Why leg crossing? The influence of common postures on abdominal muscle activity

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1995 Sep 15;20(18):1989-93.


Study design: Abdominal muscle activity is recorded in the supine position, unconstrained standing, and in the sitting position on an office chair with the use of backrest and armrests, with and without crossed legs.

Objectives: To assess the role of oblique abdominal muscles in relation to the stability of lumbar spine and pelvis in commonly adopted unconstrained postures.

Summary of background data: Cross-legged sitting is very common for men and women. No solid evidence exists for either a beneficial or a detrimental effect of this posture. No electromyographic study deals with the activity of abdominal muscles in this commonly adopted unconstrained posture.

Methods: In healthy subjects, electromyographic activity of the rectus abdomini and external and internal oblique abdominals was recorded bilaterally during commonly adopted unconstrained postures.

Results: The activity of the internal oblique muscle was significantly higher in the sitting position than in supine position. For the external and internal oblique abdominals, the activity was significantly higher in the standing position than in the sitting position. When sitting, the activity of the oblique abdominals is significantly lowered by crossing the legs in the preferred way (either upper legs cross or ankle on knee). In contrast, the activity of the rectus abdominis is not significantly altered by leg crossing.

Conclusions: From these remarkable findings, we conclude that leg crossing is physiologically valuable. It should be studied whether leg crossing can be implemented in the design of the workplace.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Posture / physiology*