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Is Sitting Cross Legged Causing You Pain?

For most people, today’s world sees an increased amount of hours spent indoors sitting on our backsides. Many people, either through comfort or habit, spend some of this time sitting cross-legged. Have you considered the effect sitting cross-legged has on your low back, pelvis or hips?

Simply placing the Right knee over the left produces the following effects …


Creates some sidebending to the right side.

Sidebending right through the lower back will result in shortening of the muscles on this side and lengthening of the opposite side (namely quadratus lumborum – see below). Sidebending right also increases the load on the joints between the vertebrae on the right side and stretches the joints and supporting structures (e.g. ligaments) on the left.


Results in elevation of the right side of the pelvis.

This reates increased pressure around the left sit bone, and can irritate some of the muscles inserting here (eg hamstrings), or the bursa (a fluid filled sac) or even the sciatic nerve as it passes through this region and courses down the back of the leg.

It also elongates the piriformis muscle and some of the deep rotators of the hip, that act like a cuff and aid in hip stability.


Elevation of the right leg to place over the left will create shortening of the right hip flexors (psoas major and iliacus), it will also elongate the hamstrings muscles at the back of the thigh.

Taking the right knee across the midline will create shortening of the right adductors and lengthening of the muscles at the outside of the leg.

The message would seem pretty clear: to avoid unnecessary back, pelvic or hip pain and unwanted muscle imbalances, uncross your legs. Be vigilant and use reminders – a post it note on your computer screen may be all that it takes!