Many women have been told that sitting cross-legged will cause varicose veins. The theory behind this myth is that sitting in this position compresses certain arteries in the legs and calves causing undue pressure on the veins. While it’s true that vein pressure plays a role in causing varicose veins, it’s not likely to be caused by the way you sit.
What are Varicose Veins?
When a person stands up one-way valves located in the veins must work against gravity to pump blood to the heart. It’s when these valve mechanisms fail that varicose veins begin to form.
When a valve fails, added blood volume is passed on to the next vein creating a domino effect type of reaction. This will eventually cause excess vein pressure which causes additional valve failures, resulting in enlarged and conspicuous veins.
Causes of Varicose Veins
Although sitting with your legs crossed is not likely to contribute to the formation of varicose veins, there are several risk factors associated with their development.
- Aging. As people age, their veins lose some of their elasticity which affects the efficiency of the vein valves.
- Pregnancy. In a normal pregnancy, the volume of blood in a woman’s body is increased. At the same time, the flow of blood from the legs to the pelvis is decreased. This change is intended to sustain and support a growing fetus, but unfortunately it can also be a contributing factor to the development of varicose veins.
- Gender. Females are much more likely to develop varicose veins because female hormones relax vein walls.
Varicose veins are not caused by crossing your legs while sitting. They are more likely to occur because of pregnancy, female hormones, or as a part of normal aging.