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Ladies: It’s Time to Stop Crossing Your Legs

April 23, 2015

Ladies, I’m here to tell you something that is contrary to everything you were taught growing up: It’s time to stop crossing your legs.

Before you rush to consult your copy of Emily Post’s famous tome, Etiquette, consider this: Crossing your legs is bad for your health.

It’s true. Over time, crossing your legs can cause alignment issues and increase your chance for developing spider veins, not to mention that it’s bad for your blood pressure and circulation.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “But Lori, it’s second nature to me. I cross my legs without even thinking about it.”

I’m with you there. From very early on, many of us were taught to “sit like a lady”. This behavior has long been a standard of etiquette in the United States, and over time, it has become a force of habit for many of us. But it’s time to start thinking about the way you sit and prioritizing your health over what’s considered “proper”.

Here are a few ways that crossing your legs is detrimental to your health:

It Throws Your Spine Out of Whack

Your hips become uneven when you cross your legs, which throws off your spinal alignment. Your spine is connected to various muscles, nerves and ligaments that connect to other areas of your body. Since your spine reaches up to your neck, it can cause pain and stiffness all the way up to your shoulders if you don’t keep it straight.

It Could Cause Spider Veins

Aside from misaligning your spine, crossing your legs also could cause spider veins. Putting one leg over the other increases the pressure on the tiny blood vessels just beneath your skin, causing blood to back up. Over time, this can cause an unsightly discoloration known as spider veins. It can also worsen the appearance of any spider veins you already may have.

It’s Not Good for Your Circulation

Crossing your legs also causes unnecessary pressure that affects your circulation. When you sit, your legs fight gravity to keep blood flowing as it normally should. But crossing your legs makes it even more challenging for blood to circulate to different areas of the body, causing vein inflammation and potentially putting you at greater risk for a blood clot. In extreme cases, it could even contribute to a dangerous condition called deep vein thrombosis. On top of that, your nerves are right behind your knees, so when you sit with your legs crossed you put more pressure on your nerves. It’s why you are numb after you sit for long periods, especially with your legs crossed.

It Increases Your Blood Pressure

Crossing your legs also elevates your blood pressure. A study in the Journal of Blood Pressure Monitoring showed that sitting with your legs crossed at the knee could raise your blood pressure significantly. It increased diastolic blood pressure (which measures the pressure between heartbeats) and systolic blood pressure (which measures pressure in the arteries when your heart beats) by 2 and 7 percent, respectively.

Many of us sit at an office desk all day and cross our legs without even thinking about it. But you should slowly start to break this habit. Avoid keeping your legs crossed for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Get up and walk around or just stand up and stretch if you’ve been sitting for more than 30 minutes. We’ve all been taught that keeping your legs crossed is the ladylike and appropriate thing to do. But when you consider thee health risks, breaking this rule of etiquette is a smart decision.

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