subside.
3. Stay hydrated
Did you know that dehydration can cause muscle aches and cramps? If you’re suffering from leg pain and you’re not sure exactly what is causing it, dehydration is a common culprit.
Most of us don’t drink enough water throughout the day, even when we try. We also tend to drink more dehydrating beverages such as coffee.
Make it a habit to drink as much water as you can throughout the day, and try to substitute water for coffee if you can. It helps to have a reusable water bottle you can take with you on the go or a big bottle you can leave by your side if you’re resting. That way, you don’t have to get up frequently for refills.
You may find some relief by making sure you aren’t thirsty. It’s also a good idea to binge on fruits and vegetables and maintain a healthy diet when you are feeling pain – aches and pains can manifest due to some vitamin deficiencies.
4. Try ice and heat therapy
Heating pads are a great way to relieve muscle pain, especially if you overdid it out in the garden or engaging in another physical activity. They’re also helpful for sprains and other muscle aches and pains.
Combining heat therapy with cold therapy is a great way to reduce swelling and minimize pain. You simply use a heating pad for 20 minutes then try a cold pack for 20 minutes a few times a day.
This is also a route to try that doesn’t involve using medication if for some reason you have a health concern that doesn’t allow you to take over-the-counter pain relievers.
For lack of a proper cold pack, grab a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer!
Compression therapy is a great treatment and preventative measure for seniors who suffer from leg pain. Some active seniors use compression daily or as often as necessary to help alleviate leg and muscle pain caused by a variety of ailments.
Compression comes in a couple of forms, so choose the right one for you. Compression socks and stockings can be found in a variety of sizes and designs to fit your needs. These can be worn when you’re active or when you’re resting, and you’ll find they can be very helpful at minimizing pain.
You can also use compression to treat a pulled leg muscle in the form of medical tape or a brace around the area that’s affected, such as an ankle or knee brace.
Another perk of wearing compression socks is the fact that they can prevent bad circulation, deep vein thrombosis, and varicose veins, among other concerns for seniors who wish to remain active and healthy.
Have you tried to stay active but found yourself feeling super achy afterward? That’s likely because you didn’t stretch first. Staying active is great but when you push your body too much you could be dealing with some pain.
Before you do any type of exercise, even if it’s low-impact, commit to doing some stretches to help loosen your muscles so you don’t overdo it.
Even five minutes of light stretching can help you. If you enjoy flexibility, try doing some yoga, which not only helps when it comes to other types of activities but can help you become more flexible as well as being a great way to relax while you stay active. A lot of seniors do low-impact yoga to stay active without doing too much.
Don’t let arthritis stop you from stretching – everyone can benefit from stretching and it’s particularly helpful if you have things like sciatica as well.
There’s always a reason for a massage, but a massage can be more than a way to pamper yourself – it can help with painful, aching leg muscles.
If you’re finding you have sore muscles after exercising, a massage can be very soothing. Massages are mainly for muscles that you’re finding tight or sore, not really for injuries.
Massages are also helpful for seniors who suffer from sore legs as a result of vascular problems. Not only do massages help relieve muscle pain, but a great massage can release endorphins that can help alleviate pain. And, they just feel really good!
Though you can self-administer a massage, it’s likely a better idea to head to a professional spa or physical therapist to get one so you can really relax during the treatment as well as make sure it’s done properly so you can get the maximum benefits.
8. Switch shoes
For sore legs that are caused by walking or overuse, you may be surprised to find that your shoes play a big part in how much support you get in everyday tasks as well as exercise.
If you suffer from leg pain, nerve pain, and muscle aches or you simply feel like you need a bit more of a supportive shoe for physical activity, switch to a different shoe.
Some things to look for when you’re looking for the right shoes for seniors include looking for shoes that are the right material. It’s best to look for fabrics that breathe and shoes that are lightweight and flexible.
As far as support goes, you’ll need a shoe that offers plenty of cushioning so you’re comfortable. Shoes that are made with memory foam are a good option, for instance. A shock-absorbing sole is a must.
Choose shoes with a slip-resistant sole to ensure less risk of injury.
9. Take a bath
Sore legs mean it’s time to hop in the tub. Grab some Epsom salts and add some to warm water and have a soak. You can be generous – usually a cup or two cups is fine. There are many different types of salts, but regular unscented salts work fine.
The Epsom salts are great for helping add magnesium to your body. A loss of magnesium can contribute to leg pains, so replenishing it can help your legs feel better. Warm water will also help alleviate sore muscles.
An Epsom bath can also help relieve aches from tendonitis and pulled muscles, so whether you’re feeling sore from overuse or you actually have an injury, Epsom salts are safe and can be very beneficial.
To receive the full effects of the salts, soak for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
10. Take a walk
If you’re feeling up to it, take a walk to get your legs going. If you’re aching and sore, unless you’re in need of downtime, it can actually be helpful to get moving again.
This is mostly helpful for sufferers of chronic pain – don’t try to move too much if you’re actually injured! If you have chronic pain, you don’t have to put yourself out; a simple 20-minute walk will help a few times a week.
Before you walk, make sure and stretch for a few minutes, and do a few cooling-down stretches afterward. This will keep your muscles from tightening up and ensure you don’t feel more pain.
Walking also has other benefits; it’s a good way to get some exercise and it can help with relieving anxiety and depression.