Crossing your legs is something so many of us do without any thought whatsoever. It can feel almost unnatural or uncomfortable to sit for long without crossing our legs. But is crossing your legs really bad for you?
Well, it’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s not brilliant. We see so many people come into the clinic complaining of back and hip pain. The first thing they do? Sit down and cross their legs!
So what’s wrong with it then?
It may feel so right after years of sitting like it, but what it’s doing is:
Increasing your chance of Pelvic Imbalance
Shortening your inner thigh muscle, and lengthening your outer thigh muscle – resulting in pelvic imbalance. This puts your joints at risk of moving out of place.
Increasing your chance of developing Spider Veins
The habit of sitting with your legs crossed makes it more likely that you’ll develop spider veins. This is because having your legs crossed increases the pressure on your veins and impedes blood flow. The vessels then weaken and narrow and allow blood to flow back in. Blood can then pool in the legs and your veins swell.
Damaging your nerves
If you stay in your crossed legged position for a long time, you can damage the nerves in your legs. You can also increase your blood pressure (even if this isn’t usually a problem for you). This is because a greater volume of blood is pumped into your heart.
Staying in your crossed legged position for several hours, can even lead to a condition called peroneal nerve palsy. Palsy causes reduced muscle strength. It makes it much more difficult to lift your foot, twist your ankle and wiggle your toes.
Developing a stooped posture
Finally, studies should that sitting with your legs crossed for longer than three hours per day is extremely bad for you. It can result in you developing a stooped posture and result in lower back and hip pain.
What to do about it?
If you automatically cross your legs (I do. I’ve done it about 20 times just writing this article. Even when I realise I’m doing it and uncross them, I find I’m crossing them again 5 seconds later!) then there are a couple of options.
- You can tie something around your legs, just about your knees. This should give a physical reminder when you do it.
- You can also ask those around you to point out when you’re doing it. It might be annoying in the short term but hopefully it will prompt you to change your habit!
Remember, if you have back or hip pain, please come and talk to us. If it is a result of your sitting habits, we can help you understand the mechanics of what’s going on. We can also help to realign your pelvic imbalance.