Muscle atrophy is loss of mass and / or size of the muscle tissue because of some disease, disuse or trauma. Reduction in physical activity leads to muscle loss within 72 hours. The muscles of your legs are usually the first to atrophy and weaken. However, through a well-structured exercise program it is possible to regain lost muscle mass and tone.
Causes And Symptoms Of Leg Muscle Atrophy
- The commonest cause for leg muscle atrophy is disuse. No activity due to trauma, illness, sedentary job, etc. lead to loss of leg muscle.
- Malnutrition inhibits muscle growth and causes your body to use muscle proteins for energy.
- Alcoholism is another important reason.
- Muscle loss also occurs as you age.
- Disease or trauma affecting the nerves that connect the muscles. Guillain-Barre syndrome, polio and neuropathy are nerve disorders triggering atrophy.
Symptoms: The muscles of the legs atrophy and waste away; it becomes difficult to walk or stand for long periods. The hip, knee and ankle are at increased risk of injury; there will be associated joint pain.
Exercises To Build Leg Muscle After Atrophy
You need to discuss with your health care provider regarding the cause for the leg muscle atrophy. Do not neglect. He may ask you to carry out a few tests and investigations so as to ascertain the precise cause. Therapy comprises of a multi-disciplinary program. Your doctor will work with a physical therapist to structure a treatment plan that is best suited for you.
- Increasing physical activity prevents as well as treats muscle atrophy successfully. Experts recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, along with 2 strength training workouts per week. Make sure that you do activities which make use of the legs, such as walking, jogging, running, elliptical training, cycling or climbing. Strength training exercises which focus on the hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles will help build muscle mass in the affected legs.
- If the wasting of the muscle is due to some injury or a disorder, you need to consult your health care provider. Physiotherapy designed to work around your specific condition rebuilds the wasted muscle. In case of nerve damage, the connection between the muscle and nerve needs to be re-established to re-instate the normal muscle functioning. In certain cases surgical intervention becomes necessary before you can start muscle rebuilding.
- Muscles grow stronger and larger through exercise. Strengthening exercises targeted at the gastrocnemius muscles such as – the standing calf raise will help in rebuilding the lower leg. Stand on top of a step. Place your feet such that only the balls of your feet remain on the step while the heels hang over the edge of the step. Push off the balls of the feet and raise the heels up as far as you can. Very gradually lower the heels down until you feel a slight stretch in the muscles of the calves. Do 2 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. To increase the intensity of the exercise, do it with one leg at a time and / or hold a dumbbell in each hand. However, do confer with your health care provider / physiotherapist before you embark upon any exercise routine.