What’s up with W-sitting?
What’s W Sitting? W sitting is a common position that young children will sit in. This position is named after the shape their legs form when viewed from above.
Knees are together in-front of the body, feet are to the side and behind the body. Creating the W shape. This creates a large fixed base of support for the child while sitting.
Why is this bad?
1. Encourages the continuance of muscle weakness.
The large fixed support base makes it easier for children to remain sitting upright, even if they have weak muscles and poor core stability. So why is this bad? Instead of developing their postural muscles the child is hanging off their bone structures. This habit leads to further weakness as they lose opportunities to build their strength.
2. Reduces mid-line crossing.
Having the fixed base reduces the mobility of the child’s trunk reducing their ability to twist and turn, and lean from side to side, making it more difficult for them to reach across their body to play with objects or complete activities . In young children development of mid-line crossing is an essential skill helping to develop hand dominance.
3. Damages physical structures of the child’s body.
W-sitting can lead to tightening of the hips, can impact on the child’s knees. Consider how many hours your child will sit over the course of their schooling preschool and primary school where many activities and learning sessions are conducted on the floor. Hundreds of hours in this position can place excessive strain on the hips and knees and can lead to permanent changes.
What can I do to help my child / students?
1. Provide gentle promoting and encouragement to sit in other positions. Cross legged, long sitting, kneeling, or sitting on a chair or exercise ball, even standing to complete activities at an appropriate height.
2. Encourage your child / students to change positions and include movement in your activities.
3. Play games and engage in activities that develop postural muscles. If you notice your child has muscular weakness or poor posture please discuss a specific program with your occupational therapist or physiotherapist .