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"W-sitting": Causes, risks and prevention tips

W Sitting
3 minutes, 29 seconds

W-sitting is a sitting position that is most prevalent in young children. Kids who engage in this position will appear to have both of their knees splayed out to their sides in a bent position and with their legs lying on either side of them on the ground, like the shape of the letter W. There are several issues with this position, so keep reading to learn exactly why this pose is so problematic for your child.

Why do kids use the W-sitting position?

Young children tend to sit in this position because they haven’t yet developed enough in certain muscle groups. Children who are still developing their core strength and strength, posture and mobility in their hips are the most likely to sit this way. However, as children develop in these areas, they typically move away from this sitting position

What are some problems associated with W-sitting?

If your child only occasionally sits in this position, they are less likely to develop any of the long-term problems W-sitting can lead to. However, there are a number of issues that can occur when children are sitting in the W-sitting position regularly. 

Some of these may include:

  • Increased risk of hip dislocation in hip dysplasia patients — Hip dysplasia occurs when the socket in the pelvis is too shallow. As a result, it can’t support the ball of the femur (upper leg bone) properly. W-sitting causes the hips to rotate inward. This can occur to the point that a hip dislocation is more likely in children with hip dysplasia or other joint issues. 
  • Increased risk of developing orthopedic problems — Children who sit in this position too often are more likely to develop tightness in the hamstrings and hip adductor muscles. Tight hamstrings can also affect the mobility and development of the Achilles tendon. Tightness in these muscles can also make it harder for children to move normally, which can affect the development of their balance and coordination.
  • Increased likelihood of bilateral coordination issues — W-sitting isn’t typically a cause of bilateral coordination problems, but it can be one sign of them. Sitting in this position may be a sign that a child is avoiding reaching across their body. The reason? The W-sitting position makes it harder for a child to perform this movement. Instead, the child may reach for things on their right side with their right hand only and vice versa.

How can W-sitting be prevented?

The risks associated with this condition can be prevented with the help of an experienced pediatric physical therapist. Physical therapists can work with your child to teach them ergonomic tips as well as proper sitting techniques and postures. During regular PT sessions, your child will soon build the strength and flexibility needed to support themselves without using the wrong sitting position.

The PT sessions that your child attends may include: 

  • Therapeutic exercises — The exercises your child performs during their PT sessions will be chosen for their specific needs by a pediatric physical therapist. Their exercise program will be designed to help them build strength. It can also be used to help them stretch out the tight muscles that too much W-sitting can lead to. 
  • Posture training — Your child’s physical therapist will also help your child learn about proper posture in a wide variety of sitting and standing positions. Some of the sitting positions the specialist may focus on in your child’s sessions include criss-cross sitting, side-sitting and long-sitting. 
  • Education in alternative positions to sitting — Sitting isn’t the only way your child can be close to what they’re playing with or working on. Physical therapists can show them how to kneel and squat as alternatives to sitting. They can also ensure that your child is kneeling or squatting properly and take steps to address any issues with these alternative positions.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch pediatric PT for your child

Does your child need help with musculoskeletal issues linked to too much W-sitting? At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people (including kids) get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you get the effective pediatric PT your child needs. 

Not keen on your child attending in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your child’s needs.

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