ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why Do People Shake Their Legs?

Updated on February 27, 2015
NateB11 profile image

I have been working in the Human Services field since 1996, primarily working with people with developmental disabilities.

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.

Anxiety or restlessness can cause someone to shake their legs.
Anxiety or restlessness can cause someone to shake their legs.


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.

People dealing with stress or conditions like Restless Leg Syndrome will often relieve their symptoms with physical activity of some kind, like walking.
People dealing with stress or conditions like Restless Leg Syndrome will often relieve their symptoms with physical activity of some kind, like walking.

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.

Do you shake your legs a lot?

See results
Restlessness and stress can cause people to move around a lot.
Restlessness and stress can cause people to move around a lot.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Ronald Hart profile image

      Ronald Hart 

      7 months ago

      An informative piece of content.

    • pen promulgates profile image

      pen promulgates 

      2 years ago from Mumbai, India

      I shake my legs too.

      I guess I can relate to: very active physically, attention deficit. (not that I am physco, just too distracted) he he

      My nephew is autistic though..

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      2 years ago from California, United States of America

      Thanks, Roberta, much appreciated, I'm glad you had insight into this Hub and glad you liked it.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      The way you've covered this topic reminds me that we need to be careful not to make assumptions about people's behaviors. Thanks!

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      3 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      People with hyperthyroidism (Overactive thyroid) will often shake their legs.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      4 years ago from California, United States of America

      You're right, we've all seen people shake their legs, and I too have shaken my foot in bed. Glad you stopped by and glad you liked the article.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 

      4 years ago from Florida

      This was interesting. I think we have all been around someone at sometime that shakes their leg manically. I, actually, don't do this often during the day, but at night in bed, I shake my foot, not my leg, but I will move my foot back and forth. It helps me relax myself to sleep.

      Interesting article. :)

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      it is a bad habit hard to break. Once, I kept swinging my legs thru and fro when eating dinner. My mom had to shout at me and smack my legs till they hurt. I had stopped swinging or shaking

    • Engelta profile image


      4 years ago from Albania

      I shake them when:

      I am bored.

      I am cold.

      I have been sitting for a long time in a classroom.

      I can't wait for something to happen.

      I have anxiety.

      and lastly: when I get bored again.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      4 years ago from California, United States of America

      No problem, Rodric. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony 

      4 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I shake my legs due to pain from Neuropathy. It is mostly at night. Thanks for posting this article. It is informative.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)