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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 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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