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Why Do People Shake Their Legs?
You have probably noticed, especially if you've found your way to this article, that some people shake their legs a lot. You might be sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, in the lobby waiting to be seated at the restaurant, in class; the guy or gal next to you is bouncing his or her knee or shaking their legs back and forth, appearing agitated or, maybe bored. Depending on your temperament or own idiosyncrasies, you might find it annoying or curious. Either way, you have probably asked why do people shake their legs.
There are several possibilities which we will now explore.
Many people find it easier to concentrate if they are doing something physical. You might go for a walk to think about a heavy issue that you're dealing with. If you are stuck at a desk in class, presented with a difficult task, you might shake your legs. Maybe even wring your hands.
Research has shown that there are overlaps in the areas of the brain that deal with motor functions and cognitive functions, so it's reasonable to assume that doing something physical might actually help you think.
It seems that if something is hard to do, there is a tendency to want to release nervous energy or even to run. Shaking your legs gives you a physical activity you can control without just running away.
Some people get bored easy and have a lot of energy and are physical. If the situation is under-stimulating to them, they might, essentially, compensate by shaking their legs.
Considering our current environment of heavy-duty stimulation, constantly, from various devices, the Internet, phones, etc. it is likely most people are accustomed to a quick and heavy dose of stimuli on a regular basis. If it all slows down and is less dramatic, one might engage body parts to make up the difference.
Of course, this can also happen if someone is overstimulated. Many of us have had the urge to move when there's too much going on.
Someone using some kind of stimulant, such as coffee or nicotine, can get a bit agitated and shake their legs when sitting. Of course, the stronger the stimulant, the worse the agitation.
Disorders and Disabilities
There is a host of conditions and disorders that might cause someone to shake their legs a lot.
Restless Leg Syndrome might be the most obvious one. With this disorder, the person gets an uncomfortable feeling in the legs and will often deal with it by shaking their legs. It modulates the "creepy" feeling in the legs and offers relief. In fact, the more still and at rest they are, the creepier the feeling gets; this is why they will often have the antsy feeling in their legs when they've gone to bed for the night.
People who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder will often shake their legs too. They feel like they have to move and one way they alleviate this urge is to shake their legs.
People with Autism often display repetitive movement and behavior, called stereotyped movements, often for the purpose of self-stimulation, in the field often referred to as "stimming". People with Autism are very sensitive to stimuli but also like to have control of it; they will repeat a movement over and over again as a way to self-soothe themselves.
Of course, someone dealing with anxiety will also shake and fidget to deal with their stress.
Generally you will see that this behavior tends to be a coping mechanism. Probably this is true no matter what the source of the behavior is.
Great Explanation of Stimming
So, there it is. People who shake their legs a lot could be stressed, they might be trying to focus on something, could be using stimulants or might have a condition like Restless Leg Syndrome, Anxiety or perhaps they are engaging in "stimming" because they have Autism.
Understandably, I suppose if you're observant, it does make you wonder why someone might shake their legs for no apparent reason; however, it appears there are various possible reasons for it.