How to Stop Legs from Shaking


Dealing with shaking legs can be annoying and frustrating. Fortunately, you may be able to get your legs to stop shaking if you address the cause. If your legs shake due to anxiety or nervousness, lifestyle changes that calm you down can help. Similarly, if restless leg syndrome (RLS) may be to blame, relaxing your muscles and treating your symptoms may stop the shaking. Finally, leg shaking during exercise can be calmed by staying hydrated and getting enough rest. However, if you don't know the cause of your leg shaking, it's best to consult your doctor.

Part 1
Calming Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes

Calming Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Slowly inhale through your nose for a count of 5, feeling your stomach expand. Then, exhale slowly to a count of 5, letting your stomach deflate. Repeat for 5 breaths or until you start to feel relaxed.[1] If you can, close your eyes while you breathe deeply. You can do this breathing exercise everytime you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or fidgety. Tip: Simply counting your breaths can help you relax.

Calming Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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You can keep your knees together or spread them apart, depending on what’s comfortable to you. Sitting this way can help you prevent your leg from shaking. Additionally, it sends the message to your body that you are relaxed.[2] If one leg tends to shake more than the other, make it the bottom leg by crossing the non-shaking leg over it at the ankle.

Calming Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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This means avoiding coffee, some teas, soda, and chocolate. Unfortunately, caffeine can make your leg shaking worse because it can trigger restlessness, agitation, and jitters. It’s best to just skip it if you have trouble with shaking legs.[3] You can still have your favorite beverages! Just look for decaffeinated options of your favorite coffee, tea, or soda.

Calming Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Low blood sugar makes you moody, which is why many people get upset when they’re hungry. If you’re prone to feeling anxious or nervous, low blood sugar will make it harder to deal with these emotions, causing you to experience more symptoms, such as shaking legs.[4] For example, you might eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the option of 2 snacks if you feel hungry. If you know you’re about to do something that makes you anxious, such as a client meeting, eat beforehand.

Calming Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Everyone experiences stress in their lives, but too much stress can leave you feeling anxious and nervous all of the time. Fortunately, stress management techniques can help you calm down and relax. Here are some great ways to reduce your stress:[5] Meditate for 5-10 minutes a day. Go for a walk in nature. Do something creative, like draw or sing. Engage in your hobbies. Discuss your feelings with a friend. Write in your Journal. Play with your pet. Color in an adult coloring book.

Calming Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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It’s normal to need extra help coping with your anxiety, so don’t hesitate to work with a mental health professional. They can help you talk through your issues and learn new ways to cope with the anxiety you feel. Over time, this can help you relieve the nervousness that’s causing your shaking legs.[6] Ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional or search for one online.

Part 2
Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome

Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Although soaking is your best option, a shower can also help. Warm water can soothe and relax your muscles, making them less likely to shake. Spend at least 20 minutes in the water to give yourself time to feel the effects.[7] If you bathe right before bed, you may be able to go to sleep more easily. For added relaxation, add a calming scent like lavender or eucalyptus to the water. You can use essential oils or scented bath salts.

Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Apply lotion or a few drops of massage oil onto your skin. Then, use your palms to apply even pressure to your leg muscles. Next, rub your legs, making slow, circular movements over your skin.[8] Although the lotion or massage oil is optional, it will make it much easier to massage yourself without irritating your skin. If you have a partner, they may be willing to massage your legs for you.

Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Choose an activity that’s relaxing to you, then do it for at least 30 minutes before bed. This will help you calm your mind and get ready for sleep, which may help you avoid leg twitches. If you consistently do your relaxing activity before bed, your body will start to anticipate going to sleep, making it easier to do so.[9] For instance, you might read, doodle, listen to podcasts, color, do a crossword puzzle, listen to calming music, or crochet. Make sure the activity you choose is calming to you. For example, some people might get too into a book to quit reading. If that’s the case for you, it may be best to pick a different activity.

Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Sometimes taking a short walk can get your leg to stop shaking, so get out of bed if you feel it happen. Walk to your kitchen or bathroom, then get back into the bed. In many cases, moving the muscles will be enough to get them to stop shaking.[10] Although this might not always work, it may help you avoid laying in bed with your leg continuously shaking.

Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Being more active helps work the muscles that shake. Additionally, it can help you be more relaxed. If you’re consistent in your workouts, you’ll likely experience less leg shaking.[11] For example, you might walk, jog, swim, take a gym class, follow along with a DVD or streaming workout, or use a cardio machine. Choose a workout that’s fun for you so it’s easier for you to stick to it. Warning: Exercising late in the day can make your leg shaking worse, so it’s important to do it in the morning, afternoon, or early evening. If you experience leg shaking after exercising later in the day, move your workout to earlier in the day.

Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Unfortunately, sitting for long periods of time can trigger RLS. However, sometimes you can't avoid sitting for a long time, such as when you’re at work or on a plane. To help you avoid shaking, get up and walk around for a couple of minutes every hour. This will help you release the tension in your muscles.[12] Even walking in place can help you feel better.

Dealing with Restless Leg Syndrome on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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If your RLS is really bothering you, medications can help you find relief. Your doctor will help you figure out the best treatment for you. For example, your doctor may prescribe one of the following:[13] Medicines that boost dopamine, like ropinirole (Requip), rotigotine (Neupro) and pramipexole (Mirapex) Medications that alter your calcium channels, such as gabapentin (Neurontin), gabapentin enacarbil (Horizant) and pregabalin (Lyrica) Opioids that can help with pain, like combined hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Norco, Vicodin) Muscle relaxers or sleep medications, such as clonazepam (Klonopin)

Part 3
Relieving Shaking Legs During Exercise

Relieving Shaking Legs During Exercise on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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When your body gets dehydrated, you may have an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause muscle shaking. If you're dehydrated during your workout, leg shaking is a common effect. Fortunately, it’s easy to stop the shaking by drinking more water or sports drinks.[14] It’s best to increase your fluids before a workout, especially if you plan to push yourself. Drink 16 to 20  fl oz (0.47 to 0.59 L) of fluids in the 2-3 hours before your workout so you’re properly hydrated.

Relieving Shaking Legs During Exercise on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Your muscles may shake if you’re working them too hard or doing an exercise you’ve never tried before. You don’t have to stop your workout, but it’s best to slow down the intensity so you can focus on your form. That way you can progress in your workout but will avoid accidental injury.[15] Warning: If your muscles are shaking during a workout, it’s likely that you will not be using proper form for whatever exercise you’re doing. This means you can easily injure yourself. By slowing down, you can make sure your form is correct.

Relieving Shaking Legs During Exercise on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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While you likely want to boost your fitness level fast, overworking your body can be harmful in the long-run. One consequence of working out too much is shaking muscles, especially the ones in your legs. The easy fix for this is giving yourself 1-2 days of rest each week, depending on the intensity of your workouts.[16] If you get moderate exercise, 1 day of rest each week might be enough for you, though you should listen to your body. If you do vigorous exercise, rest at least 2 days a week.

Relieving Shaking Legs During Exercise on How to Stop Legs from Shaking

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Your body repairs itself during sleep, which includes repairing and rebuilding your muscles. If you aren’t sleeping enough, your muscles might not get enough time to fully recover from your prior day’s workout. This can result in shaking legs. However, sleeping more can help you stop your legs from shaking during future workouts.[17] Follow a sleep routine to help you go to sleep easier. This can include getting ready for bed, doing a relaxing activity right before bed, and turning off screens. Turn down your thermostat to make your bedroom cool, which will help you go to sleep more easily. Similarly, choose comfortable bedding.