4 Reasons to Avoid Crossing Your Legs

4 Reasons to Avoid Crossing Your Legs

21st Mar 2023

Sitting with our legs crossed is a common way to sit. Whether it is at the office, on public transportation, or relaxing at home, many people’s go-to posture is one leg over the other, crossed at the knee. However, there are some negative effects of sitting in this position for too long.

Here are four reasons why some researchers suggest not crossing your legs.

#1) Contributes to Neck and Back Pain

No one wants to contribute to their back pain, especially when it can be avoided by something as simple as the way they sit. Vivian Eisenstadt, an orthopedic physical therapist, explains how sitting with your legs crossed can lead to neck and back pain. She says that sitting this way leaves your hips uneven and forces your pelvis bone to rotate. The pelvic bone is the base of support for the spine; if it is left unstable, it can produce unnecessary pressure on the neck and the lower/middle sections of the back. The longer you sit in this uneven position, the more pressure is placed on your spine, increasing the likelihood for it to develop into a long-term issue.

#2) Negatively Affects Posture

Studies have found that if you sit cross-legged, you are more likely to slouch. If you slouch, you are less likely to walk the recommended way: with open shoulders and an aligned spine. We may not think about it, but studies have found that poor posture increases pain in our joints, slows down digestion, affects our circulation, and even adds to our stress levels. A Harvard study revealed that those who practice proper posture show a 25% decrease in cortisol levels!

#3) Negatively Affects Your Nerves

While it is unlikely to cause permanent nerve damage from sitting with your legs crossed, the position has a direct effect on the nerve behind the knee. The peroneal nerve is a part of our sciatic nerve. Many people who suffer from back issues are familiar with the term “sciatica,” which is classified as a consistent pain down one side of the buttocks and leg, and which worsens upon sitting. Sciatica, in particular, often contributes to foot numbness and walking problems.

While sitting cross-legged is not a known cause for sciatica, it can cause extra pressure on your sciatic nerve, possibly affecting the integrity of the vein.

#4) Temporarily Increases Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Monitoring published a study stating that sitting with your legs crossed at the knee increases diastolic blood pressure by 2% and systolic by 7%! While this increase in blood pressure is temporary, it is still concerning to anyone dealing with high blood pressure. To avoid this effect on your blood pressure, experts recommend limiting the amount of time sitting with crossed-legs.

3 Tips to Break the Habit

If sitting cross-legged is a regular practice for you, it may take a while to avoid this position. Remember, most of these side effects do not translate to long-term issues. You have time to change your habit without causing harm to your body.

Breaking the habit of sitting with your legs crossed at the knee may take time, but if you start slow and stay consistent, you will notice an improvement.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

#1) Focus on Balance

For optimal health, researchers recommend sitting with your knees and ankles at 90-degree angles and keeping your pelvis balanced as much as possible.

#2) Interval Posture Training

Break up your time of sitting with cross-legs into 15-30 minute intervals and allow yourself to stretch periodically to offset the posture.

#3) Make Time for Evaluation

Have an alarm set to go off every 30 minutes to 1 hour and when it rings, evaluate how you are sitting and make any adjustments to correct your posture. You can also use this time to do some leg stretches.

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