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What is the W-Sitting Position?
The W-positions is one of many sitting positions that most children move into and out of while playing, but it’s a four-letter word to some parents. Why is it presumed to be ok for some children and forbidden for others?
When playing in these other sitting postures, children develop the trunk control and rotation necessary for midline crossing (reaching across the body) and separation of the two sides of the body. These skills are needed for a child to develop refined motor skills and hand dominance.
W-sitting is not recommended for anyone. Many typically developing children do move through this position during play, but all parents should be aware that the excessive use of this position during the growing years can lead to future orthopedic problems.
Why W-Sitting Can Lead to Future Problems
According to a vast majority of physical therapists, there are several key reasons why:
- W-sitting limits core strength because it gives kids a wider base of support. Because they don’t have to engage their abdominal or back muscles in this position, kids often prefer it to more challenging, tiring positions, like with legs in front, at their sides, or crisscrossed.
- W-sitting causes muscle tightness, particularly in the legs and hips but also knees and ankles.
- W-sitting aggravates neurological issues such as low muscle tone, which means when kids aren’t actively using their muscles, those muscles are floppier and softer and have a harder time holding their bodies upright.
Why do some kids sit like this? It’s by far the steadiest way for children of all ages to sit, and aside from that innate tendency to achieve the most stability, it’s also been attributed to time spent in infant carrier devices, like swings, bouncy seats, and car seats. What can be done? Well, the somewhat alarmist recommendation is to get them to stop doing it immediately — that, whenever you see your child W-sitting, you either physically move their legs into a suitable position (if they’re too young to understand) or tell them to do so.
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