How Safe is Cross-Legged Sitting

Sitting cross-legged is a common habit especially among women. It is often seen as fashionable to actually take on this sitting position.

As claims from certain studies have shown that this sitting position is harmful, more studies have emerged to counter these claims. However, these researchers are fairly united in the belief that sitting, especially for extended period of time, could have negative impact on your health.

1. Rise in blood pressure

Sitting cross-legged could increase your blood pressure. This is because the crossed legs push more blood up to the heart. This assertion was supported by a study carried out in 2007 at Radboud University in the Netherlands.

The increase in blood pressure is temporary and not even enough to cause you any health damage. However, when you sit in this position for a long time, the story will slightly not be the same.

2. Varicose Veins

Sitting cross-legged does not cause varicose veins. Varicose veins occur when your veins become enlarged, dilated, and overfilled with blood. Obesity, standing for long hours, pressure on the mid-section of the body, pregnancy and age are risk factors.

3. Poor Circulation

Sitting with your legs crossed can create pressure on the peroneal nerve, which is located in the back of the knee, and may lead to tingling or numbness in your feet. However, there’s little prove that sitting in this position can affect your circulatory system.

4. Back and neck pain

You are most likely to have back and neck pain if you frequently sit with your legs crossed. When you sit with both feet placed on the ground, your spine would rest squarely on your pelvis. But when you place one leg over the other, you are putting increased pressure on your hip which throws your spine off balance and could lead to back and neck pain. According to Dr. Vivian Eisenstadt, frequent leg crossing is the main cause of back and neck pain, as well as herniated disc.

5. Nerve damage

As it turns out – the peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve stretches from the lower back to our feet.

Leg crossing can cause undue pressure on the peroneal nerve leading to tingling and numbness and may eventually lead to nerve damage over an extended period.


The best advice I can give to you now is to be active. Don’t sit for a long time with your legs crossed. If your job requires you sitting for a long time, you can always get up and stretch or walk around every thirty minutes.

Lastly, research has found out that good posture- whether standing or sitting – leads to improved intelligence; protects from back pain; prevents diabetes and heart disease: improves lung function. Therefore, focus on sitting up straight.

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