What is “W” sitting?
We have all seen a flexible little toddler, concentrating deeply on a floor activity with legs akimbo and knees turned in.
And probably not given it a thought.
“W” sitting is defined as when a child sits spreading her hips with her bottom on the floor, the knees bent, and the feet behind. If you look at the child from above you will see that the legs have made a “W” shape.
Children most frequently do this because it gives them a wider base of support and keeps their center of gravity lower. It gives them increased stability, especially for a child with a weak core or weak hips.
Why, you may ask, is this a problem?
- It does not allow the child to effectively weight shift side to side which can delay motor skills as it confines the child to playing only in midline
- It can cause uneven shortening and lengthening of hip muscles creating imbalance in this area leading to strength and gait issues
- There is some research that shows children who “W”-sit are more prone to having flat feet
- It can promote poor alignment of the spine creating a “c” curve instead of an “s” curve
- Hip dislocation is a possibility especially if hip dysplasia has been diagnosed
What steps can you take if your child is spending a lot of time “W” sitting?
- Encourage other sitting positions
- Long sitting: sitting on buttocks with legs straight out
- Side sitting: sitting with both legs bent to one side
- Pretzel, Criss-Cross or Tailor sitting: “criss cross apple sauce”
- Butterfly pose, the “tall kneel” and tummy time are also helpful
- Sitting on a low stool with hips/knees/ankles at 90/90/90 degrees
- Work on core strength
The links below have more information about “W” sitting and strategies to correct it. You can also visit Bacharach’s pediatrics page for information about pediatric physical therapy.