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  #1  
Old 04-15-2009, 11:50 PM
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Why do people shake their legs while sitting down?

Deep thoughts? Dancing to the songs in their heads? The onset of Tourette's? Restless legs syndrome?

Sheer boredom?
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  #2  
Old 04-16-2009, 01:58 AM
Cyberhwk Cyberhwk is offline
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To be honest I have no idea why I do it. I'd gladly stop if I could but it's a compulsion.
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  #3  
Old 04-16-2009, 03:23 AM
wolf-alice wolf-alice is offline
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Because it's comfy, I suppose. Also it really helped when I took up drumming and discovered that for twenty-six years I'd conditioned myself to have a really speedy kick drum foot, so perhaps I was unconsciously training in speed metal
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  #4  
Old 04-16-2009, 04:39 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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It's not natural for humans to sit still for long periods of time. It's a modern convention to just sit on our asses all day. And when doing so we naturally get restless sometimes. That's my theory.
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  #5  
Old 04-16-2009, 06:02 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Restlessness. It helps to stem off the desire to run away screaming from a situation where you're forced to stay put for long periods of time.
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  #6  
Old 04-16-2009, 06:20 AM
Stauderhorse Stauderhorse is offline
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Being restless, as others have said. I never start shaking my leg at the beginning of a class, but when there are ten minutes left and the teacher keeps going on and on and I just want him to finish so I can leave...that's when it starts.
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  #7  
Old 04-16-2009, 06:34 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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They're being forced to sit when their full of energy that needs to be used.
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  #8  
Old 04-16-2009, 08:05 AM
Litoris Litoris is offline
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For me, it's just pent-up energy, I think. Not that I'm so much restless as I just never stop moving.
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  #9  
Old 04-16-2009, 08:07 AM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is online now
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I'm the most appalling leg-jiggler. I tend to blame my low blood pressure - I figure my body's just trying any way to keep the stuff circulating.

I don't know if this is related, but I also can't bear to stand still for long periods of time. If there's a long wait at the train station (ie more than two minutes) I'll be the one pacing up and down the platform from end to end - I can do that for hours without a problem but ten minutes of standing still in one spot and I feel like my heart's thumping out of my chest.

I'm jiggling as I type this, of course...
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  #10  
Old 04-16-2009, 11:07 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Like other forms of fidgeting, I think it helps focus my mind - seriously. And unlike fiddling with something at hand, it leaves my hands free to type.

There are a surprising number of hits on the subject! I googled "why jiggle leg when sitting" and one of the first hits (from the Google summary) suggested it looked like Parkinson's!! (more info on the page said that nope, it was probably unconnected)

I suspect it's all a form of self-stimulating behavior - careful how you google that, some hits are for >>that<< kind, though most are for the neurological sort as seen in autism. One in particular was fascinating in that it discussed stims that had become acceptable - like playing with hair or with a piece of jewelry.

Of interest -I find that when I'm jiggling a leg, or doing something else that takes just a *little* of my attention (e.g. playing minesweeper or Bejeweled on my PDA), I do a MUCH better job of listening to a speaker. Strange. It's almost like I need something focused - but not TOO much so - for my brain to keep it from wandering everywhere and totally ignoring the speaker.
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  #11  
Old 04-16-2009, 12:49 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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I have no idea. I don't do it as much as I did when I was younger, but it's a habit -- I'm not aware I'm doing it until someone points it out to me.
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  #12  
Old 04-16-2009, 01:08 PM
Kiber Kiber is offline
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For me - it's because of my Restless Leg Syndrome. Yes - If I didn't have it, I'd make fun of it too. And to be honest, I do make fun of it pretty regularly since it sounds like I'm part of an SNL skit. Basically - it's like the feeling you get when you sit in a tight airplane seat for 6+ hours without moving - a compulsion to move and try to release the tension. Except that when it's bad - it happens all the time. Before I knew what I had - I would bounce my legs a lot in an effort to release the tension. Now I know it doesn't help me any and actually seems to make it worse. Luckily - I'm able to control it through regular exercise, so as long as I'm running 4-5 times a week, it doesn't bother me. Otherwise . . . . . .
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  #13  
Old 04-16-2009, 01:28 PM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
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Because the meeting...shake shake shake...just will not...shake shake shake....end! Oh god, more slides? I'm done reading the bullet points move on already...shake shake shake...
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  #14  
Old 04-16-2009, 01:31 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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I try not to do it when other people are around. But when I'm alone in my office- hey, it's exercise of a sort that I don't find too difficult or boring (like I do most types of exercise- at least I can look at interesting stuff online while I do this).
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  #15  
Old 04-16-2009, 01:32 PM
MeanOldLady MeanOldLady is offline
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Because I'm one those impatient, insufferable, fidgety people who gets annoyed when people walk too slowly down the grocery store aisles, and wants to cause bodily harm to people who use the elevator to move up one floor.
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  #16  
Old 04-16-2009, 01:54 PM
Terminus Est Terminus Est is offline
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It keeps the circulation going in the legs to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
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  #17  
Old 04-16-2009, 02:09 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I don't do it nearly as much as I used to, but the funny thing is that I can only do the sewing-machine thing with my right leg. Not only can I not really do it with the left, the left is unsatisfying.
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  #18  
Old 04-16-2009, 07:38 PM
PopeJewish PopeJewish is offline
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Originally Posted by Stauderhorse View Post
Being restless, as others have said. I never start shaking my leg at the beginning of a class, but when there are ten minutes left and the teacher keeps going on and on and I just want him to finish so I can leave...that's when it starts.
As a teacher I can honestly say we want the class to end just as much as you do, but I'm usually standing/walking around so I don't need to shake my leg or anything

I'm also one of those drummers that everyone hates. Sitting at a desk with nothing to do I tend to drum out little beats I have going in my head. That pisses people off
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  #19  
Old 04-16-2009, 08:02 PM
Dr. Woo Dr. Woo is online now
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I do it all the time, and always have. My husband says I even do it in my sleep.

I assume it's because of the ADHD, but it could be I'm just fidgety. I also pace rather than stand still and fiddle with stuff endlessly. Like Zsofia, my right leg is the dominant fidgeter.
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  #20  
Old 04-16-2009, 08:37 PM
Kyrie Eleison Kyrie Eleison is offline
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Interesting fact: Leg shakers and other fidgeters perform better on standardized tests. But don't ask for a cite -- I remember this being reported in a credible news source years ago, back when I fidgeted more.
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  #21  
Old 04-16-2009, 08:44 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I have also read that fidgeters are skinnier because they burn those tiny little calories.
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  #22  
Old 04-17-2009, 12:17 AM
horsetech horsetech is offline
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Crap, I must not be fidgeting enough.

Or, to look at it the other way, if I didn't fidget, I'd have to carry my flab around in a shopping cart.
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  #23  
Old 04-17-2009, 05:24 PM
conurepete conurepete is offline
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For the same reason pigeons bob their heads when they walk.
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  #24  
Old 04-18-2009, 04:28 PM
threeorange threeorange is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyrie Eleison View Post
Interesting fact: Leg shakers and other fidgeters perform better on standardized tests. But don't ask for a cite -- I remember this being reported in a credible news source years ago, back when I fidgeted more.
Interesting. I'm a fidgeter who has never scored lower than the 89th percentile in any standardized test I've ever taken.
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  #25  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:25 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is online now
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I've jiggled my crossed leg since the day I learned to sit in a chair and cross my legs. I do it more when anxious or bored. Much of life is anxiety and boredom. I used to be criticized for it by a fat, bovine teacher when I was young and I can only surmise that she was jealous of the fact I could cross my legs and she coild not.
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  #26  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:29 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I am a leg jiggler. Right now I have my right leg crossed over my left and my right foot LOCKED around my left leg and the darn left leg is STILL jiggling.

LOL

I think it's just habit, I have jiggled my legs since I can remember. I recall my mother telling me to stop it before I was even in school (bad manners you know)

And it has nothing to do with energy, 'cause I do it even when I'm dead tired. I really think it's just a habit, at least for me

Last edited by Markxxx; 04-18-2009 at 05:33 PM..
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  #27  
Old 04-18-2009, 10:05 PM
Small Hen Small Hen is offline
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Veins don't have the same pumping pressure that arteries have. Muscle contractions in the legs force blood upward, circulating the blood.

So says my biology teacher.
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  #28  
Old 09-28-2009, 12:10 AM
Zentr Zentr is offline
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Well I really don't think that this is a "compulsion" that cannot be controlled. I think a lot of people are right, and we do it out of nervousness and anxiety. Sometimes I've noticed myself doing it when I didn't think I was nervous or anxious, but a further look into the expectations of my life denote that perhaps there are a few things I find troubling at the moment that I just hadn't been paying attention to. Other times, I think it is such a regular thing for people, they begin to do it because they don't know how to sit still. Fortunately, that is something that can be learned, and please, by all means, if you're a leg shaker, DO learn to control this!
I used to be guilty of leg shaking all too often. I also was called out on this a lot and asked not to do it. I thought of how impossible it must be to stop shaking my leg because it almost felt as if things were too still if I didn't, so it obviously felt unnatural when stopping, but now, more or less, I have stopped. Occasionally, if I have a lot to do or get nervous at work, I tend to shake my sillies out a bit, but often catch myself. My boyfriend on the other hand, does it SO often, I'm about to amputate him. Now I'm on the receiving end, and it's not so pleasant. I've asked him to stop quite a lot and he said that it annoys him not to, so there for he won't. Sounds kind of like a terrible addiction to a drug or something, hmm... Ha!
Well anyway, for all you leg shakers out there, please, please consider the livelihood of the people around you. It is probably one of the most irritating little ticks out there, especially when the car or floor or row of seats keeps shaking! It's not as if it is really necessary at all anyway.
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  #29  
Old 09-28-2009, 07:29 AM
silvermist silvermist is offline
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I think it's anxiety. Used to do it a lot as a teenager, not so much as an adult. Now I'm going through a transition and find that I do it on occasion when I have to sit for long spells.
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  #30  
Old 09-28-2009, 07:54 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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In a retirement home it's a piss shiver.

At work it a constant repression of kicking a coworkers ass as they drone on and on.
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  #31  
Old 09-28-2009, 10:11 AM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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I don't know why they do it, but it's really annoying when I'm at the theatre and the row of seats keep shaking because of someone a few seats down. Sit still when you're in public, people!
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  #32  
Old 09-28-2009, 10:42 AM
MissIntent MissIntent is offline
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My mom and all my siblings and I do it. I always figured it was something either genetic or learned. But honestly it's an unconscious thing. I don't even realize I'm doing it unless someone brings it up (like right now).

And I know I annoy people doing it in public (I got yelled at once during a world series of poker event), but really I don't know I'm doing it! It just happens!
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  #33  
Old 09-28-2009, 01:01 PM
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And I guess this proves even zombies get the shakes.
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  #34  
Old 09-28-2009, 02:45 PM
Nava Nava is offline
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To make me nervous?
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  #35  
Old 09-28-2009, 04:42 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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As it happened I was shaking my leg when I came on this thread. Why do I do it? Not the foggiest. I also drum my fingers, play with my untensils while waiting for a meal in a restaurant. It all drives my wife mad and I try not to, but find myself doing it anyway.
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  #36  
Old 09-28-2009, 08:12 PM
phouka phouka is offline
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ADD/ADHD.

In order to focus on something when I'd rather be doing something else, I have to hyper-stimulate my brain. The leg jiggling helps tremendously. I've even taught it to students because it's silent and allows them to fidget without bugging others.
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  #37  
Old 09-29-2009, 08:55 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Ha! I'm doing this right now. I started it in college and I assumed it was the medication I was taking. Boy did I annoy the hell out of some classmates. But I'm no longer taking the medication and I still do it. It's a nervous habit, I guess. It comforts me.

Last edited by Spice Weasel; 09-29-2009 at 08:56 AM..
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  #38  
Old 09-29-2009, 10:28 AM
chowder chowder is offline
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I shake my leg when sitting down to try to dislodge my ferret which is clinging onto my ballsack
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  #39  
Old 09-29-2009, 11:02 AM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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Originally Posted by phouka View Post
ADD/ADHD.

In order to focus on something when I'd rather be doing something else, I have to hyper-stimulate my brain. The leg jiggling helps tremendously. I've even taught it to students because it's silent and allows them to fidget without bugging others.
Speak for yourself.

Jittery leg people drive me absolutely batty. I can often hear it as their clothes move/foot moves on the floor/leg rubs against something or other. I can often feel the thrum through the floor/seat/whatever. I can see it (although that one is minor it is distracting to me). It puts me on edge.

In private knock yourself out. Sitting next to me please stop.

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 09-29-2009 at 11:04 AM..
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  #40  
Old 09-12-2010, 11:03 AM
nylanyd nylanyd is offline
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leg shaking as pevention for thromboembolism

we are doing a research about it now. wish us luck for success.
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  #41  
Old 09-12-2010, 11:22 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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I've done it for years (though less as I get older). It's just a nervous habit.
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  #42  
Old 09-12-2010, 11:30 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I do this, it's just a habit I'd say.
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  #43  
Old 09-12-2010, 12:24 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Energy + Restlessness. I never do it when I first wake up and I'm still kind of sleepy and I never do it at the end of the day when I'm beat. It's when I'm wide awake and full of energy that my leg starts bouncing. My leg fails to bounce if I'm concentrating on something like a video game or a movie. If I'm just flipping through a magazine idly my foot gets at it again.
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  #44  
Old 09-12-2010, 01:01 PM
DoperChic DoperChic is online now
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Just posting to say that I initially read the thread title as "Why do people shave their legs while sitting down?".

I had this mental picture in my head of a woman trying her darndest to balance on one leg while wielding a razor aimed at the other leg. Not a pretty picture.


I don't shake my legs much when I sit but I do have to cross them in some way. It feels somehow unnatural if I don't.
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  #45  
Old 09-12-2010, 01:13 PM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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I did it for years but found that it annoyed or distracted people so I tried to stop. Now I wiggle my toes a lot and clench and release my thigh muscles. Gives me the movement I need while being less obvious and annoying to others.

Also, Double Zombie! Just can't keep a jiggling thread down!
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  #46  
Old 09-12-2010, 02:59 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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I am somewhat anxious and repetitive motion soothes me. But mostly it's just a habit I've always been prone to. I fidget almost non-stop. Eating more causes more fidgeting (and yes, I'm skinny).

Last edited by rhubarbarin; 09-12-2010 at 02:59 PM..
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  #47  
Old 09-12-2010, 05:28 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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I'm not a leg jiggler, but I do weirds thing with my feet, toes, and legs when I'm feeling very restless...which happens more frequently than I'm likely to admit if I had to give a number. I'll lift up a leg and kick it out, or clench real tight. I'll wiggle my toes or make them curl. I'll flex my feet upwards and keep them that way indefinitely (you know, like how you're supposed to do if you have a charlie horse). I can make my lower body be still with lots of conscious effort, but then the restlessness manifests in body-rocking, hand-flapping, finger wiggling, balling my hands into tight fists, head-shaking..well, you get the idea. The lower limb restlessness is preferable because it's not as noticeable if I'm sitting at a desk or table. And since my hands and arms are usually occupied when I sitting, the energy will naturally go downwards.

Sometimes medication can cause the kind of restlessness that I have. But I'm not taking those drugs. It has a name--akathisia--and I'm grateful that I now have a name for it instead of "acting and feeling crazy." It has gotten worse over time, for some reason. But I don't know what's causing it, nor what to do to make it go away. So most times I just ignore it when the "feeling" comes and ride it out as stoically as I can.

I'm know very well what conditions it's associated with. I just try not to think about them.
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  #48  
Old 09-12-2010, 09:54 PM
Serenata67 Serenata67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by threeorange View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyrie Eleison View Post
Interesting fact: Leg shakers and other fidgeters perform better on standardized tests. But don't ask for a cite -- I remember this being reported in a credible news source years ago, back when I fidgeted more.
Interesting. I'm a fidgeter who has never scored lower than the 89th percentile in any standardized test I've ever taken.
I'm right up there with standardized test scores, too. And I'm a fidgeter. I just feel the need to do it. Can't sit still.
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  #49  
Old 09-12-2010, 10:29 PM
Waffle Decider Waffle Decider is offline
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At my previous job, I had a fellow cow-orker who shook his legs non-stop. Vigorously. Also, to make this worse, how shall I put this... he was very heavy. It got extremely annoying when you could physically feel his non-stop shaking even when he was seated at the opposite corner of the conference room from you.
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  #50  
Old 09-12-2010, 10:47 PM
KinkiNipponTourist KinkiNipponTourist is offline
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In Japanese this is called 貧乏ゆすり(bimbou yusuri), which has no official translation that I can find, so I'll loosely call it 'the poor man's shake.' There are various theories as to how it came to be named this, including the idea that the action is reminiscent of a poor man shivering in the cold. Or the perhaps apocryphal assertion that loan sharks would shake the legs of borrowers when shaking them down for overdue repayment.
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