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Can crossing my legs give me varicose veins?

There’s a common belief that crossing your legs can lead to varicose veins: the enlarged, blue or purple veins that often develop just below the skin in our legs. Varicose veins are caused by damage to the valves in the legs that help the blood get back up to our hearts. But it turns out that this is a myth: there’s no evidence that crossing your legs has anything to do with varicose veins.

In fact, you’re more likely to develop varicose veins if you spend a lot of time standing up. If you have to stay standing for long periods it’s worth keeping the blood flowing, through simple leg and ankle exercises and walking around regularly. The factors which most influence your risk of developing varicose veins, are things you can’t control: genetics, height and age (and also pregnancy – when varicose veins are probably the least of your worries).

Whilst crossing your legs may not affect your risk of getting varicose veins, there is a chance that it could be a small factor in a far more serious condition - deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. DVTs occur deep inside the body and can lead to a blood clot. They are usually associated with being immobile for a long period, such as sitting on a long haul flight, and some researchers believe that crossing your legs – particularly if you’ve just had surgery – can give you an increased risk of getting a DVT. Strong evidence to support this has yet to be established but it won’t do any harm to keep your legs uncrossed, just in case.

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