Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:35 am

My problem is, after sitting about 30 minutes my left leg get really numb. I feel scared it will cause health issues.

Do you have this problem? I don't like walking meditation because i don't have enough space. I don't want to get used to sitting on chairs because i fall asleep. too comfortable. I sit in semi lotus like position.

Do you have any tips to overcome the leg numb issue pls?

thanks
:anjali:
User avatar
BlueLotus
 
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:46 am

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby cooran » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:40 am

Hello BlueLotus,

This might be of interest:

Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana
CHAPTER 10 DEALING WITH PROBLEMS
Legs Going To Sleep
It is very common for beginners to have their legs fall asleep or go numb during meditation. They are simply not accustomed to the cross-legged posture. Some people get very anxious about this. They feel they must get up and move around. A few are completely convinced that they will get gangrene from lack of circulation. Numbness in the leg is nothing to worry about. It is caused by nerve-pinch, not by lack of circulation. You can't damage the tissues of your legs by sitting. So relax. When your legs fall asleep in meditation, just mindfully observe the phenomenon. Examine what it feels like. It may be sort of uncomfortable, but it is not painful unless you tense up. Just stay calm and watch it. It does not matter if your legs go numb and stay that way for the whole period. After you have meditated for some time, that numbness gradually will disappear. Your body simply adjusts to daily practice. Then you can sit for very long sessions with no numbness whatever.
http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/min ... ish_12.php

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7394
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:45 am

Daily stretching can greatly mitigate this pain, as can a meditation bench, additional cushion, or other seating adjustment.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4076
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:50 am

I generally find this is caused by a cushion that is too hard, or trousers too stiff.

Either way it's not a big deal, unless you have to get up in a hurry and don't have time to let the numbness subside.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1874
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby santa100 » Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:22 pm

Let you body slowly adapt and build up the tolerance for numbness. Say, if after 30 minutes, you start feeling the numbness, then try to stay a few extra minute before you get out of the lotus posture. Then a few more minutes for the next session, a few more for the third session, so on and so forth.. The body is very flexible and adaptive. Just make sure to not to wear tight pants, use proper cushion, exercise, and most importantly, proceed gradually and steadily..
santa100
 
Posts: 1506
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:55 am

Thank you :anjali:
User avatar
BlueLotus
 
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:46 am

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby chownah » Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:11 am

For most people numb legs will disappear in a short period of time. My advise is when you notice the numbness to stretch the legs enough so it goes away. You can do this while meditating or if you want just end the session early. Don't worry about ending early....the numbness will go away in a few weeks. In the mean time do an extra session to cover the time lost from leg numbness and if you want do the extra session in a chair or walking......meditation is not a race....no need to inflict any more uncomfortableness than is necessary.

Also do be aware that soreness in the knees is sometimes reported in beginning meditators and this should be taken with a bit of seriousness. Some people have stiff knees and can cause a condition of soreness in the knees from over stressing the knees in a cross legged posture....this condition can be long lasting and so one should proceed with caution if one notices soreness in the knees....don't overdo it....use other postures.....approach the cross legged postures slowly at first if necessary and for some they must be avoided altogether....don't worry.....leg crossing is not necessary but it is for most people beneficial.....the older you get the greater the liklihood of having troubles from the cross legged postures especially if starting meditation later in life......whatever that means...
chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2579
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby Ben » Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:07 am

I usually sit in a basic cross-legged or Burmese posture. Its less stressful than half-lotus.
Don't be obsessive with maintaining your posture.
I believe its best not to move at all, but if you have to, then do so.
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15974
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:57 am

Ben wrote:I usually sit in a basic cross-legged or Burmese posture


I did. But not stable and I tend to fall over when I am in meditation. I also fall asleep. Then I told a teacher he said lotus or half lotus is more stable. So now i am trying half lotus. Yesterday i notice it is more stable as he said but hard to stay like that long
User avatar
BlueLotus
 
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:46 am

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:19 pm

BlueLotus wrote:My problem is, after sitting about 30 minutes my left leg get really numb. I feel scared it will cause health issues.

Do you have this problem? I don't like walking meditation because i don't have enough space. I don't want to get used to sitting on chairs because i fall asleep. too comfortable. I sit in semi lotus like position.

Do you have any tips to overcome the leg numb issue pls?

thanks
:anjali:

Hi BlueLotus,

I sit in half lotus too, changing legs from time to time... anyway the leg on top always gets numb after about 30min, sometimes it hurts, sometimes it gets so numb that I totally loose sense of it. When it hurts too much I mindfully change legs, most of the time I sit through still. After sitting I walk a few minutes or stretch, then everything is fine. I noticed that the better I set my sitting position from the beginning, I allow myself to move a bit for a few minutes finding the most suitable position for the body to relax before sitting still, the less my leg hurts or gets numb. Some people told me that it will go away some time... it didn't... but I don't consider it a "problem" anymore so for me it doesn't matter.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
User avatar
acinteyyo
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:48 am
Location: Neuburg/Donau, Germany

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby Vepacitta » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:22 am

I have to sit on my coffee tabe Z(pefect height) - I have bursitis in my hips and sitting cross legged - no matter how many cushions I use - results in intense pain that affects my walking about. Last time I tried cross legged practise on a regular basis I was in pain for months.

Interestingly, Catholic meditators - I'm thinking of the Carmelites specifically, sit 'normally' and achieve deep contemplative states.

V.
I'm your friendly, neighbourhood Asura
User avatar
Vepacitta
 
Posts: 299
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 3:58 pm
Location: Somewhere on the slopes of Mt. Meru

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:36 am

Vepacitta wrote:Interestingly, Catholic meditators - I'm thinking of the Carmelites specifically, sit 'normally' and achieve deep contemplative states.


It worked for the ancient Egyptians, too.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4076
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Legs get really numb - will it damage my legs?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:49 pm

Hi BlueLotus, despite what other people say, I don't think that the numbness just disappears by itself. That is not due to the legs becoming used to it... they're just positioned in a way where they don't become numb.

(Sorry if the following makes you feel queasy.) There is a bundle of nerve that runs down from the spine to the back of each legs, called sciatic nerve... google it to see the anatomy. I think that many people, when they sit, end up compressing this nerve just past the sitting bones. (Also google this, they're the bottom two points of your pelvis bone... which are seated on a ground when the pelvis bone is aligned straight up.)

You can easily avoid the numbness by sitting on a bare ground (which requires the flexibility around the hip joints though, but not impossible)... but with a cushion, it's a bit challenging. You want to sit on it in a way where the nerve doesn't end up compressed. Most teachers say that you do this by sitting right on the edge of cushion, just at the sitting bones, instead of on your thighs.

You'll just have to experiment with it. I found out that when I sit in a Burmese position, if my left leg (which I broke a couple years, in an unrelated incident) wasn't placed to the left far enough, it would end up numb. If it was placed far enough, then there's no numbness. That is only a couple millimeter difference. The way that I sit, the heel of each foot is almost right in front of each other.

In half-lotus, it's a bit more challenging. I think that you should be able to sit in Burmese style with both of the knees touching the ground (it's possible, and very easy to do once you have the flexibility), before doing the half-lotus. The flexibility in the hip joint is very important, and make sure that the bottom of your lower foot (especially the heel bone) isn't pressing too hard against the bottom of your opposite thigh, which would end up compressing the nerve.

It's also helpful, after placing the leg in half-lotus, to push off the ground a little bit, and then rotate the hip joint to loosen it up (also raising and lowering the knee several times, to loosen the hip joint), before setting the sitting bone back on the cushion. The half-lotus will feel much more comfortable. Throughout your meditation, make sure that the muscles around that joint don't tense up too much... pay attention, and let go any of tension that builds up there; keep it relaxed.

I think that half-lotus is definitely worth learning. It takes much less effort to sit straight up than in Burmese position (though it's also easy in the latter, once you learn how). You really need to develop good flexibility for it... do some stretches daily, especially around the hamstrings (you only need to do this gently)... I just figured this out by experimenting. Or else it's too uncomfortable, and you'll risk hurting yourself.

I only started sitting regularly around six months ago... my left knee was way up off the ground (in Burmese position), because of my broken leg. Around few months later, I could sit with both knees on the ground. And now, I can sit in half-lotus with my right leg (for around an hour)... but haven't tried that with my left leg, yet. I only try to sit in half-lotus with that one for around 15 or so minutes.

:anjali:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm


Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Alex123, Google [Bot] and 5 guests