Knee pain when sitting cross legged. Sitting cross-legged hurts the knee. Noting that the most important cause of knee pain is the wear of the cartilage under the knee, experts say that sitting with the knee bent or sitting cross-legged causes irreversible damage to the knee. (See below for more on this.)
What causes knee pain when sitting with the knee bent?
“Sit on your left thigh or vice versa. See which one feels better.
Garrett, The Knee Specialist
It is important to note that knee pain can occur with just a single standing or sitting position – when sitting or standing, the knee can bend or move at any time during the day or night.
Therefore, even if someone is never sitting cross-legged, but their legs move every time they walk, the knee may still be affected.
What are the consequences of sitting cross-legged?
In the U.S., the joint pain or inflammation from sitting cross-legged is called osteoarthritis (OA) or articular cartilage damage (ARC). OA is the name given to the degenerative changes in the cartilage that develop when the cartilage wears down over time.
The bone grows and shrinks with age. The cartilage can eventually disintegrate and become exposed in the knee joint.
There are many ways in which sitting cross-legged can cause OA. One is from the leg swinging forward while the body is upright. Another cause is when the muscles that create the movement relax too quickly, causing the muscles to become stiff. This can also cause knee pain.
Osteoarthritis can be treated in the knee, but it is likely that the pain will go away once the knee is restored to the normal position. In a good MRI exam, the doctor or lab technician can see if the bones and cartilage have been damaged.
What is the best way to prevent knee pain when sitting?
The best way to prevent knee pain when sitting with the knee bent is to allow your knees to stay in the neutral position (don’t lean back or twist your knees). When sitting, place your knees in a position that allows the weight of your body to sit directly on your knees.
What about sitting with the knees flexed?
If you are sitting cross-legged and have the knee flexed, the knee pain can cause it to move. The muscles in the knee and hip that keep the body upright and prevent it from twisting are the same muscles that are responsible for keeping your knees straight when sitting.
If your knees flex and your body leans back during your sitting, there will likely be a significant increase in stiffness in your knee joint. If you are not sitting with your knees relaxed or your knees flexed, the amount of cartilage wear on your knee will increase so much that it may cause joint damage.
What about knee pain when sitting cross-legged at a table?
A person’s anatomy may influence how much pain they experience. If a person sits on their left or right leg, their leg muscles may move in their knee when they sit. These muscles do not relax when they sit with the knee bent.
If you are a long-distance runner or have high knees, a person might find that their knee pain tends to happen in the last half of their runs – the half where they’re sitting in a neutral position. In this position, the muscles in the knee and hip should be relaxed, and there should be minimal risk of knee pain.
A person’s weight affects the level and location of the joint in the knee. When you sit cross-legged, the weight of your body tends to press on the cartilage. If your body is heavy, your legs tend to bend toward the floor, and vice versa. This can cause your knee to move when you sit.
If you sit cross-legged, your body also tends to lean forward when you sit, but there is no real risk of your knee to move back. In fact, if you tilt your knees upward while sitting and then lean back in the direction of your weight, there is no real chance that your knee will move in the direction that the weight is pushing on it.
What should I do if I think I have knee pain from sitting cross-legged?
If you think that you may have knee pain from sitting cross-legged, it may be time to seek medical help from a doctor or athletic trainer.
The first thing to do is find out if it is OA. If this is the case, a pain specialist could help you to treat it. If it is not OA, do not try to help it. The main thing to do is continue to sit in a neutral position.