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Weakness in Your Legs -- What
Does It Mean?
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Last updated April 27, 2017, originally published November 5, 2014

By  Joseph Strongoli, Contributing Columnist

Brain Conditions That Affect Your Legs

Your brain cannot move around, acquire food, water, shelter
or defend itself without its body, or more specifically, its

But muscles are merely a tool, inanimate and inert by
themselves; they need their master to manipulate them. It’s a
symbiotic relation of dependence of sorts, and if either end of
the apparatus is not functioning properly, then neither will
their relationship be productive.

There are conditions that affect the brain in such a way that
muscle function is also impaired, and while these conditions
technically belong in the above category, they will get their
own category here because they affect the brain, the master
control center of every system in the body.

Furthermore, for some of these conditions, such as
depression, chronic anxiety, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,
the link between them and muscle weakness isn’t directly
observable, but the rates of coincidence are high enough to
conclude that there is a connection.

Anxiety can lead to fatigue in general and weakness in the
legs due to overstimulation of the body’s adrenaline system.

Depression is generally accompanied by feelings of general
malaise, apathy, and mental and physical fatigue that can lead
to weakness of the leg muscles.

Chronic pain can result in a draining of energy levels, both
mental and physical, as, like anxiety, pain incites a
chemical/hormone response that can lead to fatigue. Sleep
disorders can lead to increased mental and physical fatigue,
as the body is robbed of its restorative and repair cycles.

Substances that affect Muscle Function

A number of medicines, drugs, and other substances can
cause adverse side-effects or allergic reactions that impair
muscle function. These include antibiotics, such as penicillin,
anti-inflammatory pain-killers, such as diclofenac, and statins,
used for cholesterol control. Other medicines include
chemotherapy treatments, heart medicines, such as
amiodarone, and HIV medications. Ask your doctor if you are
prescribed any of these drugs and think they may be causing
the weakness in your legs.

Studies also indicate that prolonged overuse of alcohol,
cigarette smoke, and cocaine can cause marked wasting and
weakness of the muscles, through different mechanisms.

Atrophy/Aging of Your Legs

Loss of muscle mass and loss of muscle power, called
"sarcopenia" and "dynapenia" respectively, typically occur
with the onset of old age.

Fitness, recovery, stamina, and endurance all peak in our 20s
and 30s, and begin to decline as we age.

Another cause for weakness is de-conditioning, or atrophying
of the muscles, due to an inactive or sedentary lifestyle.

Lack of fitness is one of the most common causes of
weakness in the muscles. If your muscles remain inactive, the
your body ceases giving them resources of protein, and
muscle fibers wither. The body then stores fat where the
muscle fibers have receded, leaving muscles with less ability
to contract with much power. Lack of fitness becomes more
pronounced and pervasive with old age.

Remedies That Fight Leg Weakness

As we’ve seen, weakness in your legs, and in your muscles in
general may be the result of diverse causes. Many of these
may be under your control/ability to improve; based on what
your condition might be, there is hope for restoring strength
to your legs.

Weakness of the legs is only rarely the consequence of a
serious medical condition, but if you believe your condition to
be serious, do not hesitate to seek prompt medical attention.  
Also, ask your doctor if you believe that your leg weakness is
the product of a prescription drug.  

There are many ways to improve leg strength, but a varied
and holistic approach, one that encompasses and
incorporates treatments across the different systems of the
body, fosters synergistic harmony in the body and is the most

Diet, Supplements, Natural Interventions

Muscles require many nutrients, such as proteins, amino
acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in order to
function at optimal levels. A well-balanced diet can go a long
way in improving your muscle function, but if you are
deficient in some of the following vitamins and minerals, your
muscles will suffer: Vitamin D, B-Vitamins (B1 and B12),
Potassium, Magnesium,

You can find these vitamins and minerals in abundance in
foods, but supplements in the form of pills or powder are
also a good way to make sure you are getting enough. Here
are some other natural substances that have been
demonstrated to enhance muscle function:

Coenzyme Q10, a strong antioxidant, plays a central role in
cellular energy production. Studies indicate that CoQ10
deficiency can lead to the development of some kinds of
muscular dystrophies (Folkers 1995; Siciliano 2001; Tedeschi

Resveratrol- a compound found in red wine, increases muscle
integrity (Hori 2011)

Creatine: a naturally occurring amino-acid-like compound
that provides energy for muscle cells, and can improve
strength, endurance, and muscle recovery (Pearlman 2006;
Radley 2007; Tarnopolsky 2011)

Omega -3 Fatty Acids: Essential component of cellular
membranes; promote larger muscle cells and more efficient
muscle repair (Fiaccavento 2010)

Taurine: An organic compound essential for cellular growth
and function (Miyazaki 2013)

Vitamin D and Calcium: Essential for bone growth and
function (Beytía 2012)

Glutamine: An amino acid that protects against oxidative
stress and is associated with the inhibition of protein
degradation (Mok 2008)

L-Carnitine: An amino acid important for fat metabolism; also
restores muscle cell membrane fluidity (Le Borgne 2012)

Melatonin: A hormone that acts as a powerful antioxidant
that protects cells from free radicals (Hibaoui 2011)

Green Tea: Green tea contains phytochemicals that reduce
muscle deterioration, improve muscle force and resistance to

In several studies, including a 2011 study conducted joitnly
by the University of Geneva and the University of Bonn (Dr.
Dorchies), scoentists confirmed that the green tea extract,
epigallocatechin-3-gallate ("ECGC") slowed the deterioration
of muscle in mice which had muscular dystrophy.

A couple of words of caution about these studies. First, they
were mouse studies not human studies. Second, in the
studies, the green tea extract was injected under the skin,
not drunk in a tea cup.  Still, it is plausible to expect that
drinking green tea certainly cannot harm muscle strength and
may, if you drink enough, marginally help to slow any
deterioration you are experiencing.

Vitamin E, Selenium, and N-acetylcysteine: Antioxidants that
protect against cell damage and increase muscle force
(Gamstorp 1986) (Malik 2012; Whitehead 2008)

Regular Exercise, Active Life

Be active. A sedentary lifestyle leads to poor circulation,
vascular health, brain, lung, and kidney function, and
atrophies the muscles, melting them into fat. Therefore, the
muscles are adversely affected by couch-riding, both directly
and indirectly.

Exercise regularly, along the four axes of exercise: strength,
balance, flexibility, and endurance. Seek out physical therapy
professionals who can customize an exercise regimen that
works for you. The surest way to maintain muscle health is to
use them!

Prescription Treatments

If you feel like your leg weakness may be the result of an
extenuating condition, that a good diet and regular exercise
alone can not ameliorate, ask your doctor about the following
medications, prescribed under certain diagnoses.

Corticosteroids: preferred therapy for increasing muscle
strength; a common treatment for Muscular Dystrophy.

Dantrolene and Mexiletine: block muscle spasms and prevent

Velcade: a proteasome inhibitor that bolsters and supports
the structural integrity of muscle cells.

Orthopedic devices, such as ankle-foot orthoses and orthotics
that correct bad walking/running form.

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Green tea contains phytochemicals that
combat muscle deterioration.