The short answer that the experts won't tell you: It is a response to unhealed trauma.
If you claim you have a lot of energy and get it out by bouncing your leg, you aren’t entirely wrong. But this “energy” is likely a form of PTSD. That bouncing is stored trauma we haven’t released. It shows up in our bodies and has been proven scientifically many times over. There are great books by Bessel Van Der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score) and Peter Levine, who wrote (In an Unspoken Voice) who are both experts in PTSD, that looked into this phenomenon.
Specifically, a part of the brain is meant to act like a gate that closes and opens as we process information. In the case of the bouncing leg syndrome, the gate is stuck open. That part of the brain has been flooded by an experience or series of experiences that were too overwhelming to process. That trauma creates the gate open “stuck” position. Whether it is a bouncing leg, nervous tick, having to count things, cracking our knuckles…all are a sign of unhealed trauma.
In the bouncing leg, the movement goes into the leg specifically because the lower body can be an extremely emotional place. It’s how we move and get around. With PTSD, we’re stuck and don’t want to move forward (walk). So we bounce our legs. It’s a metaphor for, “No, I’m not going to move. I’m not going to let this go. I’m not ready to. I’m not ready to step into and claim my life, I’m hurting”.
Many people are detached from it and likely don’t even realize they are bouncing their legs. A suggestion would be to look introspectively as the urge arises and ask, “what am I really feeling right now?”
You may say, “it’s just energy.” Is it energy? Or is it fear? Most will notice feeling anxious. Anxiety is caused by unhealed trauma! Emotion from the past has not been healed and this is the body's way of alerting us that we need to address the painful moments from the past we have attempted to ignore, suppress, repress, minimize or deny.
I also did this video to help you heal the trauma that creates the need to bounce your leg.
Enjoy The Journey! 🕺🏼
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