I was a habitual leg-crosser for at least 15 years of my life. It seemed like such a comfortable, relaxing, and “cool” way to sit. But once my chiropractic education got rolling, I had no choice but to break this habit. Believe it or not, there are actually good and bad ways to sit…
Your pelvis has two “butt bones” called ischium that go to work whenever you sit in a chair. Similar to the spine, the pelvis needs to remain balanced in order to function properly. Good sitting positions distribute weight equally between the two ischium.
Sitting with your legs crossed shifts weight to one side, forcing it to work harder than the other. This biomechanical shift triggers the spine to compensate for a change in balance. As a result, undue stress and strain is applied to a number of spinal joints and muscles.
How can a position that seems comfortable be causing so much trouble? Despite years of abuse, our spines work tirelessly to make us feel at ease. The changes that occur as a result of body imbalance may take decades to develop.
Truth be told, the spine is like an armored tank that can handle an immense amount of stress for quite some time… but it can’t handle it forever. Eventually, you will start noticing the effects of this bad habit. Back, neck, hip, and tailbone pain can develop. Standing or walking for long periods of time may become intolerable. Shooting pains in the leg (sciatica) can also arise.
When you compound the effects of other negative lifestyle stress like atlas misalignment, stomach-sleeping, being overweight, smoking, and dehydration (among others), the spine and pelvis can give out on you even sooner.
As an alternative, try crossing your ankles instead. This allows for a properly balanced pelvis, and just so happens to be a more elegant way of sitting.