Can W Sitting Harm Your Child?

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Many children favor to W sit because it provides a wide base of support and allows the child to play without challenging their balance or engaging their trunk musculature. You may see pediatric physical therapist say “fix your feet.” Parents and caregivers may be thinking “What’s wrong with W sitting?”

What is W sitting?

  • W sitting is when a child plops down on the floor with their bottom between their legs, knees bent and rotated away from their body in the shape of a W.

What’s wrong with W sitting?

  • Decreased core strength: W sitting position provides children with wider base of support in which children compensate due to core and back weakness. It is important for children to be able to weight shift and rotate at their trunk in order to develop proper balance reactions, develop postural control, ability to cross midline, and attain developmental milestones.
  • Muscle tightness: W sitting position allows for increased risk of hamstring contracting due to positioning. This can also affect the child’s spine curvature due to the pull of the hamstring on the spine. The hip rotators are also at risk to become tight for children who prefer W sitting. Muscle tightness can lead to imbalance, impaired coordination, and gross motor delay as a child ages, limiting their ability to perform activities such as galloping and skipping.
  • Orthopedic problems with lower extremities: W sitting can cause orthopedic problems with hips, knee, and ankles including hip dislocation, knee instability, “knock knee position,” and “pigeon toe.” Pigeon toe walking may increase the child’s chance of back or pelvic pain as they grow.
  • Lack of bilateral coordination: W sitting position inhibits ability for trunk rotation leading to inability to cross midline. This is turn effects handwriting, object manipulation, fine motor skills, and other extracurricular activities.

How to correct W sitting?

  • Tailor sitting (legs criss cross)
  • Long sitting (legs straight out in front)
  • Ring sitting
  • Side sitting (legs bent at the knees with both knees facing either left side or right side)
  • Kneeling
  • Small chair or stool

Learn more about Ochsner Therapy and Wellness for Children.

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