What no one tells you about crossing your legs at your desk – Varicose Veins, anyone?

Varicose veins: Hot, itchy, unsightly.

But, contrary to popular belief: not caused by crossing your legs at your desk.

Sorry, I tricked you into reading this….BUT – PLEASE DON’T GO: There ARE a wealth of other reasons why you should not cross your legs at your desk.…..far more terrifying than some pesky little veins. Pffft…that’s nothin’!

So, uncross those legs. Now!

Put your 2 feet flat on the floor and look on, dear reader….if you dare.

Numero Uno: Back Pain


Leg crossing is heavily indicated as a cause for lower back pain. Yes, sirree! Think about it: every time you cross that leg over that knee (and, lets be honest, it’s nearly always the same leg, right?! It’s okay we’re all friends here…..all wonky-hipped sore-backed friends), you are tilting and torqueing your pelvis around which puts added pressure on your lower back muscles and vertebrae.

You can imagine that doing this for hours a day, everyday, for many years can lead to a shortening of those muscles and a repositioning of your pelvis. This is why that position feels the most comfortable, you are facilitating that shortening and taking the pressure off. Cheeky!

What to do? Have an ergonomically designed desk, I personally have a footrest which I can angle to intermittently stretch my calves and resist the urge to cross my legs (available from Ikea for a mere $19).

There are many services available for an OT (Occupational Therapist) to help set up your working area in a manner which best supports good posture. If you’re in an office, ask your OHS rep or HR manager for a consult. After all, the more comfortable you are, the more productive you will be. Most of these therapists offer home visits, too, for those of us who work from home. If you are firmly committed to the idea of crossing your legs (you ARE a modest lady, after all) then at the very least swap sides as often as possible so you are not putting pressure on the same side all the time.

Numero Two-o: Increased Blood Pressure


Crossing your legs has been shown to raise systolic blood pressure. Ew! This temporary increase mostly affects readings of blood pressure when you are having a test, but for those of us who are doing it regularly, it puts added pressure on our hearts to get the venous uptake from our leggies.

Numero Svi: Varicose Veins


Alright, I know, I know….I did basically thwart this concept earlier….however, there is some evidence which indicates the potential for leg-crossing to exacerbate varicose veins if you already have them or are predisposed to them. In actual fact, research indicates that standing for long periods, pregnancy, obesity, sedentary lifestyles and genetics are the main contributors to varicose veins. So, as with most ailments in the body, it comes down to keeping it active and well.

Numero 4: You are closing yourself off to new jobs and friends


Well, those in the body language camp think so! Sitting with your legs crossed indicates defensiveness, anxiety and nervousness.

Check out this amazing TED Talk by Amy Cuddy about body language and “Power Poses” (Hint: Sitting with legs demurely crossed at the knee AINT ONE OF ‘EM!):


But, ladies: With all the above said, there is one plus to crossing your legs at the knees: According to a US magazine, this was voted as man’s favourite position for seated women! However, all that lower back pain, high blood pressure and itchy varicose veins may not really put you in the mood 😉

Yours with two feet firmly planted on my footstool,

Sarah xx

Sarah Watson

Managing Director, Clarity Wellness Centre






Clarity Admin

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