A new study was recently released recently in the journal Blood Pressure Monitoring, and we have a feeling it will put your mind (and legs) at ease.
The old wives’ tale that sitting with your legs crossed is what causes your varicose veins is no more—once and for all. There is no direct connection between the way you sit and your veins.
But there are, however, implications for your leg health. The study revealed that “sitting with your legs crossed at the knee can raise your blood pressure.” The study found that leg crossing increased systolic blood pressure nearly 7% and diastolic by 2%.
The main takeaway of the study is that there are no immediate effects from sitting cross-legged. One of the main researchers from the study said it best that how you sit is not the main issue for your legs. It can be bad after a long period of time “because really what you should be doing is exercising.”
But we are not out of the woods just yet. According to the study, there are some other health risks involved in leg crossing. As it turns out, sitting for long periods of time with your legs crossed “not only raises your blood pressure but puts stress on the hip joints.”
If you think about the awkward position of your legs when you sit with your legs crossed, it does take some time to become a comfortable way to sit. Meanwhile, once you become accustomed to sitting this way, it is a very hard habit to break.
To prevent discomfort and pain, doctors suggest that if you are sitting for long periods of time that you do minor exercises to keep blood circulating. For example, if you lift your feet off the ground and flex them up and down, it will help to keep blood pumping through your legs. If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, it is often a good idea to set an alarm that will get you up and moving from time to time so that your legs are not building up too much pressure.
At the end of the day, sitting with your legs crossed is not really related to the onset of varicose veins. You have to sit for a “very, very long time” before you are in any real danger—but you should always be aware of your legs and listen to how they feel. What you think is simple and temporary leg discomfort could be much worse.
Your legs take on enough pressure everyday, so why put more stress on them than is necessary?