What to Do About Your Knee Pain When Sitting Cross Legged

As more people start working from home, chances are they’re going to be spending more time sitting on their butt. Additionally, if your home office isn’t as ergonomic as it is makeshift, odds are you’re moving from the couch to the kitchen table to the floor, trying to find a position that makes sense.

The thing is, sitting in some positions can cause misalignment, which can cause potential issues with your body and result in pain. You probably already know that hunching forward, leaning back, and slouching are all bad sitting positions, but did you know sitting cross legged is bad too?

Kids can sit cross legged all the time, but that doesn’t mean that this knee-twisting position is great for the average adult. This article will discuss what you should do about knee pain when sitting cross legged and why it occurs.

Why Knee Pain When Sitting Cross Legged Occurs

First things first: if you don’t experience knee pain when sitting cross legged, you can continue to sit that way as long as you like. This position is said to have major benefits for your overall mobility and can even make your joints limber – just don’t sit like that all day long.

Sitting cross legged can add some variety to your daily movement patterns and, because of this, can help improve your range of motion in your hip joint and knee joint. However, you need to remember that not everyone’s body is built the same way. If you notice any pain or knee discomfort when sitting cross legged, you need to stop sitting that way and learn better sitting posture because it can exacerbate any pre-existing knee issues.

Why does knee pain when sitting cross legged occur? When you hold a joint in a bent position over an extended period, fluids can start to build, causing pain and swelling. Depending on what’s wrong with your knee, the twisting and bending associated with sitting cross legged can cause a meniscus tear.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your meniscus is a rubbery piece of cartilage that’s shaped like a C that helps cushion the space located between your thighbone and your shinbone. If you have a torn meniscus, then the knee pain when sitting cross legged can be unbearable.

What to Do About Your Knee Pain When Sitting Cross Legged

knee pain when sitting cross legged

If you don’t have any knee pain when sitting cross legged for extended periods won’t cause any issues with your knees if you only do it occasionally.

Even with healthy knees, you might experience minor knee pain when cross legged sitting in the form of knee stiffness. When this happens, we suggest doing the following movements before you stand up to help get rid of some of that knee stiffness and pain.

  1. Gently and slowly bend and then straighten your knees to get your joints moving
  2. Do five ankle circles in both directions. Ankle circles will help with blood flow and get your knees and lower legs warmed up
  3. After doing the ankle circles, rotate your whole leg in and out at the hip socket to start rotation and movement below and above your knee
  4. Finally, straighten your legs fully and gently squeeze your quads to lift your kneecap from the floor. Hold this squeeze for about five seconds, then release. Repeat this at least three times

Knee Pain and Under Desk Bikes

Under desk bikes are extremely popular, but you have to make sure that your desk bike ergonomics are correct or risk injury to your knees. There are several ergonomic traps that you can find yourself in if you don’t set up your desk to avoid repetitive strain injuries, knee discomfort, and lower back pain.

The biggest complaint amongst under desk bike users is banging their knees against the bottom of their desks. If you don’t have enough clearance under your desk, you can expect this to happen and for some sore kneecaps.

If you’re pedaling in an office chair that has wheels, the pressure of your pedaling can cause your chair to roll backward, which will take you further away from the under-desk bike and your desk. Instead of grasping at your keyboard, ensure that your wheels have been stabilized.

There’s a learning curve to biking and working. Some users find it difficult to bike and work because biking takes a conscious effort to keep pedaling. Things get better with practice but remember that biking isn’t as natural of a movement as walking is for our bodies.


Knee pain when sitting cross legged can cause severe knee pain because when your joints hold a position for a long time, fluid can build, which causes swelling and pain. If you don’t notice knee pain when sitting cross legged, then you can continue to sit that way so long as you stop as soon as you start to notice any pain.

There are things that you can do to prevent cross legged knee pain. For example, you can do the ankle circles we described above to help get your blood flowing and warm up your knees and legs. If you follow all those movements, you’ll find that you feel a lot better.

If you’re someone who likes to bike and work, this can cause knee pain as well. So, ensure that you’re following good biking ergonomics and ensuring that you have enough room under your desk to pedal and that your wheels are stabilized.

Knee pain when sitting cross legged is very common, but that doesn’t mean it has to stop you from sitting the way you want. If you’re careful, you can sit cross legged and be fine. But if you start to notice extreme pain that won’t go away with the movements we talked about, you might want to consider stopping.

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