Crossing Your Legs: Here’s Why You Should Break the Habit

Many people cross their legs when they sit down. If you’re one of them, you may want to rethink your actions. Crossing your legs isn’t doing your circulation or your veins any favors. A cross-legged position puts unnecessary pressure on specific areas of your body. This pressure can lead to circulatory problems and ultimately contribute to vein disease, or venous insufficiency.

Is Crossing Your Legs Bad for You?

When you sit for extended periods, you may notice that your feet, legs, or buttocks begin to tingle and sometimes may become completely numb. This occurs because of constricted blood flow to these areas of the body. Sitting with crossed legs or crossed ankles can make it even harder for your blood to keep flowing. These positions can strain your circulatory system and damage your veins. 

The good news is that crossing your legs or ankles is simply a bad habit and behavior can be changed relatively easily. For instance, if you work in a job that requires long periods of sitting, you may need to take frequent breaks to move around. If you cannot leave your desk, you can try stretching or massaging your legs in place. These actions can help get your blood properly flowing again.

Crossing Your Legs Damages Your Veins

Arteries pump blood away from your heart and veins carry it back. Varicose and spider veins happen when tiny one-way valves inside your veins become damaged and are unable to pump blood back to your heart. Instead, blood flows the wrong way and begins to pool, usually in the lower extremities thanks to gravity and the fact that people spend most of their time in an upright or standing position. Unfortunately, legs and ankles are located in that lower portion of the body. 

Symptoms of Vein Disease

Along with causing varicose veins, vein disease can lead to a range of other symptoms including:

  • Tired, aching legs
  • Burning in the calves or thighs
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Leg pain that reduces when you walk or raise your legs
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Difficulty standing for long periods
  • Leg wounds that won’t heal
  • Dry, itchy skin

Untreated vein issues can lead to dangerous health conditions. Venous ulcers are open, non-healing wounds that can leave you susceptible to infection. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), is a severe type of blood clot that is life-threatening.

Risk Factors That Make Leg Crossing Even More Detrimental

More than 30% of the US population is affected by vein disease, or venous insufficiency. People with additional risk factors should definitely try to break the bad habit of crossing legs and ankles. Genetics and aging both play significant roles in developing venous issues, so if you have relatives with spider or varicose veins, it’s more likely that you will get them as well. You are also considered at increased risk if you are:

  • A woman
  • Pregnant
  • A smoker
  • Hypertensive
  • Diabetic
  • Inactive
  • Overweight
  • In a job that requires prolonged sitting or standing

Signs of Poor Circulation

To resolve minor venous issues before they become major health problems, look for signs of poor circulation like:

  • Cold feet or legs: this may indicate reduced blood flow.
  • Swollen legs, ankles, or feet: can mean that your vein valves are malfunctioning.
  • Muscle cramping: You may experience muscle pain when blood circulation is affected.
  • Tingling/Numbness: Poor circulation due to crossed legs can lead to tingling or numbness in your legs or feet.
  • Skin discoloration: can occur due to a lack of blood flow.
  • Leg wounds: open, non-healing wounds may be signs of advancing vein disease.
  • Varicose veins: When blood pools, it can cause varicose veins to form.

Along with contributing to circulatory issues, crossed legs can lead to other health problems, too. For instance, sitting cross-legged can affect your posture and eventually lead to hip and back pain. Start working now to break the habit. Your legs, hips, back, and especially your veins will thank you.

If you’d like to see a doctor about venous issues, give us a call at (913) 541-3377 in Overland Park or (816) 792-1188 in Liberty or schedule an appointment online.

Whether you’re seeking relief from discomfort, fatigue or unsightliness of spider or varicose veins, the Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City works to deliver maximum results with minimum recovery time. We’ll get you back on your legs…and back to living. Contact us today for an office visit!