Is it unhealthy to cross your legs? Yes, warn experts!

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Crossing your legs is part of sitting comfortably for many. But according to studies, it has health consequences.

If you’re sitting up straight, observe if your legs are crossed. Are your legs crossed at the knees or ankle? If so, you’re among many who perceive this posture as comfortable. But unfortunately, relaxing is not necessarily good for your health, as studies have shown.

Crossing your legs: Health effects
In a 2019 study published in the Journal of the Korean Society of Physical Medicine, the research team found that crossed legs put unilateral strain on the neck muscles. In addition, the pelvis tilts, the alignment of the spine changes and the intervertebral discs are strained as a result.

Stress on intervertebral discs and spine
This is also confirmed by orthopedist Reinhard Schneiderhan, president of the German Spine League, as “Focus” reports. Anyone crossing their legs for over half an hour promotes one-sided strain on the spine. In the back, a countermovement to the tilted pelvis develops, which hurts intervertebral discs and vertebrae, explains Schneiderhan. Persistent back pain, a tilted pelvis or a deformation of the spine, known in specialist circles as scoliosis, can be the result.

Blood pressure increase & risk of thrombosis
Another study shows that blood pressure can rise sharply if you cross your legs at the knees. Although this is only of short duration and usually not a danger for a healthy person, people with elevated blood pressure are advised not to adopt this sitting position for longer. Moreover, obstructing blood flow in susceptible individuals increases the risk of thrombosis, as “BBC” reports.

“Leg asleep”
The typical tingling in the legs, also known as “fallen asleep leg,” can be another effect of the popular sitting position, according to “Focus.” The reason for this is a pinched nerve. The “peroneal nerve,” which runs through the back of the knee, can be pinched off when the legs are rolled over so that the nerve stimulus is no longer transmitted to the nerve pathways. The result is a feeling of numbness, which is perceived as an unpleasant tingling sensation in the legs.

Varicose veins caused by crossing the legs?
Sven Hause, internal medicine and cardiology specialist at the Beta Klinik in Bonn explains that varicose veins are primarily due to genetics. They cannot be caused solely by the frequent crossing of the legs. Nevertheless, the physician emphasizes that this posture is not conducive to good health. The pressure compresses the inner walls of the blood vessels and the veins in the back of the knee, preventing the blood from flowing normally.

So if you have varicose veins or a family history of them, you should take extra care to avoid tying your legs in knots or to do so only infrequently.

Crossing your legs – an overview of the possible effects:
Blood pressure rises briefly
The one-sided strain on the neck muscles
The strain on the intervertebral discs and spine
Pelvic tilt
Back pain
Increased risk of thrombosis
Pinched nerve

Conclusion
First and foremost, people with a history of back problems and those with a risk group should reduce the overturning of the legs to a minimum. If one is healthy, one can take this sitting position in principle already occasionally. “When sitting, the most important thing is to change position frequently,” explains orthopedist Schneiderhan.

It’s best to alternate the leg on top when you cross your legs, change your sitting position every thirty minutes at the latest, straighten up your body again and again in between, and get up and move around regularly. “The best way to sit, however, is still not to sit,” says Schneiderhan, adding, “It’s just not practical.”

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