The Negative Effects of Sitting Cross Legged
If you sit for a large portion of your day and you habitually cross your legs one way, BEWARE! First, it can potentially lead to a change in blood pressure and circulation of your lower extremities. Second, it could be exacerbating or creating low back pain due to muscle imbalance and joint misalignments.
When you sit with neutral posture, your trunk weight is evenly distributed between your ischial tuberosities (aka sit bones- the bones you feel right under your gluts when you sit). However, when you sit cross legged the weight resting on your pelvis is confined to just one of the bones. This rotates (twists) your lower spine – a twist your body will compensate for by automatically creating another curve in your back. This places a strain on your pelvis and lower back, stretches the muscles on one side, and ultimately results in abnormal joint mechanics.
In addition, when you sit cross legged the quadratus lumborum muscle (QL) shortens causing an imbalance between the left and right side. Your QL inhabits the space between the bottom rib, the pelvis, and the transverse processes of the first four lumbar vertebrae. Best known as the ‘hip hiker’ muscle, its primary function is to bring the hip and rib cage closer together (lateral flexion or side bending).
This “hiking” in turn causes your iliopsoas to engage, your pelvis to rotate, and ultimately creates ligament laxity (over stretching of the ligament), once again resulting in abnormal joint mechanics and spinal misalignments.
Low back pain may be caused by a plethora of different reasons. Take preventative measures to ensure your posture while sitting is not contributing to it!
First: Stop crossing your legs and be vigilant about it. An easy way to create a new habit is to put a post-it note on your computer screen that says ‘uncross your legs’ as a reminder. Remember, it takes 21 days to make or break a habit so be consistent and don’t give up.
Hope this helps!
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic