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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

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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