Photo: Getty Images/Astrakan Images
In coffeeshops, on dates, while riding the subway, and throughout work calls, this fidgeting is so omnipresent that I rarely notice it until a friend places a steadying hand on my leg to quiet the tapping. This habit isn’t unique; my dad, brother, and several friends do it, too.
Why do we subconsciously shake our legs? And is there anything that can be done to tame the habit? I spoke to a psychiatrist and a neuroscience expert to hear what they have to say about this common tic.
Taking stock of my leg shaking
As I started working on this story, I spent two weeks tracking the when, where, and why of the habit. I’d be waiting for a friend at a cafe and left alone with my mental to-dos for a moment too long… and my boot would start clicking against the table. Or I’d be on a Zoom call listening to person after person present, knowing that my turn is approaching; with a mix of nerves and anticipation… tap, tap tap.