My Legs Go Weak When I Yawn -- Causes
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May 26, 2015, last updated June 27, 2016

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Everybody yawns. Sometimes more than others: when you are
tired, bored, or sitting in a warm, stuffy waiting room. But does
yawning literally make you weak at the knees?

Some people, when they yawn, feel their legs and even their
whole body go weak. They have to stop or sit down for fear
their legs will actually give way underneath them. When your
legs go weak when you yawn it’s a frightening feeling. But why
does it happen? When does yawning cause leg weakness and
what can you do about it?

Why Do We Yawn?

Yawning happens when you involuntarily open your mouth to
take a deep breath of air. Your jaw widens and you close your
eyes. Once the air has been swallowed you close your mouth
and get back to normal. Yawning usually happens when you
are tired or bored but the medical reason for yawning has long
been shrouded in mystery.

The Greek physician Hippocrates ---called the Father of
Medicine ---studied yawning over 2,500 years ago and
proclaimed that yawning was useful for releasing noxious air
during a fever. In the 19th Century
, scientists believed that
yawning helped with breathing by rushing oxygen into the
blood and expelling carbon dioxide.

Recent studies have focused on why we yawn when we see
someone else yawning – the phenomena called "contagious
yawning". You may even be yawning just reading this article
about yawning. Experts believe yawning may be a primitive
form of communication, perhaps to help set everyone’s body
clocks to the same rhythm? Or to synchronize the sleep
behavior of a social group? Others believe that yawning helps
to reboot the brain when you are stressed, enhancing
concentration or focus, which is why athletes yawn before a
race, and musicians before a concert.

In 2011 researchers at Princeton University proposed that
yawning helps to cool the brain. During the yawn the stretching
motion in the jaw sends blood flowing faster in the head and
the neck, and the deep breath forces spinal fluid and blood
from the brain. The cool air breathed in helps to cool these

What Exactly Is The Type of Leg and Muscle Weakness Caused
by Yawning

Weakness is a lack of strength in your muscles. When your legs
feel weak you feel that you need to make extra effort to move
your legs, and standing becomes difficult because your legs feel
wobbly and unsteady. You may experience weak legs when
adrenaline causes blood to rush to your heart and your brain,
where the body perceives it needs it most, and away from your

The combination of weak legs and yawning is difficult to

We looked at the Top 7 possibilities that can account for leg
weakness while yawning, backed up by recent scientific studies.

Antidepressants May Cause Yawning and Weak Legs

Anecdotally, patients report the feeling of weak legs while
yawning when they have recently started taking certain
such as fluoxetine (Prozac), clonazepan,
clomipramine and citalopram

Antidepressant medication may also result in excessive
yawning, which can put a stress on the body and create muscle
fatigue, particularly in the legs

2007 study from the Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá,
Colombia details the problem of excessive yawning in relation
to drugs such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors and others. In
the study patients’ medication dosage was reduced and the
yawning disappeared.

Weak Legs and Yawning May be a Sign of Motor Neuron

Motor neuron disease, the condition the scientist Stephen
Hawking suffers from, is a serious form of neurodegeneration
where the nerves in the spine and brain lose function. The
condition is very rare but it is characterized by weakness in the
limbs and, in the later stages, by yawning – often
uncontrollable bouts of yawning. It’s possible that a
combination of leg weakness when yawning could be suffered
by someone with motor neuron disease.

Shortage of Potassium May Cause Muscle Weakness and

Potassium is a mineral we naturally find in common foods.
Potassium is important because it works together with sodium
to regulate chemical processes in the body.

Potassium deficiency can cause muscle weakness and fatigue,
resulting in weak legs while yawing. Potassium deficiency is
rare but it often happens when taking diuretic drugs or after
suffering a prolonged bout of diarrhea or vomiting.

Good sources of potassium include potatoes, bananas, orange
juice, cantaloupes, tomatoes, salmon, avocados, and cod.

Foods rich in potassium also help to lower blood pressure.

Anxiety Causes Weak Legs When Yawning

One of the strangest physical responses to anxiety is yawning.

You may wonder why you suffer uncontrollable yawning when
you are anxious, but it is actually fairly straightforward –
anxiety causes hyperventilation, and your body feels like it is
not taking full breaths.

In response, the body makes you yawn in order to expand the
rib cage and send a signal to grab a full breath. When you
yawn while anxious or suffering a
panic attack, your legs may
go weak because adrenaline is rushing blood away from your
legs towards your heart and brain. The strain and stress of
hyperventilation can also make your muscles tired.

The trick is not to stop the yawning, but to control the
hyperventilation. Take slower, calmer breaths. Visualize your
lungs filling with air. A 2004 study from Innothera
Laboratories, France shows that magnesium and hawthorn
together with the herb California poppy helps to control
anxiety and minimize the problem of hyperventilation.

Could Weak Legs and Yawning Be Caused by Anemia?

When you yawn it is often due to fatigue or tiredness. One
cause of fatigue is a lack of iron in the blood. This results in
anemia, which causes muscle weakness and tiredness. If your
legs feel weak when you yawn – and you yawn often – it is
worth getting your iron levels checked.

Iron supplements are useful for lifting fatigue when there is an
iron deficiency, and low levels of iron supplementation may
even be useful for correcting a borderline iron problem,
according to studies like a 2000 report from Cornell University,
New York.

Foods rich in iron include liver and other animal meats and egg
yolks. Plant sources rich in iron include spinach, kale and beans.

Weak Legs When You Yawn Due to a Vasovagal Reaction

A vasovagal reaction is when an involuntary reflex in your
nervous system causes your heart to slow down, reduces your
blood pressure, and diverts blood away from the heart to your
legs. It can cause excessive yawning, and fainting.

A vasovagal reaction may indicate a heart problem so it is
important to get checked if you regularly suffer from weak legs
and yawning. It is also a problem after blood donation,
according to studies such as a 2012 report from the Japanese
Red Cross Tokyo Blood Centre. Minimize the risk by getting a
god night’s sleep the night before giving blood, the researchers

Polymyositis Can Cause Muscle Weakness and Yawning

A relatively rare inflammatory condition, polymyositis is
associated with muscle weakness and difficulty standing,
getting up from a chair, or lifting objects. It also causes
fatigue, which increases the incidence of yawning. There is no
cure for polymyositis but according to the UK’s National Health
Service, physical therapy can help regain muscle strength.


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Yawning that causes weak legs can be caused by potassium