Can Crossing Your Legs Cause Varicose Veins?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
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Don’t believe the myth that crossed legs cause varicose veins - but you should get up from your seat often whether or not you cross your legs.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about varicose veins, but one of the wackier rumors is that crossing your legs is a leading cause of those bulging veins. The myth became so widespread that a decade ago one company even started a campaign to stop women from crossing their legs.

As you may have already guessed, like so many other misconceptions about varicose veins, this particular belief is false. Whether or not you develop varicose veins hinges on several factors — but your favorite sitting position isn’t among them.

What Causes Varicose Veins (And it Has Nothing to do With Crossing Your Legs)

Varicose veins are a direct result of venous insufficiency, or a breakdown in the normal flow of blood through our veins and arteries. Arteries supply nutrient-rich oxygenated blood from the heart to our organs and tissues, which veins then return to the heart. Valves in the veins prevent blood from flowing back down. But when those valves weaken and lose their ability to push blood upward, blood stays in the vein, putting pressure on the vein walls. That pressure eventually causes the veins to enlarge, becoming varicose veins.

So why do those valves weaken in the first place? The most common culprits are heredity, lack of exercise, obesity, and pregnancy. Yet there’s another risk factor that contributes to the development of varicose veins, and it’s probably the origin of the idea that crossing your legs causes the condition: sitting at a desk all day.

Believe it or not, sitting puts enormous pressure on the vein valves. The constant stress of downward gravity pressing on the veins can obstruct circulation, causing the veins to swell and push outward into visible varicose veins.

If you don’t already have varicose veins or aren’t at risk, you can safely cross your legs. However, if you work at a job where you remain seated for long hours, you might want to take frequent strolls around the office whenever possible and do ankle circles while seated. These simple exercises help maintain blood flow in the legs and strengthen the calf muscles that assist the veins in pumping blood to the heart.

However, there is actually merit to the idea that people who already have varicose veins could exacerbate the symptoms of varicose veins by crossing their legs. Putting one leg over the other may block blood flow to the calves and feet, increasing the pain and swelling of varicose veins.

There remains no scientific evidence showing crossing your legs actually causes varicose veins, but you should probably avoid crossing your legs if you have varicose veins. The best way to do this is to make sure your feet touch the floor while seated.

Investing in a pair of high-quality compression stockings can prevent varicose veins or reduce the bothersome symptoms, as well. By providing a boost to the leg veins in their effort to pump blood, these tight-fitting socks manage swelling and discomfort. You can purchase compression stockings through Center for Vein Restoration’s compression stocking shop, or at your local drugstore.

Finally, you should consider treatment for your varicose veins, or at the very least discussing your risk factors with a vascular specialist. You have a variety of methods from which to choose, ranging from sclerotherapy to endovenous ablation. Each treatment is done in an office setting with minimal anesthesia, and recovery time is short with minor post-op precautions. After treatment, you can sit with your legs crossed, free from the pain of varicose veins.

Visit the Vein Specialists

You don’t have to suffer one more day with varicose veins. At Center for Vein Restoration, our entire practice focuses on vein health. Our specialists work with each patient individually to develop a treatment plan that takes into account their condition and preferences. Contact us today for an appointment at one of our many convenient locations.

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