Maybe you’ve heard that some studies show that it is bad for you to sit for extended periods. Research reveals sitting for hours at a time increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In fact, because it is so bad for your health some experts are calling sitting “the new smoking.” But, new research shows that cross-legged sitting is particularly damaging.
A clinical instructor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, Dr. Naresh C. Rao says that sitting cross-legged is not a nice ergonomic condition.
Dr. Rao said that he sees many patients with chronic back, hip, and knee pain from sitting for long periods with their legs crossed. Sitting this way as clinical researchers say not only causes orthopedic problems, but it can cause nerve pain, increase your blood pressure, and exacerbate spider or varicose veins.
It also puts your hips in a twisted position. Then this puts pressure on your neck and back. You put more pressure on your spine the longer you sit with your legs crossed. This increases the odds you’ll experience a painful skeletal issue.
Dr. Rao says that it can cause permanent damage if you are sitting cross-legged regularly. And it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s right leg over left leg, or vice-versa.
He recommends sitting with your legs crossed for no longer than about 5-10 minutes as it would take you to drink a cup of coffee.
Health Problems Induced by Sitting Cross-Legged
- Higher Blood Pressure. It was found by several studies that a temporary increase in blood pressure can be a result of crossing your legs. This does not automatically cause heart problems. But doctors say that it could be risky for people prone to blood clots.
- Nerve Pain. Crossing your legs at the knees makes pressure on the peroneal nerve which is located in the back of the knee. This can cause pain or tingling in the feet after sitting this way for a prolonged period. Your body is warning you to change positions with numbness.
Some podiatrists who specialize in nerve pain alert that frequently sitting with your legs crossed for long periods can lead to permanent nerve damage.
- Spider and Varicose Veins. The medical community is divided over if leg crossing causes varicose veins. Dr. Hooman Madyoon specializes in venous diseases and works as a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. So, he says that at the least, sitting cross-legged looks to worsen existing varicose veins. He says that the pressure of one leg sitting on top of the other obstructs blood flow. This can cause rupture of the compromised blood vessels.
What is The Best Way to Sit?
Whether sitting or standing, good posture has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes and prevent back problems. It also improves lung function.
Dr. Rao advises his patients to sit with feet flat on the floor and with legs uncrossed. If you want to sit back, use a footstool to elevate your foot.
He tells to all of his patients who have a desk job to get up at least once every 55 minutes and walk around for 5 minutes.