Why Do My Legs Ache at Night After Walking?

When you are asking yourself the question, why do my legs ache at night after walking, the feelings you are going through may be overwhelming. This could be a condition or situation where it feels like it never ends. Leg pain at night, however, is very common, and not always indicative that something very serious is going on. If you are experiencing leg aching at night after walking regularly, you will want to seek medical attention.

When your legs hurt at night, you are among the 60 percent of adults that experience this debilitating condition. For your aching legs when lying down, treatment is available. These leg pains could be a result of charley horses which are muscle spasms in the calf or thigh that could last for several minutes. 

These leg pains could be a sign of something more chronic, however, or even an indicator of a serious condition. In many cases, treating the pain can be as simple as taking anti-inflammatories, applying heat, or getting a massage in the areas where you are experiencing pain. For more serious pain or chronic problems of leg pain at night, you will want to talk to your doctor. 

Use this guide to learn more about leg pain at night and what you can do about it.

What causes leg pain at night after walking?

There are a number of different causes of leg pain at night after walking, but it can be very difficult to identify exactly what it is that is making your legs hurt at night. There are some types of leg pain that have no direct or known cause. You may just have worn the wrong shoes on your walk, twisted something without realizing it, or walked too long or far for your health and age.

Known issues that contribute to leg pain at night include nerve damage or neuropathy, restless leg syndrome, peripheral artery disease, arthritis, and varicose veins. Pregnant women may also be at more risk of leg pain at night after walking and may be at a greater risk of varicose veins as well. In some cases, you may simply have tired legs or an odd muscle cramp and don’t have a medical condition contributing to leg pain at night.

In other cases, more serious conditions such as kidney failure, heart problems, and nerve damage can be the reason your legs hurt at night. If you are taking medication that has the tendency to make you urinate more frequently, you may also experience more leg pain at night. Although as much as 60 percent of the population may experience this, there are almost as many different causes of leg pain as there are people that experience it.

If you are experiencing leg pain after walking and it is not happening every day, then some at-home remedies can help you to fall asleep again. If the situation is chronic or persistent, then it may be time to talk to your doctor about leg pain at night. It is possible that an underlying condition is causing this problem. Although there are as many different treatments and underlying conditions, the more common physiological causes of leg pain at night include:

  • Peripheral Artery Disease
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Neuropathy
  • Varicose veins

Talk to your doctor about every possibility.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease or PAD is as serious as it sounds. This condition can make your legs hurt at night because it happens when your peripheral arteries narrow and take blood from one part of your body to another. Lower extremity PAD is the most common form of PAD. Here, your legs experience reduced blood flow and this is why your legs hurt at night. This condition is caused by atherosclerosis and is a serious condition.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is much different than the average night of painful legs. Restless leg syndrome occurs when you can not sleep because your legs will not stop moving. This is a very uncomfortable position and can include pain, but the pain is not agonizing. 

With this disorder, your legs have a crawling feeling on them and you can’t stop wanting to move your legs. The restlessness can end when you move around, but you are still suffering with some discomfort when that happens.


Arthritis is a condition where the cartilage in between your joints begins to break down. This results in symptoms such as swelling and pain, and some stiffness on occasion. Leg aching at night, particularly after a walk, is very common for people that suffer from arthritis. You may find that your joints are difficult or hot when touched, and you may even experience a fever.


Neuropathy refers to nerve damage and this can impact the legs and feet. The most common kind of neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of people with diabetes will have neuropathy at some point in their lives. 

This nerve damage can cause incredible pain in the feet and legs, particularly after walking. Talk to your doctor about your leg pain if you feel it may have something to do with neuropathy, which can become a debilitating condition.

Varicose Veins

A varicose vein is a vein that has blood pooled in it to the extent that the vein swells up close to the skin. These veins are the blood vessels responsible for moving blood to the heart. These veins work against gravity when it comes to moving blood, and this is often the cause of varicose veins. 

These veins occur in the legs the most with people that stand a lot or do a lot of walking, as the blood is constantly fighting against gravity. If your legs hurt at night or you are always asking why do my legs ache at night after walking, check to see if you have varicose veins. There are easy treatment options here.

A woman stretches to help keep her legs from aching at night

How to Relieve Leg Pain at Night After Walking?

When your legs hurt at night after walking, there are many at-home solutions. Using homeopathic remedies like stretching and massage or heat therapy can bring tremendous instant relief when your legs hurt at night. Use these methods of at-home treatment for leg pain at night after walking.


In most cases, stretching can help relieve leg pain at night. Stretch the length of your leg and extend your foot. Circle your foot around clockwise and counterclockwise. Lift your leg and point your toes towards you. Keep stretching until the cramps or the feelings begin to subside. Getting blood flow is the goal here, you aren’t reinventing Pilates for the world right now. Even walking on your heels can alleviate leg pain. It will get the blood flowing with different gravitational angles and you may find some relief.


Massage is a wonderful way to deal with leg pain at night after walking, and can bring relief to restless leg syndrome or other kinds of leg pain. Deep tissue massages could also alleviate any leg cramps. You can massage with your hands, or use rollers and massage tools that you might get at the drugstore.

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy can help bring relief to muscle cramps, and can get blood circulating the way it needs to after a walk. You can add warm compresses to the sore legs for relief. A long bath will also work wonders. Heat loosens muscles and gets blood flowing where you want it to, and away from what is hurting.

Over-the-Counter Medication

When you have tried everything and massage or heat is not treating the leg pain, try some over-the-counter medication to bring relief. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) or acetaminophen may help. It may still take you some time until you fall asleep, but within 30 or 45 minutes you should begin to find some relief with your legs.

When to Seek Medical Help?

There is always going to be the chance that leg pain at night might be an indicator of a serious underlying problem. The problem could be as serious as Lou Gehrig’s disease or heart disease. It may be an indicator of a manageable condition such as diabetes, kidney problems, or osteoarthritis. There are so many different things that chronic leg pain at night after walking can be indicating. Every person is different.

You want to see a doctor if the pain is not going away or is getting worse. That is often an indicator that you may have a serious health concern. At the same time, you may have just pulled a muscle or are having a long heal from a sprain. Insomnia is another big issue with chronic leg pain at night. If you aren’t sleeping, talk to your doctor about it. When the pain can not go away, and the sleep does, just talk to someone about it.

Tips for Preventing Leg Pain at Night After Walking

When your legs hurt at night after walking regularly, you should consider making some small lifestyle changes. These aren’t necessarily home remedies, but they are strategies that can help you enjoy your walks more.

Wearing Comfortable Shoes

If you have a lot of leg pain, comfortable shoes will make a big difference in your walks, and in your nightly pain. Take the time in picking out the right pair of shoes. Do not buy your evening walk shoes online. Walk around the store with every pair of shoes that you try on until you find the ones that make you feel like you are walking on air.

Gradually Increasing Walking Distance

It may seem counterintuitive to leg pain, but walking more can help. That is because you can get a lot more blood flowing with longer stints of walking at a time. When you lengthen your walks you will increase the amount of blood flow to your legs, and this could improve conditions like neuropathy and other cardiovascular issues that cause leg pain at night.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

If you need to lose weight, working on that is an excellent way to find relief in your leg pain at night. Carrying excess weight can create a burden on your cardiovascular system, and add pressure to your legs. Remember that your legs support you all day, every day. When your legs have added weight to hold up, the added strain could place a burden on your legs that causes pain at night. Keep your weight as healthy as you can, and longer walks can help you to do that.

Staying Hydrated

Hydration is an important part of every well-functioning cardiovascular system and every nervous system that is also functioning well. Stay hydrated and you give your internal systems everything that they need to function seamlessly. Water for the body is like oil for the car, you just need to do it more frequently. Keep drinking water and your cells and cell tissues stay plumper and happier and can function more seamlessly for you. The end result is going to be less leg pain at night.

Prevent Leg Aches From Walking at Night

When you are taking your long walks at night, you want to be able to enjoy them. You don’t want to have to dread the aftermath of your walk and fret over a long sleepless night ahead. Use these tips in this guide to understand leg pain at night a little bit more, and take the steps you need to improve this condition. If it continues or is serious, call the doctor for an opinion and talk to someone about it. You don’t have to suffer without sleep. Leg pain at night can be treated.

Photo of author

Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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