Shaking legs in body language

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why it happens

Why do people shake their legs for no apparent reason?
I am pretty sure it happened to you before that you found yourself shaking your legs while sitting.

Shaking the legs is one of the gestures that can be done for so many reasons. A person can shake his leg if he felt, bored, anxious, worried, tensed or stressed. See also the body language of anxiety

Just like the other body language gestures this gesture is an unconscious one which means that a person doesn't usually shake his leg on intention but he just does it to feel better or to maintain his emotional balance.

Situations where this gesture can be seen

This gesture can usually be seen in many situations. Those situations include:

  • 1- Waiting for something such as your turn in a job interview
  • 2- While working
  • 3- While sitting alone
  • 4- While talking to others

You might believe that you have never done that gesture before but the interesting thing about body language is that as soon as you learn about a gesture you consciously start to pay attention to it when you do it instead of just ignoring it. See introduction to body language.

I said before that your mind will usually ignore any gesture that doesn't seem to have any meaning or significance. In other words you might have been doing that gesture but your mind just didn't care about keeping it in your memory.

Some people have it as a habit

Some people do that gesture as a habit. They don't have to be worried or tensed in order to do it. There are many other causes that could lead to adopting such a habit. Those reasons include:

  • Hating to sit
  • Problems with attention
  • ADHD

According to one theory the parts of the brain responsible for physical movements overlap with the parts responsible for cognitive thinking. So by shaking the legs a person can actually help himself concentrate more or understand something in a better way.

Some people don't feel comfortable unless they shake their legs. In such a case you shouldn't try to make conclusions about the emotions those people are feeling because they might just be doing their regular habit. See also how to understand body language better.

If however a person who isn't used to doing that habit suddenly started shaking their legs then know that this person experienced one of the emotions discussed above.

One of the best ways to understand when that gesture actually takes place is to watch yourself. The good part here is that once you learn how to become fully conscious of your emotions connecting the dots would be an easy task.

First you need to learn how to monitor your thoughts and emotions as they come and go. This could be tricky in the beginning but once you do it you won't find a problem in doing so. See how to live consciously.

Next you need to consciously monitor each gesture you do so that you can connect the emotions that you experience with the gestures you take.

Once you master that skill on yourself you can then move on to the next step which is understanding people by monitoring their body language.

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