Can Crossing Your Legs Have a Negative Impact On Your Health?

Can Crossing Your Legs Have a Negative Impact On Your Health? Sitting with your legs crossed, like many seated positions, comes naturally as many of us resort to this position without even thinking about it. Despite how innocent or inconsequential this may seem, there is speculation that crossing your legs too often can lead to chronic pain and may actually be bad for your health. So, does this argument have legs?

What We Know

There is a claim out there that sitting with crossed legs causes high blood pressure. The reason being that the blood in your legs has to work against gravity in order to be pumped back to your heart.

While there is some truth to this, as a general rule, you probably shouldn’t sit in any position for more than 15 minutes at a time anyway. Take breaks and get up to walk around at least once an hour or if your legs fall asleep, change positions.

The real danger is sitting in this cross legged position so often that it results in a stooped posture, causing pains in the low back, neck, or hips. Aches and pains of these types can actually increase your chance of further, more serious injuries. Crossing your legs for too long can create muscle imbalances in the low back and hips which can cause your body to naturally shift to one side.

Too much of an imbalance can make the hip flexors and inner thigh muscles shorter while lengthening the muscle in the outer thigh. This increases the risk of joint stiffness and dysfunction as it causes your pelvis to roll backward and “unstack” your spine. You end up favoring one side over the other (the side in which the leg is crossed over).

It’s no good to have tight muscles on one side and on the other, overstretched and weak muscles but this also may only occur in extreme scenarios. Crossing your legs won’t necessarily mean you’ll need to seek back injury treatment, but it sure doesn’t hurt to be aware of all of this.

If you are worried and you want to make a change, it can be difficult to break the habit because most of the time, we fall into these positions without even thinking about them. If you have concerns about making your posture worse or keeping your blood pressure normal or not developing varicose veins, a simple fix is just to cross your legs down at the ankles to allow your spine to be in a position that’s more neutral. Physical therapy specialists can also help individuals who experience any associated pains by working with them to break the habit of crossing their legs and pinpointing any muscle imbalances.

So, Are We Pulling Your Leg?

In all honesty, crossing your legs is a common position among people and posture is meant to be dynamic (in that, there is no “perfect” posture).

Changing positions occasionally and crossing the opposite leg can be an easy option to provide a similar stimulus to the opposite hip. It would take a pretty extreme instance of leg crossing to do any serious damage. By “extreme,” we mean that you would need to spend 8 hours per day at work in the EXACT same posture, day after day after day. This would lead to skeletal and muscular adaptations over time that could place increased stress on particular structures, depending on the position.

The good news is that most of us are stimulated frequently enough to move and change posture (and if you’re not, you should be!) and there are also great resources out there with helpful posture exercises. If you sit at a desk all day, take regular breaks (like once an hour) to make sure your body doesn’t get stuck in one position for too long. Movement matters!


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Can Crossing Your Legs Have a Negative Impact On Your Health?

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