Why Do I Rub My Feet Together­? (4 Possible Reasons Why We Do It)

Share this article:

Rubbing feet together can be caused by neurological conditions like periodic limb movement disorder and restless legs syndrome. It could also be a way of soothing yourself or even a mere habit. Small babies can rub their legs when they are uncomfortable or disturbed. You could also be rubbing your feet due to other underlying medical conditions.

You may acknowledge that there are so many involuntary body movements that many people engage in without even noticing.

You must know of that person constantly chewing their tongue, grinding their teeth, biting on their fingernails, and swaying their legs sideways, amongst many others.

Even though some of these movements are simple signs of anxiety and restlessness, some can be symptoms of more complex neurological, psychological, and medical conditions.

One of the severe body movements is involuntary rubbing your feet when trying to sleep.

Many people have complained and asked many questions about this runaway condition. Like many things we do when asleep, like snoring, talking in sleep, and teeth grinding, we may not notice we rub our feet together until someone alerts us or complains about it.

For those who share their bed, the rustling of feet within the sheets can be annoying to their partners.

This almost weird condition can affect people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. At the end of today, a lot of research may have revealed some of the reasons we rub our feet together when we go to bed.

Neurological conditions like periodic limb movement disorder and restless legs disorder may be responsible for this phenomenon.

It could be a self-soothing and unconscious action or a mere habit we have developed over time. Some other time it could be another underlying medical condition altogether.

But amongst infants, rubbing their feet is an effective way to communicate their needs since they cannot express themselves verbally.

4 reasons why we rub our feet together

1. Neurological conditions

Several neurological conditions are known to cause the involuntary movement of our arms either when sleeping or awake.

Some of them include Periodic Limb Movement Disorder PLMD and Restless Legs Syndrome. These conditions may be why you cannot keep yourself from rubbing your feet when sleeping.

Let’s discuss them separately.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

PLMD is considered a sleep disorder that affects so many people across the globe. It causes you to move and even jerk your limbs in your sleep. Even though the limb moving action is involuntary, it can cause a lot of disruption to your sleep.

Most people with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder tend to move only their legs in their sleep, but the condition can also cause the movement of hands in sleep.

Another notable symptom of PLMD is the sleepiness during daytime it causes to its sufferers because of all the disruption in sleep at night. Sleepiness can end up negatively affecting daytime activities like work and school.

Restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome seems like PLMD. The main difference is the urge or a particular craving within a person to move or rub their feet together.

The urge is irresistible and overpowering to anyone with this syndrome, and it can set in during wakefulness or hours of sleep. With this syndrome, you will always find it hard to rest easily or lay still.

Your bed partner will always have a say about your incessant and unending restlessness, yet they may not know that you are indeed the victim of a most disturbing disorder.

You will have to visit a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and help.

2. Unconscious way of soothing oneself

A woman is rubbing her feet together as a way of self-soothing

What do you feel when you are troubled, and someone hugs you and rubs your back? Or, better still, when somebody gives you a good massage after a long and tiresome day? You feel relaxed and calm.

Do you know why you feel relaxed? The answer is very simple; skin contact is a very powerful nervous tool that can elicit many sensations and mental perceptions.

When you rub your feet together in bed, your body may apply the exact mechanism and try to make you feel calm, relaxed, and soothed.

3. Habitual action

Some people say that habit is next to nature.

The saying is very much applicable when it comes to the context of rubbing feet together and other involuntary bodily movements.

Some people chew their nails out of habit, others incessantly wag their tongues inside their mouths, and the list is endless.

Breaking from a long-time habit can be an uphill task, yet given dedication, you can end this foot rubbing habit if it annoys you or your bed partner.

4. Rubbing feet in infants

Mom is holding her infant baby's feet who was rubbing her feet together

Infants, unlike the rest of us, cannot verbally express themselves. They communicate through crying, noises, and actions like rubbing their feet together.

When you see your infant rubbing its feet together, it may be uncomfortable from something. Check her diaper or anything else that is disturbing it.


Do I have some form of autism?

Autistic people can also display some unconscious repeated bodily movement as a form of restlessness.
They can learn to use them to boost their confidence when they realize they have such movements and how they soothe or calm them.


You may have no problem at all with rubbing your feet together.

But it would be advisable to seek medical attention if it causes you a sleepy and disoriented daytime like in PLMD.

Suppose it is a habit you can do your best to get out of it to save you from discomfort or avoid constant complaints from your bed partner.

Share this article:

Was this article helpful?
Nudrat Naheed
Hi, I am Nudrat, The Heart And Brain author, IR student, and painter. Writing about health fascinates me because it helps me to explore a new healthy routine and share it with others. I write primarily about general health, pregnancy, postpartum, and allergies here. If you don't find me writing, I'm busy painting or reading on global politics.

We’re proud to be a team of writers who are truly passionate about all things health.

Coming together from all parts of the world, we share a common goal of helping serve many with our comprehensive research and clear writing style. Learn more.

Nutrition & Diet