W-sitting is when a child sits on the floor with their feet to the side of their hips, while keeping the knees together. Looking at the child from above, the legs create a W shape. W-sitting can be detrimental to a child’s physical health and developmental growth. Therefore, W-sitting might require child therapy.
When a child sits in the W position, the legs are not crossed over the midline of the body as they do when seated with the legs crisscrossed.
Many children with sensory processing disorder
have difficulty crossing midline (the imaginary line down the middle of your body creating a right and left side) so they might resort to W-sitting. Also, W-sitting requires less muscular strength and makes it easier for the child to balance while playing. For children with low muscle tone, W-sitting makes it more comfortable to play on the floor because it allows the child to avoid using a lot of energy on maintaining balance.
Low Muscle Tone Definition
Low muscle tone
is caused by elongated muscles. This causes problems for the muscle fibers to attach and produce a pull on the muscle. Therefore, physical activities can be straining on a person with low muscle tone. It takes more energy to trigger the contraction of the muscle, and therefore people with low muscle tone become tired easily and can develop poor posture. They are at higher risk for injuries, poor persistence with gross motor task, and lack of body awareness.
If a child is W-sitting for short periods of time or when switching to a new position, then W-sitting is not a concern. If a child prefers to sit in a W shape all the time, it is a cause for concern. Stability in the trunk and hips may decrease if a child is persistently sitting in this manner. It causes children to have more shallow hip sockets, which can cause severe problems in the future. It also creates tightness in the hamstrings, hip adductors, internal rotators, and the Achilles tendons. W-sitting adds an excessive amount of pressure to the hips, knees, and feet, which can lead to orthopedic issues later in life.
When your child sits in the W- position, encourage him or her to sit cross-legged
, long sit (legs straight in front), side sit (legs bent to one side), or sit in a chair instead. If you notice your child W sitting frequently a consultation with an occupational therapist
would be advised. Occupational therapists help children develop strength and endurance through structured, fun activities. Once a child builds more strength and balance, they will have an easier time adjusting to different positions.
If you have additional questions relating to W sitting, balance and strength you may contact us at Step by Step Care Group
for more information.
Kid Sense Developing a Bright Future. Kid Sense Child Development Corporation, n.d. Web. 22 July 2015.
Melissa. "W-Sitting: Fix or Forget?" Childrens Therapy Center PSC. Children's Therapy Center, n.d. Web. 22 July 2015.
Stephanie. "Why My Child Does W Sitting." Mama & Baby Love. N.p., 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 July 2015.