Sitting Cross-legged: Dangerous or Harmless?

A common sitting position is sitting cross-legged on the floor. It can be seen in many countries worldwide and has been a popular sitting position for centuries. However, some believe that sitting cross-legged is actually quite dangerous! This article will explore whether sitting cross-legged is dangerous or harmless, as well as why it might be considered harmful to your body.


When you’re at the office or sitting on a bus, how do you like to sit? Many people prefer to stretch one leg out forward and then cross over with the other. Crossing your legs can cause discomfort, but it’s one of the most comfortable positions for many people. So, is crossing your legs causing you more harm than good?

Many people claim that crossing your legs causes varicose veins, reproductive problems for pregnant women, and high blood pressure. Keep reading to learn what science has found out about these claims.


During pregnancy, a woman experiences physical changes. The center of gravity is shifted forward due to uterine stretching, which can affect balance and posture. You might find yourself walking, sitting, or standing differently than you usually do.

You might find yourself in different positions while sitting if you’re trying to get comfortable while pregnant, but none of them are harmful to you or your baby, including sitting with crossed legs.

That said, you’re more susceptible to muscle strain and back pain during pregnancy. Cross-legged sitting is not harmful to your child but could lead to leg cramps or swollen ankles. If you feel pain in your ankles, feet, or legs while sitting with your legs crossed, try switching positions to sit with both feet on the floor.

SittingCrossLeggedHigh blood pressure

When a physician tests for your blood pressure, they ask you to have both feet on the floor because crossing one leg over the other can cause a spike in blood pressure.

A study published in the article of Clinical Nursing found a notable increase in blood pressure when participants crossed their legs at the knee. There was no increase when they crossed their legs at the ankle level.

Furthermore, a study also found that participants had slightly higher blood pressure when crossing their legs by putting their ankle on their knee.

These studies have shown that crossing your legs can temporarily raise blood pressure, but the effects are only temporary. If you already have high blood pressure, it’s best to avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time just as a precaution.

Varicose Veins

For years it has been rumored that crossing your legs can cause varicose veins. This is a myth.

Varicose veins are a condition where twisted, bulging veins pop out of the legs. They can be blue and red. Varicose veins are usually found inside of your thigh, as well as on the backs of your calves and inner legs. They’re most often seen in older women and pregnant women.

Varicose veins are caused by a problem with the valves in your veins, which attempt to pump blood up toward the heart, when the valves open and close as necessary, one-way valves prevent blood from leaking back down.

When the valves in your veins become damaged or weakened, gravity can pull blood back down. When this happens, veins swell up. This condition is called venous insufficiency, and varicose veins occur when that accumulated blood causes bulging.

Sitting or standing for a long time may increase your risk of developing varicose veins, but there’s no evidence that crossing your legs can lead to damage. If you are worried about developing varicose veins, try changing the position of your legs.


While most of the myths about crossing your legs are often untrue, but there is one important side effect that you may have overlooked: poor posture.

The most common issue for individuals who sit with one leg over the other is that it causes your pelvis to rotate and tilt. This puts pressure on your spine, which could lead to chronic pain in the lower back. Also, if you keep this habit longer than necessary, it could lead to a misalignment in your spinal segments.

When your posture is poor, your muscles force to work extra hard, leading to pain and stiffness.

Although the benefits of crossing your legs are questionable, there are certainly better sitting positions to use.

The Bottom Line

Sitting with your legs crossed does not cause a medical emergency, but it can elevate your blood pressure and lead to bad posture. As a general optimum health rule, try to avoid sitting in any one position for too long.

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