From the time we were young, women were taught to cross their legs. Men do it merely out of comfort, but they are just as likely to suffer the consequences of this social habit. I recently went from being a full-time trainer (standing and bending all day) to being a full-time web master (and part-time trainer). You can image my surprise when I realized for the first time in my life, what it was REALLY like to have a desk job. I had trained thousands of clients who were desk workers. Now it was my turn to feel the aches and pains of sitting 8 hours a day with a 3-hour commute. Boy, was I in for a surprise! I realized very quickly that the smallest postural distortions in my day had a HUGE impact on my body over time. One of the biggest culprits for decreased circulation, poor posture, and imbalanced muscles was crossing my legs!
In the beginning, I did everything I could to stay at my desk. My nature was to get up and move (like I had done the last 14 years as a trainer). Yes, I actually had to train my body to be sedentary! I allowed myself to do anything to stay comfortable. Unfortunately, this meant crossing my legs. By the end of the day my back was twisted into knocks, I couldn’t feel my right foot very well, and the right side of my hip had been hiked up for so long that I walked with a slight limp. OMG!
“Crossing one leg over the other leads to increased pressure, and if your vein systems are closer to the surface, they will certainly show up more prominently. Spider veins are more common in women than in men because of crossing the legs (source).”
As a trainer, I am able to evaluate my body in an instant. It was clear to see that I needed to stop crossing my legs ASAP. After week 4 of the seated job I had a new prominent broken blood vessel, and my whole right side seemed to be pinched. I started to research if crossing your legs was bad. I found mixed results, which was shocking since I knew first had that my body was reacting negatively. Here are my observations and why everyone should stop crossing your legs immediately!
Why You Should Stop Crossing Your Legs NOW
(my personal observations mixed with research)
1.) Overly tight butt muscles, leading to lower back issues.
* Whichever leg you cross – that hips is actually in a higher position. This tilts your lower back making one side tighter than the other.
Long Term Affects – lower back problems, and butt issues. One side of the butt will be tighter than the other. This means that over time, that side of your but will not be able to contract the way it should.
Overall effect: droopy butt syndrome.
2.) Poor circulation: Afraid of varicose veins, spider veins, and pinched nerves? Then you definitely DON’T want to cross your legs! Research shows that crossing your legs increases your blood pressure!
“According to a study published in the journal of Blood Pressure Monitoring, sitting with your legs crossed at the knee can raise your blood pressure. The study finds leg crossing increased systolic blood pressure nearly 7% and diastolic by 2% (source).”
3.) Tight IT Bands – This is the band that runs from your hip past your knee (on the outside) then connects at your calf (see image below). I noticed that crossing my legs, made my somewhat relaxed IT band into an angry monster. It also became so tight that it threw my knees out of alignment. This aggravated my already sensitive knees causing inflammation and discomfort.
4.) Twisted Back Syndrome. While it may feel comfortable to give you body a little twist, long-term leg crossing can lead to a detrimental curve in the back. This also causes imbalances, pinched nerves and upper back/neck issues as your body fights to maintain somewhat of a normal posture.
Sitting at a desk for hours on end is already horrible for your body. Crossing your legs makes it even worse. Do yourself a favor and use these fitness tips to remind yourself why you should keep both feet planted firmly on the ground.