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5 Health Risks of Sitting With Your Legs Crossed, Experts Say

This position can actually lead to several different long-term problems.

If you're sitting down while reading this, take a second to look at how you're sitting. Are your legs crossed? If so, you may want to change your position. Sandra Gail Frayna, a physical therapist and founder of Hudson Premier Physical Therapy & Sports, tells Best Life that sitting with both feet touching the ground and your knees close together is best for your body.

Can't quite break the habit of crossing your legs? Frayna recommends that you at least limit your leg-crossing to no more than 15 minutes at a time. That's because sitting this way can actually lead to many different long-term issues. Read on to find out which five health risks you may face from constantly sitting with your legs crossed.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Biggest Health Risks of Sitting All Day, Doctors Say.


Man getting his blood pressure taken.
FatCamera / iStock

Crossing your legs can cause your blood pressure to increase temporarily, according to Sean Ormond, MD, a board-certified physician in anesthesiology and interventional pain management. As Ormond explains, this may occur because having your legs crossed for long period can restrict blood flow.

"When you cross your legs, the blood has to pass through a smaller channel and the veins can become compressed, making it harder for blood to return to your heart," he explains.

Blood clots


Restricted blood flow can result in more issues than just hypertension, however. It could also be raising your risk of blood clots, according to Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician working as a health expert for Invigor Medical. "Muscle contractions help move blood through the venous circulation," Poston says. "Sitting still, especially in a restricting position, can slow blood flow, increasing the risk for clots."

Chronic pain

woman waking up in bed with back pain
Opat Suvi / Shutterstock

Even if you make sure to always sit up straight, you can still develop posture problems if your legs are constantly crossed. "The imbalanced position can strain the muscles and ligaments in the spine, causing discomfort or chronic pain over time," Ormond explains. This can cause you to develop back, neck, and shoulder pain, according to the board-certified physician.

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Hip problems

Hip pain of senior woman at home, healthcare problem of senior concept

You may also start experiencing hip pain if you constantly sit with crossed legs—particularly if you cross them at the knee. According to Ormond, this position can put pressure on your hip joints. "If done excessively, it could contribute to certain orthopedic conditions, like hip pain or hip dysplasia, especially in people with pre-existing conditions," he warns.


Woman Holding Swollen Leg

In the worst-case scenario, sitting with your legs crossed could put you at risk of losing the ability to move your legs at all. As Jared Heathman, MD, a board-certified physician based in Houston, explains, something called "crossed leg palsy" can happen when you sit this way for long periods of time. "This occurs when pressure is maintained on a nerve for long enough to cause paralysis of that nerve," he explains.

Fortunately, crossed leg palsy is "often temporary," according to Heathman. But still, "symptoms can persist for various lengths of time," he warns. "The duration of crossed legs to cause this is likely variable from person to person. The positioning and amount of pressure on the nerve are likely contributing variables."

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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