Is It Bad to Cross Your Legs?

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is it bad to cross your legs

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.

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Is Crossing Your Legs Bad For Your Health?

Untitled design 29When 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
  • Pregnant
  • Inactive
  • Obese or overweight
  • A smoker
  • Hypertensive
  • Diabetic
  • 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.

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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.

Benefits of Sitting Cross-Legged 

Do you like to sit cross-legged, but may be concerned if is beneficial to your health? While there are some benefits, there are also some risks to be aware of. Typically, it is common for people to experience numbness, pinching, and cramps when sitting cross-legged for a long period of time. If you have difficulty crossing your legs, it may indicate that your lower-body muscles are weak. Your muscles may be tense if you have difficulty crossing your legs while sitting. If you want to be healthy, avoid sitting in one position for lengthy periods of time, whether you cross your legs or not.


  • Blood flow will improve.
  • The range of motion will improve.
  • Increase flexibility.
  • Less hip tension.
  • Muscles will be stretched without even doing anything.
  • It stimulates bowel movements.
  • Encourages natural stability. 
  • More muscle activity.

While there are benefits to crossing your legs, you still want to make sure you are taking breaks to stretch out your legs.



Can Crossing your Legs Hurt your Knees

When you are at home or at the office, what method of sitting do you prefer? For many people, crossing their legs is the most comfortable way to sit. In general, it has been considered bad to cross your legs while sitting. You may wonder, “Does it do more harm than good?” We were not meant to sit with our legs crossed for long periods of time. As a result, you may experience symptoms like knee pain and swelling.

You won’t experience any serious medical problems by sitting with your legs crossed, but when you sit with your knees crossed or bent under you, you overstretch your knee ligaments and muscles. In addition to increasing pressure on your knee joints, this can lead to pain and swelling. Furthermore, it can increase your blood pressure temporarily and may result in poor posture. Sitting in one position for long periods of time, whether your legs are crossed or not, is not ideal for your health.

In addition, sitting with your leg over your knee for extended periods of time can cause your pelvis to rotate and tilt. The result can be lower back pain, and it could cause your spine to become misaligned. 

Muscles are forced to compensate for improper posture. The muscles will work harder than they need to, which can lead to pain and stiffness. However, crossing your legs doesn’t mean you should stop doing it altogether. As a result of being in exactly the same position for too long, your leg or foot can eventually become numb. 




Legs Hurt When Crossing Them

Even for a few seconds, some people may find it impossible to sit with their legs crossed. It may cause numbness, pinching pain, and cramps in the legs, which can be a symptom of an underlying health problem. If you cannot sit with your legs crossed for a long time, it’s possible it may be tense muscles.

Additionally, if your legs hurt while crossing them, you may have some muscular imbalances and weakness. It is possible to put pressure on the peroneal nerve located behind the knee while crossing your legs. When you do this, however, you will only experience temporary pins and needles. This nerve will give sensation to your legs and feet. 

Crossing your legs can lead to other health issues as well. As an example, sitting with your legs crossed can result in hip and back pain. Also, you can get a groin strain if you overstretch or if there is a tearing injury to the muscles of the inner thigh or front of the hip. Groin strains make walking, lifting the knee, or moving the leg away from or around the body difficult and painful. The muscles in the groin area can be overused or suddenly contracted, which leads to strain.

Moreover, since your body weight rests on your glutes when you sit cross-legged, if your glutes are not strong enough, you may feel numbness in the area. You can improve your muscles by engaging in glute-boosting exercises. If you are unable to do so, get up every other hour and go for a walk to improve your circulation.

In general, sitting cross-legged puts a lot of strain on your thighs, and having weak thighs will make it difficult to hold the pose for a long time. Therefore, you should work out your legs at least once a week.

Your muscles may be stiff because your blood is not flowing properly, which is why you may feel numb in your lower body. The problem gets worse as you age. Your ankles and joints can also get stiff due to muscle stiffness. This is why keeping your body moving as often as possible will help improve your body, especially while crossing your legs.


It has been believed for decades that crossing your legs may cause varicose veins. This theory is a myth and not medically proven.

You may have noticed veins in your legs bulging, twisting, or having cord-like veins. These are varicose veins. It’s common for them to be blue or green, but they can also be red or flesh-colored. In general, they can be found on the backs of the calves, legs, or inner thighs. People of all ages can have varicose veins, but they tend to be more common in older or pregnant women.

Varicose veins are veins that have a problem with the valves, making it difficult for the blood to reach the heart. During the movement of blood going upward, one-way valves open and close, protecting blood from going back down. As a result of weakened or damaged valves, gravity pulls blood back down. The condition is known as venous insufficiency. Varicose veins are caused by accumulated blood that gets backed up, bulges, and causes swelling.

In fact, standing and sitting for extremely long periods of time may both lead to varicose veins. Crossing your legs isn’t linked to the development of varicose veins. Varicose veins may develop if your legs are constantly in the same position throughout the day. It is recommended to get up and move around if sitting too long. 


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.

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