Why do we sit crossed-legged?

Many of us find ourselves crossing our legs when we sit. Some more than others. A simple explanation of why we do this comes back to sitting posture and comfort. For many, the act of crossing the legs mechanically levers the upper body back into the back rest of their chair. While this might provide some temporary relief in their back and allow them to apparently sit up better, it comes at a price.

Why shouldn’t I sit like this?

When we sit and don’t move we know that our blood circulation is seriously slowed at the detriment of delivering refreshed oxygenated blood and nutrients as well as the removal of the waste products that our human machine produces in very basic functions. In the world of those with a neurological deficit where sensation is compromised, sitting on a non-conforming surface will impede blood flow, sometimes completely to the areas around their SITS bones and tail bone. The greatest risk here is tissue death or simply referred to as pressure sores. Without oxygen, our tissues will die.

When we cross our legs we essentially cut off the blood supply to our lower extremities preventing fresh oxygenated blood from reaching this area and restricting venous return. In addition, we shift our pelvis backward placing more pressure on our tail bone with a similar compromise. Of course, this position also results in a much more flexed lumbar spine which in time will result in an imbalance of our supportive soft tissues around the spine and an instability that carries over to our other activities of daily living.

As much a habit as anything else, crossing our legs essentially strangles our lower extremities and when we feel the need we should seek healthier habits like going for a walk, moving in your active sitting chair, or standing for a period of time with your standing desk

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