“Don’t cross your legs; you’ll get varicose veins”.
How many of you heard this from your mothers or grandmothers in your youth? (Or in my case, my great grandmother!) Is it true? Does crossing your legs lead to the development of varicose veins?
Varicose veins are those swollen, blue or purple, bulging veins that are visible through the skin and which so many people get in their legs. They can occur elsewhere in the body, but the lower legs are by far the most common area of concern. They may also develop as tiny, red or purple spider veins.
As many as 30% of all adults have some level of varicose veins by middle age, and their prevalence increases with age.
Does Crossing Your Legs Cause Varicose Veins?
No! This is a common medical myth that has been passed down for generations – probably ever since women began wearing shorter skirts that displayed their legs one hundred years ago!
Crossing your legs does not in any way cause varicose veins or spider veins to develop. The condition, rather, results from issues within the veins themselves. Various things may exacerbate the severity of varicose veins, such as standing for long periods or being overweight.
Likewise, crossing your legs will not worsen existing veins as the pressure on the veins from crossing the legs is negligible.
Causes of Varicose Veins
This condition is a result of increased blood pressure in the veins, which are the blood vessels that return blood from the body tissues to the heart. There are one-way valves within the veins, and these valves can weaken or fail, as can the vein walls. As a result, the veins may collapse, and blood can flow backwards or pool in the lower legs and ankles due to the effect of gravity.
The impact of this is not just cosmetic, but also functional, with symptoms including achiness, itching, fatigue, swelling, inflammation, and in severe cases, sores and ulcers on the skin or the veins.
Common causes of varicose veins include:
- Genetics – as many as half of these cases have a genetic component – if your parents or grandparents had varicose veins, you are significantly more likely to experience the issue as well.
- Prior thrombosis (blood clots) or injury to the veins – even months or years later.
- Age – the issue becomes more common from middle age and risks increase into old age.
- Obesity – a higher body weight puts more pressure on the veins of the pelvis and legs.
- Pregnancy – due to a higher blood volume and weight in the pelvis of the growing foetus., placing pressure on the lower body.
- Sex – men and women both get varicose veins, however, women have a stronger propensity due to hormonal effects and pregnancy.
- Inactivity – a sedentary lifestyle contributes to varicose veins, as circulation and muscle tone are diminished.
Varicose Vein Prevention
- Maintain a healthy body weight, as being overweight increases the risk of developing and worsening varicose veins, due to increased pressure on the legs.
- Exercise regularly to improve the health of your veins, muscle tone, and circulation.
- If you are on your feet for long periods, e.g. in the workplace, wear compression socks, stockings, or pantyhose.
- Elevate your legs when possible, especially if you are seated for long periods.
- Change position regularly, whether standing or sitting.
- If you begin to develop symptoms, including aching, pain, unsightly veins, and more, seek medical advice and have your varicose veins monitored and treated early.
Is There any Reason to Stop Crossing your Legs?
As a side note, while leg crossing has no impact on varicose veins, it may be a good idea to minimise the practice if you have high blood pressure. Studies have suggested that crossing the legs at the knee can temporarily increase blood pressure slightly. Conversely, some people can even successfully avoid impending syncope (fainting), which is caused by a drop in blood pressure, by crossing their legs at the knee.
Call Crows Nest Vein Clinic Now
Are you concerned about painful legs? Do you wish to remove unsightly veins?
Dr Nicole James offers the very best vein treatment options at Crows Nest Vein Clinic. She is an extremely caring, highly-trained, expert vein treatment specialist and her approach is minimally invasive for pain-free varicose vein removal. She works with men and women of all ages to help them eliminate and recover from varicose veins for optimal health and wellness outcomes. No matter whether your concern is simple spider veins or severe vein disease, Dr James can help.
Contact us now to book a consultation with Dr James.
Call (02) 9906 1555 or email [email protected].