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Diet & Nutrition

Why you should never cross your legs

When was the last time you sat down and crossed your legs?

Whether it was at work, at home, or on the bus, chances are that at some point today you sat down and crossed your legs.
It might be comfortable, but is it good for you?
You may have heard that crossing your legs can give you varicose veins or that sitting with your legs crossed for an extended amount of time can increase your blood pressure.
According to Dr Dasha Fielder these claims are not accurate.
However, while Dr Fielder notes sitting with crossed legs isn’t an issue in an otherwise healthy individual – it’s not the best position for your body.
Dr Fielder says that one of the problems with prolonged leg crossing is that it causes unequal weight distribution.
“When you have your legs crossed you put more pressure on one of your hips, pelvis and your lower spine and if you have hip or spine issues it might result in back and hip pain,” she explains.
Even if you find leg crossing a comfortable position, Dr Fielder says that it is best to avoid doing it for long periods. Instead she says it’s best to maintain an upright posture with a straight back with your feet placed flat on the ground.
“This will avoid any excessive pressure on hips, pelvis and spine,” she explains.
Physiotherapist Scott Wilson agrees. He also notes that sitting still in any position for more than thirty minutes isn't good for your body.
“Loading your body in one position for extended periods of time will create issues for you at some point,” he says.
In particular, Wilson says that people who have issues such as ‘gluteal tendinopathy’, 'adductor tendinopathy’ and ‘trochanteric bursitis’, shouldn’t ever cross their legs.
“The compression on their tendons or bursa is not great at all and can irritate their injury,” he explains.
So, when you find yourself sitting for an extended period of time, what can you do to minimise the impact on your body?
“Movement is your friend,” says Wilson.
“Changing position and postures throughout the day is the aim.”
And if you happen to have a job that keeps you at your desk all day? Dr Fielder offers the following advice:
  1. Take regular breaks, if possible every hour, changing position from sitting to standing for a few minutes, or taking a short walks.
  2. Where possible, use the stairs and not the lift. Park your car a little further so you get that all important incidental exercise into your day.
  3. Go out for lunch and take a walk around the block.
  4. Do regular back stretches, simple back flexion extension, and rotation to reduce the risk of pain in your back.
  5. Generally stay fit and be active every day. You can always find 45 minuets in your day before or after work, or even during your lunch break.
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