What is W-Sitting?

  • A child is in a W-Sitting position when they are sitting on their bottom with both knees bent and their legs rotated away from the body
  • If you stand above the child and look down, it looks like their legs are forming a “W”

Why do Kids W-Sit?

  • Children with poor balance or weak abdominal, hip, and/or trunk muscles prefer this position because it offers a wider base of support, which is used as a compensatory strategy so that they do not have to work hard to activate their muscles during play
  • It is very common for children to move in and out of this position when playing on the floor – however, the problem arises when the child chooses to sit like this for an extended amount of time.

What’s the Problem?

  • Increases risk of hip and leg muscles becoming short and tight – this negatively impacts coordination, balance, development of gross motor skills, and may lead to ‘pigeon-toed’ walking
  • Can cause back, pelvis, and/or joint pain
  • Less core muscle activation is required to maintain the position – enforcing weak/poor muscle development
  • Delays development of a hand preference
  • Limits ability to shift weight from side to side – this negatively impacts the development of balance reactions, ability to reach across the body to perform tasks that involve both hands, and ability to cross midline; this can negatively impact their ability to perform writing skills and other important school-related table top activities

Solutions to W-Sitting

  • Alternative ways to sit à long sitting (legs out in front), side sitting (to either side), crisscross/tailor sitting, tall kneel, or sitting on a low bench or stool
  • Core muscle strengthening à sitting on an exercise/physio-ball, crawling through a tunnel, swimming, bouncing (hopscotch/trampoline)
  • Hip stretching à butterfly, piriformis, child’s pose
  • Repetition and consistency with verbal cues – i.e. “fix your legs” or “criss-cross-applesauce”

Web Resources

Blog submitted by,

Jay Manix, Occupational Therapy Intern

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