Is crossing your legs bad for you?

Image ref: SPL

Did you know that your sitting preference may affect your posture?

Think again. How do you like to sit on a chair?

Many people prefer to sink deep in the chair, rest their backs like no one is watching, others sit with their knees wide apart while the people either side of them are squashed – they call this manspreading. Many others are most comfortable sitting with one leg crossed over the other.

Let’s focus on crossing the legs for a bit. There are different reasons people do that although most times it is unconscious. Some say crossing their legs help improve the mechanics of the lower back and take the strain off. But more than just in the name of boosting comfort, crossing of the legs is a learned behaviour.

Does it hurt you in the long run?

The list of suggested consequences of spending too much time with one knee crossed over the other deserves close examination.

Legs crossed for longer periods:

It is true that if you spend too much time in exactly the same position, your leg or your foot can go numb and give you pins and needles. This is because crossing the legs puts pressure on the peroneal nerve behind the knee, which supplies sensation to the lower legs and feet. But a study from South Korea conducted on a series of patients’ in order to identify the chief causes of such effects found out that sitting on a chair with one knee over the other didn’t feature while sitting cross-legged on the floor for hours at a time did. So, in reality long term numbness is an unlikely consequence of leg-crossing because as soon as one feels uncomfortable the person can easily switch position.

During Pregnancy:

Image ref: Baby Centre

During pregnancy, the body goes through a variety of physical changes – your uterus stretches, your centre of gravity shifts forward and you may find yourself walking, standing, and sitting differently than you usually do. While you might find yourself sitting in new positions as you find better was to be comfortable, none of them will hurt you or your baby. Muscles strains, backaches, and cramps are all common during pregnancy. So, while sitting with your legs crossed won’t hurt your baby, it may contribute to ankle swelling or leg cramps. If you find your ankles swelling or your legs cramping, try sitting with both feet on the floor or elevated on a stool.

So how about blood pressure?

Image ref: Cleaveland Clinic

Usually, medical experts usually ask patients to rest their arms on the chair or table and to uncross their legs, putting their feet flat on the floor. The notion is that crossed legs might skew the reading by temporarily raising your blood pressure. Researchers at Istanbul took several readings with legs crossed and uncrossed. From the result, blood pressures were higher when legs were crossed, but crucially when the measurements were repeated just three minutes after uncrossing the legs, blood pressure were back to the earlier levels. Two possible causes have been proposed to explain why leg-crossing might lead to a temporary rise in blood pressure. The first is that the action alone of putting one knee over the other sends blood from the legs up to the chest resulting in an increased quantity of blood being pumped out of the heart, causing a rise in blood pressure. The alternative explanation is that blood pressure rises because isometric exercise of the leg muscles – one without the joints moving – increases the resistance to the blood passing through the vessels.

Varicose Veins:

Image ref: Womens’ Health

For a long time, rumours have circulated that crossing your legs can cause varicose veins. Let’s clear that up. Varicose veins are those bulging, twisting, cord-like veins that pop out of your legs. While they’re often blue, especially for lighter-skinned people, they can also be red or flesh-coloured. They’re usually found on the thighs, backs of the calves, and inner leg.

According to Heathline, anyone can get varicose veins, but they tend to be more common in older women and pregnant women. Varicose veins form because of a problem with the valves in your veins, which work very hard to pump blood up toward the heart. As the blood moves upward, one-way valves open and close, preventing blood from leaking back down.

When these valves are weakened or damaged, however, the force of gravity pulls blood back down. This is known as venous insufficiency. Veins become varicose when that blood gets backed up, collects, and causes bulging.

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re standing and sitting for very long periods of time. If you’re concerned about developing varicose veins, try to change the position of your legs throughout the day.

Poor posture:

Image ref: Brisbane Natural Health

This is one possible side effect that’s often ignored.

Sitting for long periods of time with your leg over your knee can result in your pelvis rotating and tilting. This can cause pain in the lower back and could also lead to a misalignment of your spine over time. When you have improper posture, your muscles are forced to compensate which means they work harder then they need to, which can lead to pain and stiffness.

Here’s the bottom line; sitting with your legs crossed has not been known to cause any medical emergency. However, it can temporarily cause an increase in your blood pressure and lead to poor posture. So, for optimum health, try to avoid sitting in any one position for a long time, whether you cross your legs or not. We would love to have your feedback on this article. Do share with us in the comment section.

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