Can Crossing Your Legs Lead to Back Pain?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 23, 2014

legs crossedCrossing your legs seems like a perfectly harmless act. Everyone does it (usually on a daily basis), and most people don’t even think twice about it. Although there are no immediately recognizable negative effects of crossing your legs, other than a brief tingling sensation in your foot, it can lead to some unseen consequences when it comes to your back and spine. Read on to learn more about how leg crossing can impact your back.

The Effects of Leg Crossing

There are several different ways to cross your legs, the most common of which include:

  • Crossing your feet at the ankles.
  • Crossing one knee over the other.
  • Crossing one ankle over the other knee.

Many people have heard that crossing your legs can lead to the development of varicose veins, or increased blood pressure and heart problems. These are not necessarily true – more research still needs to be done before these claims can be made conclusively. The more concerning impact of leg crossing involves the spine.

Crossing one leg over the other, rather than sitting with both feet flat on the ground, brings one side of the back above the other side. This is not the worst habit, unless you are doing it for hours at a time every day (perhaps while sitting at your desk during work). Keeping your legs and back in this position for long periods of time can potentially lead to low back pain. The bigger, underlying issue here is the sitting itself. Staying seated all day, as many people do for 40 hours a week at work, can hugely contribute to back pain, especially if your chair and desk are not ergonomic.

So, Should I Stop Crossing my Legs Completely?

Crossing your legs can be incredibly comfortable – that’s why many people do it on a regular basis. So should you completely cut leg crossing out of your routine? Truth be told, crossing your legs once in a while or for short periods of time probably will not hurt your back that much. But keeping your legs crossed for lengthy periods of time, and simply sitting down for long periods of time, can lead to the development of lower back pain.

So cut out the sitting from your routine as much as possible. Get up from your desk and walk to the water cooler once every hour. Better yet, invest in a stand up desk if your office allows it. Whatever you can do to keep your body active and avoid long periods of sitting (with or without crossed legs) will ultimately benefit your spine health and reduce back pain.

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