Health Female Adda
8 months ago
Is it OKAY to sit with your legs crossed on a chair?

We know by now that our sitting position has an impact on our health. More than anything it affects the spine and the muscles in the back — especially on the back and lower back — which could lead to various physiological and also psychological problems. In fact, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine points out that women who sit at their desk for more than seven hours each day are three times more at risk of experiencing depressive symptoms than those who sit for less than four hours a day. Add to it the perils of bad posture you are in for a disaster. Did you know sitting at your desk for 10 to 12 hours can make you sad and depressed?

The thumb rule to follow while sitting (either on the floor or chair) is to keep your spine erect, your shoulders and thighs parallel to the ground with feet resting on the floor being flat. But most of us choose to sit in the wrong position either knowingly or unknowingly for comfort. Surprisingly, the position that is supposed to be the correct seems to give us the least comfort and most of us prefer to slouch, bend or hunch on our chairs. But for some, even this is not enough, to ensure comfort they prefer to sit with legs crossed even on the chair. Here are a few ways in which you should never sit on a chair.

Often you might see someone sitting crossed leg in the boardroom, waiting areas, lounge or even at his/her own desk. Sometimes even you might do the same unknowingly. Admittedly, this posture might help you to get comfortable but is it advisable, we asked this question to Dr Miten Sheth, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, The Knee Clinic, Mumbai.

Sitting with legs crossed —good or bad?

‘Many people choose to sit with their legs crossed these days whether consciously or unconsciously, for comfort or to stop legs from splaying, to take pressure off a foot or for no reason at all. Although it feels like a natural sitting position, many believe that this could lead to varicose veins, raise blood pressure and wreck the alignment of the spine,’ says Dr Sheth. However, all these beliefs are not true he ensures. Here are few causes of back pain that you need to know.

‘Cross leg sitting has no significant cause or effect (long-term) on blood pressure and varicose veins. As far as joints and posture are concerned, there are a few observations worth sharing.  Crossing legs at the knee can stretch the piriformis muscle (small muscle in the buttock region, behind the hip joint), which in-turn can increase the stability of the pelvis. There is also some evidence that sitting crossed leg could reduce strain on abdominal muscles and indirectly improve pelvic stability,’ he says.

The downsides

However, there are a few downsides of sitting crossed leg as well: ‘sitting crossed leg leave the body a little lopsided, so it is almost impossible to sit up perfectly straight as you lean to one side. People who sit cross-legged for long hours have poor spinal posture for most of the day. This could give rise to a chronic lower back pain that may even extend all the way up to the neck and shoulder blades,’ warns Dr Sheth.

There are more dangers that follow, ‘Sitting cross-legged for several hours can lead to prolonged compression of the peroneal nerve that runs along the outer part of the knee. This can sometimes lead to numbness or weakness in the foot leading to a condition called nerve palsy or a ‘foot drop.’ However, it is neither dangerous nor a sign of impending paralysis, and generally reverses in a few seconds to minutes. In reality, long-term numbness is an unlikely consequence because as soon as we feel uncomfortable we tend to move,’ says Dr Sheth.

Dr Sheth concludes that sitting crossed leg will always be part and parcel of everyday ergonomics. Ideally, we must sit erect on a firm chair with feet flat on the floor, knees directly over the feet, and hips no lower than the knees.

Sitting crossed leg for few moments definitely won’t hurt.

Reference:

1: van Uffelen JG, van Gellecum YR, Burton NW, Peeters G, Heesch KC, Brown WJ.Sitting-time, physical activity, and depressive symptoms in mid-aged women. Am J Prev Med. 2013 Sep;45(3):276-81. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.04.009. PubMed PMID: 23953353.

Image source: Shutterstock

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