Why you should never cross your legs

Crossing your at the knee is a very common pose people adopt when sitting down; many of us do it automatically. This position is elegant and sexy, and often associated with being ’’feminine’’ and ’’ladylike.’’ We’ve gotten used to crossing our legs without thinking, but not too many of us know that it can have some serious consequences for our health and bodies.

crossedd legs

Although this woman for many people probably looks attractive thanks to the way she’s sitting here, this is what can happen to your body if you spend too much time with one knee crossed over the other:

  • Maintaining a particular posture for hours can lead to a condition called peroneal nerve paralysis or palsy. This can also happen if you sit in the same position for prolonged periods of time. It turns out that the position that is most likely to cause the peroneal nerve palsy is the cross-legged position.
  • In 2010, various studies proved that when you sit for a long time with your legs crossed, the blood pressure in your body increases. Even if you don’t have any problems with your blood pressure, avoiding sitting in this position can help you live a healthier life and prevent further circulatory disorders.
crossed legs

One of the reasons for this is that when you put one knee over the other, it sends blood from the legs up to the chest, resulting in a larger quantity of blood being pumped out of the heart, which in turn increases your blood pressure. Another possible explanation is that blood pressure rises because isometric exercise of the leg muscles (exercise when your joints don’t move and muscles don’t change in length) increases the resistance to the blood flow. That is why crossing your legs at the ankles doesn’t have the same effect as when you cross one leg over the other.

cross legs
  • This position can also lead to pelvic imbalance. Prolonged leg-crossing eventually makes the inner thigh muscle shorter and the outer thigh muscle longer, and puts your joints at risk of moving out of place.
  • The habit of sitting with your legs crossed increases your chances of developing ’spider veins’. Although the biggest contributing factor to varicose veins is your genes, frequent crossing of the legs can lead to inflammation of the compressed veins. There are tiny valves in the blood vessels, that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. When your legs are crossed, the pressure on your veins increases and impedes your blood flow, causing the vessels to narrow and weaken and allowing the back flow of blood. This can cause pooling of blood in the legs and make your veins swell.

Finally, a study found that sitting with the legs crossed for longer than three hours per day may result in a person developing a stooped posture, lower back and neck pains, and discomfort in their hips.

crossed legs

Now that we provided you with some food for thought, you might consider ditching the habit entirely, to avoid the short and long-term health risks and just make sure you uncross your legs next time you catch yourself doing so!

cross1#1: Nerve Damage

Sitting cross-legged on the bus for an hour isn’t going to do permanent damage. Sitting cross-legged at your desk for hours every day might.

nerve1When you compress your legs, you are putting pressure on all the nerves, tissues, and blood vessels at the spot where they meet.

#2: Elevated Blood Pressure

When you cross your legs, you are temporarily compressing the big blood vessels in your lower extremities, forcing blood to flow more slowly throughout these areas.

Ultimately, the slowdown of blood flow leads to a temporary spike in blood pressure —

bp part of your circulatory system is cut off, meaning the blood backs up and presses harder again the other vessels.

This jump in BP isn’t dangerous in a young healthy person, but has the potential to cause serious harm and heart trouble in someone who already has elevated blood pressure.

#3: Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a condition where a blood clot forms far inside the muscle of an extremity, often the lower leg.

This painful and dangerous condition is much more likely to happen if you are sedentary for long periods of time, particularly if your blood flow is restricted by, say, crossing your legs.

thrombosis

Sluggish blood can build up into a life-threatening clot from the pressure, particularly in individuals who already have risk factors like smokers and pregnant women.

#4: Damages Posture

Sitting with your legs crossed causes a ripple effect that extends up your back and neck.

When you cross your legs, you make a smaller and less stable base to sit on, because you’re perching your buttocks unevenly. Your body overcompensates by hunching over to maintain balance.

Over time, this habit can lead to persistent bad posture, and difficulty straightening up and standing tall.

#5: Back Pain

Crossing your legs is actually bad for your whole spinal column.

That’s because crossing your legs tweaks your entire pelvis up on one side, which crooks the spine in an unnatural position.

backpainHabitually sitting with crossed legs can damage your spine over time, particularly if you skew strongly to one side every single time.

Pain that starts in the low back can radiate up to the neck, or out, causing sciatic pain in the legs and arms.

#6: Spider Veins

Spider veins and varicose veins are unsightly lumpy bluish veins that show through the skin.

They can be painful, but are more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one.

Sitting or standing still in one position for long hours can put pressure on the blood vessels until they begin to bulge over time.

The same is true of crossing your legs, which traps blood in the lower legs and creates pressure.

If you always cross your legs the same way, you might notice them in one leg first.

What Do I Do?

rightpostureSo how do you break the bad habit and quit crossing your legs?

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to stop entirely; you can wean yourself off the habit.

Try setting a timer for yourself every fifteen minutes to remind yourself to take a five-minute break to change position, and work your way up from there until it feels more comfy to sit with your legs uncrossed all the time.

Meanwhile, if you do notice any of the medical symptoms listed above, consult a doctor and get treatment immediately.

Do you cross your legs?

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