Old wives’ tales can be pretty pervasive.
Chances are, a lifetime of hearing that you shouldn’t cross your legs lest you develop visible veins have you firmly planting both feet on the ground. But if you’re more comfortable resting one knee on the other, you shouldn’t hold back.
That is, unless you already have varicose veins.
We’ve detailed the reasoning behind the leg crossing and varicose vein connection below. If you already have varicose veins, be sure to read to the end for some practical advice about your legs that actually does apply, and isn’t just a popular fiction.
When Leg Crossing is Safe
The leg crossing / varicose veins rumor started decades ago. In 1999, there was actually a campaign called the Great American Cross-Out started by a dietary supplement company. This movement was intended to convince women to avoid crossing their legs on a predetermined day. The company insisted that leg crossing impacted circulation and could lead to varicose veins.
The issue is, multiple studies investigating varicose vein risk factors have found that leg crossing does not make an impact. The strongest risk factors are other components related to genetics, lifestyle factors and work posture – more on those below.
If you do not currently have varicose veins, you can go ahead and cross your legs. Blood should continue to flow normally and you will not heighten your risk of developing varicose veins by crossing one leg over the other. So, do whatever is most comfortable for you.
When You Should Keep Both Feet on the Ground
Varicose veins are widespread. About 50% of all women over 50 and 15% of all men over 50 develop bulging veins. If you’re already in that camp, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your posture.
But crossing your legs actually isn’t the primary problem – it’s sitting for long periods of time. Whether your legs are crossed or not, staying seated for hours at a time can slow blood flow. This may also increase the risk of developing a blood clot. You may have heard travel tips recently encouraging people to move around while on long flights – this is because thrombosis (blood clotting) can occur.
Standing for long periods is not recommended, either. The best thing for your veins is regular activity and periods of sitting interspersed with standing and walking. If you either stand or sit for more than 8 hours a day, your risk is heightened.
The Actual Risk Factors Behind Varicose Veins
There are a variety of risk factors, with some studies showing different factors for women than men.
A 1988 study of 3,822 American adults found that men’s biggest risk factors were
…and women’s were
- Lack of exercise
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight
The genetic component is also crucial. This is the primary reason that people develop varicose veins – in fact, more than 80% of those with varicose veins have at least one parent with bulging veins. This is true for spider veins as well.
Since genetics aren’t exactly something you can change, it’s a good idea to be aware of whether varicose veins run in your family. Then, you can take care to avoid other factors that will only further increase your risk.
If you’re concerned about existing varicose veins, or avoiding family members’ vein-related fate, be sure to embrace the following:
- A healthy lifestyle – “Healthy” means a few things here – mainly getting enough exercise, eating right, and losing weight if you are overweight. Make sure to stay active on a regular basis and do your best to establish a healthy work environment.
- Compression stockings or socks – These garments help support superficial veins and encourage healthy blood flow. They can also help minimize swelling in your legs.
- Regular medical care – See your doctor regularly to watch for signs of health conditions that may impact your vascular health.
Remember, if you already have varicose veins, hope is not lost. Today’s treatment options make it possible for every patient to find the method that fit their needs. From traditional sclerotherapy to laser therapy, there are treatments that you owe it to yourself to investigate.
Dr. Muasher offers thorough, personal consultations to new patients interested in learning more about varicose vein treatment. Schedule yours today.
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