It is the way many people prefer to sit down in a chair, whether they are at home on the sofa or in the office.
But now an expert has revealed the reasons why people should not sit with their legs crossed and the long-term effects the habit can have on the body.
There are two ways in which people choose to sit in a chair with their legs crossed —either at the knee or at the ankles.
While this may feel very comfortable, it can potentially have some very detrimental effects on the body — from increasing blood pressure to reducing sperm count.
It is estimated that 62 per cent of people cross right over left, 26 per cent prefer the opposite and 12 per cent have no preference, according to The Conversation.
But Professor Adam Taylor, director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre at Lancaster University, has revealed why you should avoid sitting with crossed legs.
There are two ways in which people choose to sit in a chair with their legs crossed and that is either at the knee or at the ankles
Misalignment of the skeleton
Seating habits can have an enormous impact on the body.
Research suggests that sitting cross-legged can cause the hips to become misaligned — when one hip sits higher than the other.
Leg crossing can also trigger long-term changes in how the bones are arranged in the spine and shoulders.
The head may also move out of place because of the changes in the bones of the neck, caused by the spin over-compensating to keep the centre body’s centre of gravity above the pelvis.
The neck, pelvis and lower back may also be affected, as sitting cross-legged over time can cause a muscle imbalance between the right and left sides of the body — leading to weakness, tightness and a reduced range of motion.
The benefits of sitting with crossed legs
Sitting cross-legged can reduce the activity in the obliques — the muscles on the side of the torso — compared to sitting with legs forward.
This can help relax the core muscle and prevent over-exertion.
Studies also suggest that sitting in this position can improve the stability of the sacroiliac joints — those responsible for transferring weight between the spine and legs.
More seriously, this formation of the legs can also increase the likelihood of scoliosis — when the spine twists and curves to the side — according to Professor Taylor.
Research has suggested sitting with one leg on top of the other can affect a man’s sperm count.
When sitting down, the temperature of the testicles already increases by 2C (35.6F).
But this figure rises to 3.5C (38.3F) when the legs are crossed.
But the ideal temperature for sperm production is 2C to 6C (35.6F to 42.8F) below body temperature, which sits at around 37C (98.6F).
Studies suggest that temperatures higher than this can lower a man’s sperm count and reduce sperm quality — which may make it harder to conceive naturally.
However, men may be less likely to sit with their legs crossed than women.
Professor Taylor said: ‘Due to differences in the anatomy of men and women, it’s probably much easier for women to sit cross-legged — particularly because men have a reduced range of motion at the hip.’
Sitting with your legs crossed obstructs the blood vessels in the lower limbs.
This slows down the speed of blood through your veins and can lead to blood clots.
Blood clots are gel-like collections of blood that form when blood changes from liquid to partially solid.
Deep vein thrombosis is a clot in the leg or pelvis, most commonly caused by not moving enough — such as when sitting at work for long periods of time or recovering from an operation.
Blood clots can be a normal bodily response, such as when the skin is cut or scraped, as it prevents excessive bleeding and turns into a scab.
Professor Taylor concluded: ‘It’s probably better to avoid crossing your legs if you can.
‘Though that said, many of the risk factors associated with crossing your legs are likely exacerbated by other underlying issues such as sedentary lifestyles and obesity.
‘So with this in mind, the main advice is to not sit still in the same position for too long and to keep regularly active.’
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