Is Sitting Cross-Legged (Indian Style) At Your Desk Harmful?



Is Sitting Cross-Legged (Indian Style) At Your Desk Harmful?

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Ergonomics and maintaining good posture have rightly been a topic that has gained a lot of attention in recent years.

The fever surrounding quick fixes to bad posture has resulted in massive online advertising campaigns that ended up touching almost every corner of the internet.

You might know what Im talking about.

Marketers feigning sore backs before exuding the benefits ofposture correcting shoulder bracesto halt slouching, or advocating a training programme of floor exercises intended to have you standing straight and tall in no time!

Ergonomic office furniture in particular has become popular amongst employees and occupational health departments alike (agreat example of this is this selection ofchairs which help manage sciatica pain).

Not least for reasons that the business can become more sustainable through caring for the wellbeing of their employees.

One pose said to improve posture and concentration more than most issitting cross legged at your desk.

Working in front of the computer whilst in this distinctly unbusinesslike position, and contorting your legs into shapes seemingly reserved for yogi masters might seem a little far fetched, maybe evenpotentially harmful.

But is there actually anything to be worried about by sitting Indian style?

I mean, humans have been sitting cross legged for centuries, (admittedly not at office desks, but at home, markets and religious gatherings) and theyve never had any health problems as a result have they? Have they???What does sitting Indian style mean?

Sitting Indian style is one name given to the seated position that involves crossing both of your legs in front of you. Its often compared to Sukhasana or the easy pose so frequently used in meditation practices and yoga.

If the story is to be believed, the term Indian style was coined when first settlers to North America observed the practices of Indigenous Americans during communal gatherings.

Whilst the etymology of the phrase will likely never be proven, its equally unlikely that the source of sitting cross-legged can be traced to any one particular people. I mean sitting on the ground is the de facto place to go when there arent any chairs to sit upon.

Here in the UK the position attributed to American Indians is plainly called sitting cross legged, whilst in Eastern European countries it is best known as the Turkish sit.

Regardless of the its origin, sitting in Sukhasana is intended to provide a means to improve comfort when sitting for long periods of time.Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from PexelsIs it bad to sit Indian style in a chair?

We spend so many hours of each day sitting down (about 6.5hrs) that its becoming more than a fringe contributor to many negative health conditions.

We now spend more time sitting in vehicles and in front of screens than ever before,sothe topic of biomechanics and how to sit correctly (or at least in a manner that preserves our joints and skeleton) is a popular one.

For those of us who are keen to look into taking better care of our posture, turning to Indian style sitting is thought to bring about several benefits:It promotes suppleness and natural flexibility in the ankles, knees and hipsIt encourages core muscle developmentIndirectly, the restriction of movement brought on by chairs with fixed backs and arm supports is removed

Despite the apparent upsides there are however a few negatives associated with sitting Indian style in a chair, but rest assured theyre nowhere near asscary as therisks of sitting on a cheap office chairwith a pressurised gas cannister beneath you!

Firstly, itcan feel unpleasant initially if youre not used to sitting fully cross-legged, or find it hard to bend your legs into that position. The muscle groups and joints responsible for supporting your body whilst sitting like this might not have been worked for a long time.Like any new habit its going to take time to get used to.

If youre inflexible to start with, a cross-legged position will place strain on your hip flexors unless aided by supports (such as blocks or bands). Its not a form that youll be able to hold for itially at least.

And until you become practiced at sitting cross legged at a desk and know how your body will respond, its likely Indian style sitting will be a cause of distraction to your work. Certainly to yourself, but also potentially your colleagues. No one wants to be sitting next to the noisy neighbour who shuffles about constantly!

When comparing sitting Indian style in a chair versus sitting on a floor mat  (balancing on a less stable surface; difficult to use support blocks or bands).And speaking of chairs, your likely going to have to stump up for one that is large enough to accommodate crossed legs. More on that later

If you find holding the position challenging due to stiffness or pain, there are a few tricks that you could try to alleviate the discomfort.

Initially the aim would be to train the muscles in and around your legs by simply moving in and out of the cross legged position.

Sitting Indian style should not to beconfused with sitting in a chair with one leg crossed over another that remains in contact with the ground. Crossing your legs in this manner can bring onperoneal palsythrough putting pressure on the back of your knee.

The direct pressure on the peroneal nerve causes reduced sensation to your foot and toes, and whilst not harmful isnt physiologically a form that you can maintain comfortably for a long time.Is there such a thing as a crossed-legged office chair?

Sitting cross legged during office hours has been explored as a means to improve productivity and wellbeing amongst workers.

Of course sitting in this manner will only be possible in a chair that is wide enough for you to lift your legs off the ground and cross them in front of you.

The Ikaria Design Company have taken it upon themselves to design an active sitting chair that allows you to cross your legs whilst raised off the ground.

TheSoul Seatis a US made chair that consists of an extra wide platform on which to sit and cross your legs, with a smaller raised podium (similar to ayoga block) where you park your backside.

Having multiple adjustable levels makes it easier to change posture and move in and out of various positions. Moving frequently not only places less strain on joints which arent familiar with being contorted but helps work various muscle groups to strengthen your core.

All other features of the Soul Seat are similar to those of traditional office chairs with adjustable height and roller caster options.

Crucially it doesnt include a back support so lounging isnt an option but this feature makes it easier work from different positions ultimately reducing muscle tiredness and tension normally experienced at the end of the work day.Final Thoughts

Whilst appearances wise sitting cross-legged at work might seem a little new-age its a strikingly effective and simple way to combat office fatigue.

To that end when weighing up all of the pros and cons it seems that if youre willing to put in even a little time training your muscles to sitting in this traditional manner then the benefits reaped by your work will be well worth the investment.Similar PostsHow Many Days Before An Exam Should I Study?

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