Why sitting cross-legged could be bad for you

(Conversation) – Are you comfortable? Just stop for a moment and notice your posture without adjusting. What are your legs doing? Are they crossed? And are you a right or left crosser? Some 62% of people they pass right over left, 26% go the other way, and 12% have no preference.

There are usually two ways to sit in a chair and cross your legs, one is at the knee and the other is at the ankle. But as comfortable as sitting cross-legged is, is it bad for your health and posture? Let’s look at the evidence.

For starters, research shows that sitting cross-legged can increase hip misalignmentwith one being taller than the other.

And that it changes speed in which blood moves through blood vessels in the lower limbs, which can increase the risk of blood clots.

Most research suggests that crossing the knees is worse than crossing the ankles. Indeed, sitting this way can cause your blood pressure to increase due to pooling of blood in your veins and your heart having to work against it. And that can increase the risk of damage to your blood vessels, which is why when your blood pressure is taken, you should have it feet flat on the floor.

Effect on the organism

The longer and more often you sit cross-legged, the more likely you are to have long-term changes in the length of the muscles and the arrangement of the bones in your pelvis. And because of the way your skeleton is connected, crossing your legs can also cause your spine and shoulders to misalign.

Your head position can potentially be out of alignment due to changes in the neck bonesas the spine compensates to keep the center of gravity above the pelvis.

Your neck can also be affected because one side of your body is weaker than the other. The same imbalance can be seen in the pelvic and lower back muscles as a result of poor posture and the stress and strain caused by sitting cross-legged.

The pelvis can also be misaligned due to prolonged stretching of the gluteal (bum) muscles on one side, which means they become weaker.

Sitting cross-legged for long periods of time increases the likelihood of scoliosis (abnormal alignment of the spine) and other deformities. It can also cause greater trochanteric pain syndromea common and painful condition affecting the outer hip and thigh.

Research also shows that sitting cross-legged can put the peroneal nerve, also known as the fibular nerve in the lower leg, at risk. compressions and injuries. This usually manifests as weakness when trying to lift the side of the little toe as well as more regarding foot drop – where the whole foot is hanging down. Although in most cases it is short-lived and returns to normal in a few minutes.

There is also evidence that crossing your legs can affect sperm production. This is because the temperature of the testicles must be in between 2°C and 6°C below standard body temperature. Sitting increases testicular temperature by 2°C, and crossing your legs can increase testicular temperature by as much 3.5°C. I studies suggest yes an an increase in the temperature of the scrotum or testicles can reduce both the number and quality of sperm.

It is also worth noting that due to differences in anatomy men and women it’s probably much easier for women to sit cross-legged – especially since men have reduced range of motion on the hip.

Legs and joints

But research shows that sitting cross-legged can be beneficial for some people. One small study from 2016, for example, found that for people who have one leg longer than the othersitting cross-legged can help adjust the height of the two sides of the pelvis, improving alignment.

Sitting cross-legged seems to too reduce activity some muscles, especially the obliques (the ones under the skin where you put your hands on your hips) compared to sitting with your feet forward. This can help you relax your core muscles and prevent overexertion.

Similarly, there is evidence of sitting cross-legged improves stability of the sacroiliac joints (responsible for weight transfer between the spine and legs).

And of course, the famous yoga or meditation pose (the lotus position) sees people sitting cross-legged on the floor. Although there is limited data on whether long periods of time spent in this position can lead to some of the problems caused by sitting cross-legged in a chair. Indeed, for many people yoga offers tremendous benefits – even those who already have problems with their knees.

So the verdict? It’s probably better to avoid crossing your legs if you can. That being said, many of the risk factors associated with crossed legs are likely to be exacerbated by other underlying problems such as sedentary lifestyles and obesity. So, with this in mind, the main advice is not to sit still in the same position for too long and to be active regularly.

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