In a perfect world we would all sit at our work desks with bums in the back of the chair and our feet flat on the floor but for most of us we don’t and we find the need to be shifting our weight around in our chairs regularly throughout the day. One of the positions we often shift to is the classic ‘cross legged’ position or even sitting on one leg crossed on the chair. Crossing your legs while sitting in a chair is not the worst thing in the world but prolonged periods of it can lead to a couple of physical issues.
What’s it doing to your hips?
Sitting cross legged can increase the stretch in our hips and glutes – we often only sit with one leg crossed over the other and very rarely switch to the other. For instance I prefer to sit with my right leg crossed over my left and find it super uncomfortable and awkward to sit with my left crossed over my right. Habitual sitting in this direction has ment that my right glute has more stretch then my left and that my right pelvis often sits higher then my left.
Does sitting cross legged affect your nerves?
Yes – it affects your peroneal nerve. If you ever get tingling down your outer shin and into you foot in may be because you are squashing your peroneal nerve while you are sitting cross legged. The peroneal nerve runs superficially to the head of fibula (the knobbly bit you can feel next to your shin bone near your knee) and is often pressed against the other leg when cross legged.
As a physio – we do often recommend a cross legged sitting stretch to help stretch out the glutes but it’s not the go to position for extended periods of time throughout the day. The sitting cross legged part is not the crux of the problem it’s the HABITS WE CREATE and prolonged periods of sitting in on direction that cause the dysfunction in our hips, knees and ankles. So next time you sit down to work, have a think about HOW you are sitting and what it’s doing to your joints.
Deb Chen, Physiotherapist