Is "W" sitting bad? What are some solutions for "W" sitting?
What is wrong with "W" sitting?
"W" sitting is not generally considered a normal pattern of sitting. However, whether intervention is required depends on a number of variables and the overall development of your child.
"W" sitting may contribute to pigeon toed walking (toeing in), altered development of the hip (femoral anteversion), sway back posture, weak trunk and core muscles, and tight hamstrings.
If your child frequently sits in a "W" pose and you notice any of the following, you should consult a healthcare practitioner.
- Develops a limp
- Has a weakness in the lower extremities
- Has a pigeon-toed gait
- Has low muscle tone or weak core strength (slumping over in a chair)
- Unable to sit in any position but a "W"
- Seems clumsy or uncoordinated
- Has trouble with fine motor tasks
Alternatives Sitting Options
Some children may respond well to a hands-on cue such as lightly tapping their legs while others may respond better to verbal prompting such as "please adjust your legs." Whatever the cue is, it's important to prevent the "W" position from developing into a pattern to avoid bigger issues in the future.
A common position for children where they sit with their feet crossed and knees apart. You can also try using the phrase "criss-cross applesauce."
In this position, both knees are bent and the entire body weight is shift to one hip with both feet out to the same side. This position allows for easy transition in and out of sitting. Encourage sitting on both the right and left sides (hips) to promote equal development.
Feet are straight out in front of the child. The back may or may not be supported with the back against a wall or steady surface.
Children sit back against their heels in a folded kneeling position with their feet tucked together under their bottom. This is a great way to strengthen hip and core muscles, as long as your child doesn't shift back into the "W" position.
Children position themselves with one foot tucked under their bottom and the other foot flat on the ground. In this neutral position, muscles will be active and get a gentle stretch. Be sure to encourage half kneeling on both sides.
This is a great way to stabilize the core and activate the quads, glutes, and hamstrings to increase overall strength.
If a child is struggling with sitting in the above position, sitting in a low chair will still allow them to participate in play. Time in this position should be limited to encourage muscle activation.
Games That Can Help
Bum Scoot Races
Sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front of your body, bottom shuffle by lifting one side of your bottom off the floor and moving forward. Alternate from side to side to propel your body forward. Make it race with everyone in the family, even mama's and dada's can participate!
Seated Marches on a Exercise Ball
While sitting on a large exercise ball, alternate lifting legs off the floor as if your marching. You can also ask the child to reach for things with their toes or lay on the ball with their tummy and reach out with their hands. Encourage your child to reach out for heavy and light object at different distances, across the midline, and at different heights. This helps to strengthen their tummy and trunk muscles.
Try reading with your child while they sit with their bottom and back against the wall and their legs out in front of them. You can also make it a fun game - while sitting with their bottoms and backs against the wall, ask them to reach up and touch the sky and then bend all the way forward to touch their toes while keeping their legs straight.
-Dr. Adrienne Cascioli