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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

More by this author

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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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