“Do not cross your legs, which is bad for your health”, “Worry if your leg often falls asleep when crossing it”, “Men should not cross their legs so much” … are these myths true? It is clarified by a specialist in preventive medicine.
Who doesn’t cross their legs sometime throughout the day? Sometimes it is done automatically, sometimes it is done for comfort (to hold a book, for example), sometimes for nerves (it is a way of feeling protected in oneself).
Surely your doctor, your partner, your parents, your friends … have told you that about “Don’t cross your legs, it’s bad for circulation.” Or you may have said or thought it yourself.
Everybody says it, but is it true? Can crossing your legs really be bad for your health? Professor of preventive medicine Merlin Thomas clarifies this myth in many aspects in an article by The Conversation.
Is it true that crossing your legs causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins are swollen blood vessels that occur when the tiny valves that normally keep blood flowing in only one direction are injured: back to the heart. If you have varicose veins, it means that at some point the valves have not done the job well and blood has seeped through some of the smaller veins. These are inflated by pressure and reflected on the skin in that well-known shape.
Do the valves that control blood flow deteriorate due to crossing the legs and that causes varicose veins? Thomas explains that although it is true that crossing the legs highlights varicose veins, This position has nothing to do with the creation of these.
“Varicose veins are the consequence of an intrinsic problem of the veins. If you want to blame someone, blames genes, obesity, gender, inactivity, age, or stages of pregnancy“. These factors can condition varicose veins, but not a movement such as crossing the legs.
Is it true that crossing your legs is bad for your back, hips, and pelvis?
Some experts, such as chiropractors, may tell you that crossing your legs will cause poor posture due to its downstream effects. towards the back, hips and pelvis.
“Although it is true that those with back or hip problems may experience discomfort when crossing their legs, the cause and effects of these symptoms are not clear yet“.
The preventive medicine specialist explains that it is normal for you to think that crossing your legs is related to these inconvenience because this pose stretches the back muscles. If you have problems in that area, they will manifest themselves by crossing legs, but that does not mean that this position is the cause.
“The cause could be sitting in poor quality chairs for a long time“.
Thomas further argues that there is evidence that crossing the legs can be beneficial: It could reduce pressure on abdominal muscles and improve joint stability.
Should you be concerned if your leg goes to sleep very often when you cross it?
Have you felt that your leg has fallen asleep when crossing your legs and have you worried about it? Prolonged compression of the fibular nerve can cause this phenomenon. The good news is that it is not a dangerous sign that there is something wrong with your legs or that severe paralysis is about to occur. Nor should you worry if it takes a few minutes to feel your leg normally after uncrossing it; in some people this relatively long type is normal.
What is true is that, for a very small number of people, keeping your legs crossed for a long time can damage the nerve, “but it is more possible that it is due to a special susceptibility rather than something motivated by the behavior“.
Is it true that crossing your legs can cause fertility problems in men?
There is this widespread myth that men should not cross their legs very much. It is said that this position can compress the testicles and cause negative effects in that area.
“You should probably leave your legs crossed for many hours each day for that to have a minimal effect on your sperm. In addition, many men unconsciously tend to rotate their waist outward when crossing their legs and this relieves tension.“.
The possible origin of all these negative myths
Finally, this professor specialized in preventive medicine tries to unravel where all these negative myths about crossing the legs come from. Thomas believes that it may be related to the fact that some countries and cultures, this movement is frowned upon. It is seen as a sign of disrespect or an indication that you belong to the lower class.
“For some reason, many Orthodox religions frown when someone crosses their legs in church. Pity and respect aside, it is generally unlikely that you will suffer long-term damage from crossing your legs. The problem may lie in having sat down badly. So get up and move“.
This article was published in Business Insider Spain by Daniel Cáceres.