Crossing legs while seated is a common habit. Most people don’t even notice that they’re doing it when they sit down. While you may find it comfortable to sit with one knee crossed over the other, it might be causing health problems that you are not aware of.

A study published in Blood Pressure Monitoring stated that sitting with your legs crossed can increase your blood pressure. The reason this happens is because the blood in your legs must work against gravity in order to be pumped back to your heart. Crossing one leg over the other will increase vascular resistance, making it more difficult for the blood to circulate.

There aren’t any immediate effects, but if you sit for long periods of time it’s important that you take note of how long you have your legs crossed. You shouldn’t keep your legs crossed for more than 15 minutes at a time, and it’s beneficial to stand up and walk around every hour or so. This will help to maintain better circulation which will promote a healthier vascular system.

In addition to the vascular health effects, your musculoskeletal health can also become impacted by prolonged leg crossing. Crossing one leg over the other will create temporary imbalances in your spinal and pelvic regions.

These physical imbalances can lead to musculoskeletal stress patterns, resulting in symptoms such as neck and back pain. Ideally, it’s best for your body if you sit with your feet planted flat, hip width apart, on the floor. However, it’s not so easy to maintain perfect posture all day at the office. When you sit with your legs crossed, your hips tend to assume a twisted position, which can cause one or both of your pelvic bones to rotate out of alignment. Since your pelvic bone supports your spine, this can cause imbalances in your back and neck.

You may also notice that when you sit with your legs crossed for long periods of time your feet and legs become tingly or have the feeling of being asleep. This is because when one leg rests on top of the other, it causes pressure on the vessels and nerves in your legs. This can cause numbness and/or temporary paralysis in the legs, ankles, or feet. While the feeling of discomfort may only last a minute or two, repeatedly crossing your legs for prolonged periods until they feel numb may cause nerve damage.

The next time you sit down, try to get yourself into the habit of sitting with both feet on the floor. Patients with poor posture, which includes sitting with your legs crossed, will potentially require chiropractic care on a more regular basis.

Another way of looking at it is, maintaining a better posture by keeping your legs uncrossed while being seated for prolonged periods will help you hold your chiropractic adjustments. Not only will it help your posture and alignment, it will also promote better vascular health in the long run.