Do you tend to cross your legs or ankles while sitting? If so, you may want to rethink this potentially dangerous habit. Although many find it comfortable, sitting cross-legged for long periods can impact your health.
You may not realize that 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.
Here’s what you need to know about minimally-invasive vein treatment because of blood circulation, vein disease, crossed ankles and legs.
Is Crossing Your Legs Bad For Your Health?
When you sit for extended periods, you may notice that your feet, legs, or buttocks begin to tingle. You may experience this sensation as “pins and needles.” In some situations, these regions may become completely numb.
This type of tingling and numbness occurs because of constricted blood flow to these areas of the body. Sitting with crossed legs or crossed ankles can make things worse. If tingling or numbness happens only occasionally, there is probably no reason to be concerned. However, if it happens often, you may want to make some changes.
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.
Keep in mind that not only is sitting cross-legged bad for you, so is sitting for prolonged periods in any position. The same is true for standing still for long periods. These positions can strain your circulatory system, which can damage your veins.
Should I Sit With My Legs Crossed?
More than 30% of the US population is affected by vein disease, or venous insufficiency. Vein disease is the underlying cause of varicose and spider veins. This common health condition occurs when tiny, one-way vein valves become damaged and are unable to pump blood back to your heart. Instead, blood flows the wrong way and begins to pool, most commonly in the lower extremities.
We generally recommend that you should avoid sitting with crossed legs or ankles, especially if you have additional risk factors. We want you to be aware that genetics and aging both play significant roles in developing venous issues. You are also considered at increased risk if you are:
- A woman
- Obese or overweight
- A smoker
- In a job that requires prolonged sitting or standing
Along with causing unsightly varicose veins, vein disease can lead to a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms. These include:
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Tired, aching legs
- Burning in the calf or thigh
- Leg pain that feels better when you walk or raise your legs
- Itchy, dry skin
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Difficulty standing for long periods
- Non-healing wounds on your legs
Beyond symptomatic vein pain and discomfort, untreated vein issues can lead to dangerous health conditions. Venous ulcers are open, non-healing wounds that can leave you susceptible to skin and blood infections. Even more alarming is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a severe type of blood clot. DVT is a life-threatening condition; if you suspect that you have it, please seek emergency care.
Health Effects of Crossing Your Legs
Our vein specialists know that not only is crossing legs bad for circulation, but it can also lead to venous insufficiency. Of note, crossing your legs while pregnant should absolutely be avoided since pregnancy is another risk factor for vein disease.
To resolve minor venous issues before they become major health problems, look for signs of poor circulation like:
- Cold feet or legs: If certain areas are colder than other parts of your body, this may indicate reduced blood flow.
- Swollen legs, ankles, or feet: Pain and swelling in the lower extremities can mean that your vein valves are malfunctioning.
- Muscle cramping: You may experience muscle aches and pains when blood circulation is affected.
- Numbness: Poor circulation due to crossed legs can lead to tingling or numbness in your legs or feet.
- Skin changes: Regional skin discoloration can occur due to a lack of blood flow.
- Leg wounds: If you notice open, non-healing wounds on your legs, these may be signs of advancing vein disease.
- Varicose veins: When blood pools due to poor circulation, it can cause varicose veins to form.
The Importance of Breaking the Habit
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.
For the sake of your overall health, it is essential to break the unnecessary habit of crossing your legs. If you need help, try doing leg stretches or flexing your feet whenever you feel the urge to sit cross-legged. You can also get up and move around, which can help prompt better blood flow.
Understandably, there may be some situations when not crossing your legs is difficult to navigate. In that case, try to keep the time spent with crossed legs to a minimum. We recommend that you avoid spending more than two hours per day in this position.
Minimally-Invasive Vein Disease Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
If you are concerned about your vein health, our experts at USA Vein Clinics can help. We offer compassionate care and outpatient vein treatment at 90 clinic locations across the country. You can now schedule an in-person or virtual visit online. During your initial visit, we can help identify your vein disease risk factors and make appropriate recommendations.
If you are avoiding the doctor because you fear medical intervention or surgery, we want to set your mind at ease. If vein treatment is recommended, you may be surprised at how easy and convenient it can be. Our minimally-invasive treatments take only 15 to 30 minutes, allowing you to leave immediately afterward. Even better, you can return to most normal activities the same day.
When you are ready, we look forward to helping you take control of your vein health. In the meantime, try to remain active and avoid crossing your legs whenever possible.