How Bad is Sitting Cross-Legged?

June 02, 2021

woman working on laptop

When we sit, many of us find ourselves crossing our legs. A straightforward rationale for why we do this revolves around seating posture and ease. Many people find that crossing their legs mechanically pulls their upper body back into the backrest of their chair. While this may provide some fleeting relief in their back and enable them to sit up more comfortably, it comes with a cost.

It's a fair assumption that almost all of us sit cross-legged at some point during the day. Some people do a complete Indian sit on their chairs. While sitting or reclining back in their chairs, some people cross one leg over the knee of the other. Some people cross their legs at the ankles and tuck them beneath their chairs, while others spread their legs out. Wouldn't we all be in discomfort from sitting in our seats if these postures were genuinely bad? The truth is that most of us do. Poor posture is the primary source of back pain, neck discomfort, and all of the other musculoskeletal complaints we experience throughout the day.

Is sitting cross-legged bad?

When we sit and do not move, our blood circulation is severely impeded, compromising the delivery of refreshed oxygenated blood and nutrients and the elimination of waste products produced by our human system in very fundamental tasks. Sitting on a non-conforming surface will limit blood flow, sometimes totally, to the region surrounding the tail bone in the world of people with a neurological deficiency where sensation is impaired. The most severe risk here is tissue death, often known as pressure sores. Our tissues will die if we don't have enough oxygen.

● Crossing our legs cuts off the blood flow to our lower limbs effectively, restricting fresh oxygenated blood from reaching this area and limiting venous return. Also, we tilt our pelvis backward, putting greater pressure on our tail bone, resulting in a similar compromise. This position results in a considerably more flexed lumbar spine, which over time leads to an instability of our supportive soft tissues around the spine and rigidity that extends to our other everyday tasks.

● People who sit cross-legged for lengthy periods have poor spinal posture for the majority of the day. This may result in chronic lower back discomfort that extends up to the neck and shoulder blades.

● Sitting cross-legged for a few hours can result in long-term constriction of the peroneal nerve, which lies along the outside of the knee. This can sometimes cause soreness in the foot, resulting in nerve palsy or a foot drop.

Cross-legged sitting on:

High blood pressure

When getting your blood pressure checked, you're typically requested to stand with both feet on the ground. This is because crossing one leg over the other can result in a passing increase in blood pressure. There was a considerable increase in blood pressure when participants crossed their legs at the knee height, but no spike when legs were crossed at the ankle, and a somewhat more significant spike when people crossed their legs by resting their ankle on their knee. While these studies corroborate the concept that crossing your legs can elevate your blood pressure, they showed a transient increase. However, if you already have hypertension, try to avoid crossing your legs for long periods simply to be safe.

Varicose veins

Long durations of standing or sitting may raise your chance of developing varicose veins, but there's no evidence that crossing your legs has this impact. If you're worried about getting varicose veins, consider moving your legs around during the day.

Pregnancy

While you may find yourself sitting in unusual postures as you try to find a comfortable position, none of them will harm you or your baby, including sitting with your legs crossed. Muscle spasms, back pain, and cramps, on the other hand, are all prevalent throughout pregnancy. While crossing your legs will not harm your baby, it may promote ankle swelling or leg cramps. If your ankles or legs are swollen or cramped, try sitting with both feet on the floor or propped on a stool.

Posture

Sitting with your leg over your knee for more extended periods might cause your pelvis to spin and tilt. This can result in lower back pain. It may potentially cause a spinal displacement over time. When you have bad posture, your muscles have to adjust. This means they work harder than necessary, which can result in discomfort and stiffness. However, this does not mean you should discontinue crossing your legs entirely.

What you can do

In this circumstance, using the proper ergonomics setup is critical. When anything about the workstation isn't quite right for the user, it is a tendency for individuals to cross their legs. A significantly too high chair or a chair that is improperly fitted in general tends to correspond with leg-crossing behaviors. While a solid ergonomic setup is part of the solution, any ergonomic intervention should probably focus on the person's routines and behaviors.

STANDING

Standing for a whole shift at work has its own set of issues, which is why alternating between sitting and standing numerous times all through the day. By switching between sitting and standing every hour or two, you can keep your muscles active and freed while still taking full advantage of an ergonomic posture.

The only significant piece of equipment required for this is a standing desk. We recommend a standing desk with an electric motor, such as Esben Standing Desk UD5 by FlexiSpot, because it's simple to click a button and adjust your height to the right level while going to the cafeteria for a snack or drink.

Esben Standing Desk UD5: A clean, basic look that is free of distractions, allowing you to focus on what is essential. The one-of-a-kind design brightens the ambiance and energizes you for the tasks at hand.

● Height adjustable

● Anti-collision system prevents your desk from sustaining material damage.

● Storage shelf: keeps notes, office supplies, and more neatly organized with four spacious hutch compartments for storage.

● 3-step quick install: minimal and straightforward.

In addition to your standing desk, you may also use other items with it to optimize the benefits of switching between sitting and standing:

● under-desk bike (check Sit2Go 2-in-1 Fitness Chair and Under Desk Bike V9U by FlexiSpot

● anti-fatigue mat (see Standing Desk Anti-Fatigue Mat MT1  and Ergonomic Anti Fatigue Mat DM1 by FlexiSpot

● ergonomic stool

SITTING ERGONOMICALLY

We have mentioned that it might be due to some discomfort sitting on why our body urges us to switch to crossing our legs, whether Indian-style or just around our ankles. Therefore, it's best to make yourself extra comfortable and pain-free by using an ergonomic office chair such as the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair. The Soutien provides the best-seated experience behind your desk, with its 3D lumbar support system, 135° lounge tilt, and 4D adjustable armrests. For optimal headrest and lumbar support, the stylishly curved backrest ergonomically fits the back and neck. The adjustable armrests curve seamlessly to your arms and elbows for ultimate comfort, allowing you to relax in ease throughout your work lunch break.

Sitting with a leg crossed will always be a part of everyday ergonomics. We should sit upright on a stable chair, with our feet flat on the floor, knees precisely over our feet, and hips no lower than our knees. Crossing our legs is as much a routine as anything else. When we feel the urge, we should pursue healthy behaviors like going for walks, moving in your active sitting chair or ergonomic office chair, or standing at your standing desk. Sitting with your legs crossed for a few moments won't hurt.

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