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4 Reasons Why Crossing Your Legs Is Bad For You

4 Reasons Why Crossing Your Legs Is Bad For You

If you cross your legs, you are keeping them tidy and not taking up too much room. The other extreme is if you are male, you may be caught “man spreading.” This is where you spread your legs and take up about 3 seats on public transport. You can watch this video where 1,400 men in New York received citations for man spreading and two were arrested. Crossing your legs on the metro may stop you getting a fine!

But is crossing your legs actually bad for you? It depends on a lot of factors, the main ones being how long and how often you actually do it. This is what the research has found.

1. It may temporarily raise your blood pressure

Various small scale studies have been done on this. Most studies confirm that this habit does put up your blood pressure, but only temporarily. Crossing your legs is not going to cause high blood pressure. According to one study, crossing your legs can increase systolic BP by 7% and diastolic by 2%. The researchers noticed that crossing the ankles made no difference whatsoever in the BP readings.

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2. It may cause back and neck pain

According to one physical therapist, Vivian Eisenstadt, you are liable to have increased back and neck pain if you cross your legs frequently. She maintains that the hips are slightly twisted when in this position and can cause imbalances in the pelvis. This will put pressure on the spine and that is likely to lead to back pain and even neck pain later on.

“Days and weeks of doing this (leg crossing) are one of the main reasons we have back and neck pain, as well as herniated discs.” – Dr. Vivian Eisenstadt

3. It may be linked to spider and varicose veins

Almost half the US population have spider veins (55% of women and 45% of men) according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Is there a link between these veins and keeping your legs crossed? Some experts believe that genetics, sun exposure and long periods of standing are mainly to blame. However, others believe crossing legs can be a factor. Dr. Hooman Madyoon, a cardiologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center explains how this happens:

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“Crossing your legs increases the pressure on your veins that are responsible for returning blood back to your heart. The pressure of one leg on top of the other impedes your blood flow, which can weaken or damage the veins in your legs. If the veins are damaged or weakened, the blood can leak into them and collect there, causing spider veins or exacerbating existing ones.” – Dr. Madyoon

4. It can cause nerve damage

As we know, the sciatic nerve is the largest in the human body and stretches form the lower back right down to our feet. One branch of the sciatic nerve is the peroneal nerve. Any pressure on this such as leg crossing can cause numbness and tingling and over time may actually damage the nerve. This damage can result in long-term numbness and foot drop, according to the Mayo Clinic.

How to break this habit

Here are some suggestions for you to follow if you find that you are keeping legs crossed for too long and too often. Try to avoid it for longer than ten or fifteen minutes. Every half hour, you should get up and walk around, if working conditions allow for that. Try to get a decent chair which gives you adequate support for your lower back and also make a conscious effort to keep both feet on the floor, with knees and hips as close to ninety degrees as possible.

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“The best advice is always not to sit with your legs crossed.”- Dr. Richard Graves, podiatrist

Last, but not least, your leg crossing is sending the wrong message when you are in meetings and networking. If you cross your legs tightly, it presents a rather unwelcoming and closed view of yourself as if you are trying to build a mini fortress around yourself. Body language is often sending more information than what we are actually saying.

“Our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us.” – Amy Cuddy

Featured photo credit: Crossing your legs on public transport/Sigurd Magnusson via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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