Watch young kids play and you’ll see many of them ‘W sitting’, or resting their bottom between their feet, legs to either side. ‘W sitting’ is a commonly used position by children. In this position, children sit on their bottoms, with their knees bent, feet tucked under, and their legs splayed out to the side in what looks like a “W”. This is a standard sitting position because children feel supported and secure.
However, while this may seem comfortable and secure, many Parents do not know or recognize the danger of letting a child sit like this for too long.
Dr. Sangeeta Laskar, Senior Consultant Physiotherapist & Ergonomist, explains, What it is and why you should correct it?
Why do children W-sit?
It’s by far the steadiest way for children of all ages to sit and play. Children often rely on this position for added trunk and hip stability to allow easier play with their toys in front.
What’s wrong with W-sitting?
Sitting in a “W” position for too long can negatively impact a child’s development and growth patterns. Some of the problems that arise are:
- Orthopaedic Problems
- Delayed Development of Postural Control and Stability
- Delayed Development of Refined Motor Skills
What are the common complications of W sitting?
One of the largest concerns about W sitting is that it can cause long-term orthopedic and back problems.Particularly in children, it is necessary to strengthen the back muscles while sitting. This strengthening occurs in most seated positions.
However, W sitting allows the body to collapse in on itself, depriving the child of the strong back muscles that will prevent back pain and back problems later in life.
Trouble in Developing Motor Skills
W sitting can also discourage a child from developing a hand preference due to the restricted trunk rotation in this position. In this position, the child tends to simply pick up objects on the right with the right hand, and those placed to the left with the left hand.
This restricted trunk movement can be detrimental to developing traditional motor skills.
Shortened or tightened and lengthen muscles
If there is muscle tightness, W-sitting will aggravate it. This position places the hamstrings, hip adductors, internal rotators and heel cords in an extremely shortened range. If a child is prone to tightness or contractures(a permanent shortening of a muscle or joint.), encourage another pattern of sitting.
Hip Dislocation is very common in W` sitting, especially if there is history of HIP DYSPLASIA (Hip drop), some children may have hip drop from birth itself(congenital), those children are strictly monitored not to sit in W` sitting.
W` sitting will have a serious impact on child walking also. Scissoring Gait or Cross leg gait, waldling gait (Duck), mostly happens due to muscular shortening. Also visible in children with cerebral palsy .
Deformity on spine(Posture variation)
In` W` sitting there will be possibility of Round back Posture(Kyphoscoliosis).Which is a symptoms in a Mal developed or immature child.
Sometimes this posture variation may occur due to child Habitual sitting, to act fantasy like adult sitting.
What do I prevent my child for W- sitting ?
The most effective (and easiest) way to prevent a problem with W-sitting is to prevent it from becoming a habit it the first place. Anticipate and catch it before your child even learns to W-sit and encourage alternate ways to sitting – side sitting, long sitting or sitting on a stool.
When playing with your child on the floor, hold the knees and feet together when kneeling or creeping on hands and knees. It will be impossible for your child to get into a W-position from there. It will force your child to either sit to one side, or sit back on their feet. These patterns demand a certain amount of trunk rotation and lateral weight shift and should fit with a child’s therapy goals.