Tuesday 20 March 2018

Is crossing your legs ruining your circulation?

Freya Drohan

Freya Drohan

Scary headline of the day - can your habit of crossing your legs lead to varicose veins, back pain, high blood pressure and poor circulation?

According to international studies, almost 40 percent of women have a habit of sitting with their legs folded.

Opinions on whether this is actually bad for your health, or not, are divided. However, there is sufficient research to suggest that you would be far better off sitting with your feet flat on the floor to be on the safe side.

Experts are fairly united in the belief that sitting with legs crossed can negatively affect your posture and blood pressure.

When you sit with both feet placed on the ground, your spine rests squarely on your pelvis. When you place one leg on top of the other, you are putting increased pressure on your hip which throws your spine of balance.

Chiropractor and author of ‘This Spine of Mine’ Dr Sheila Callaghan believes that this can result in pain in the lower back, pelvic, hip and knee.

Girls' Night Out
Girls' Night Out

“By shifting the position of the hips, pelvis and spine, crossing your legs shortens the muscles on one side of your lower back,” she says. “If left in this position, these muscles become chronically shortened, and can lead to a great deal of back pain and spasm.”

According to a study published in Blood Pressure Monitoring, crossing your legs at the knee can bump up blood pressure as it causes pooling of blood in the legs when the veins are compressed.

Cardiologist Stephen Sinatra thinks that this could predispose you to inflammation of the veins of the lower legs and possibly a blood clot. His advice? Avoid crossing your legs for longer than ten minutes and get up for a brief walk at least once an hour.

Sitting with your legs crossed has also been linked to the likelihood of varicose and spider veins.

Varicose veins are the visible, blue-hued ones running beneath your skin that are prominent on the legs and feet. The surrounded capillaries are known as spider veins.

The New York Times suggests that more than 12 large studies that have looked at the risk factors for varicose veins have not found leg-crossing to be one of them.

Instead, the paper suggested that standing for more than eight hours a day increased the risk, as well as being pregnant.

When it comes to varicose veins, genetics and obesity will also play a role in the likelihood of you having varicose veins.

To conclude, it seems that sitting with your legs crossed can affect your pressure and posture but there is little evidence to support the claim that it causes unsightly, bulging veins,although sitting with crossed legs can aggravate ones that you already have.

The problem seems to be caused by sitting for extended periods of time and a sedentary lifestyle, so to combat the problems, get up and get moving.

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