Correcting W-Sitting in Your Child

April 27, 2018 | By | Reply

Children sit and play in various positions. One of the positions we see frequently is call “W-sitting” – The position in which a child is sitting on their bottom with both knees bent and their legs turned out away from their body. If you look at the child from above, his or her legs will be in the shape of the letter “W.” This is considered normal when the child is young (under age of 2). While w-sitting can be a completely normal part of development for kids, it can also be a sign of an underlying developmental issue.

W sitting position

Many children prefer to sit in this position in order to make up for weaknesses they may have in their hips and trunk. The added stability of this position allows the child to play with toys in an upright sitting position without worrying about falling over. Problems from this position arise when the child sits in this way for an extended period of time.

Risk of W-Sitting:

  • W-sitting increases a child’s base of support which prevents a child from developing the proper core strength (strong abdominal muscles) and balance to develop certain gross motor skills such as jumping and running.
  • It increases the risk of tightness in the muscles of the legs, hips, and ankles as well as possible hip dislocation. In turn, this can cause children to walk with their toes turned in (“pigeon-toed”). This can then negatively affect their coordination, balance and the development of gross motor skills.
  • In W position, children are unable to rotate their upper body, therefore making it difficult for the child to reach across the midline. This affects bilateral motor coordination, which in turn affects their ability to perform writing skills and other table-top activities important in school
  • It also affects the development of a hand preference
  • W sitting makes it difficult for the child to shift their weight from one side of their body to the other, which is important in standing balance and when developing the ability to run and jump
  • W sitting does not allow the child to develop strong trunk and core muscles.

How to Prevent It:

If you see a child with W Sitting, try encouraging them to sit and explore other positions such as:

  • Long sitting
  • Side sitting
  • Cross leg or tailor sitting
  • Sitting on a small bench

These positions allow a child to use both hands at the same time and help them to shift their weight from side to side more easily. It helps the child to sit more erect using their trunk and core muscles. It is important that you consistently make this correction when you see a child in W sitting.

After consistently encouraging the child to use various other positions, but the child still prefer to sit in W sitting, you can get him evaluated by a pediatric physiotherapist.

Physiotherapists can:

  • guide you with different sitting positions
  • exercise to improve muscle flexibility of tight muscles
  • strengthening of weak abdominal muscles.

If there is a need for further investigations physiotherapist can refer you to pediatric orthopedic.

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