By Rachel Jones, PT, MS

What is it?

*W-sitting is when your child sits with his bottom between his legs with his knees bent and legs rotated away from his body.  It looks like a “W”.

Why is it bad?

     *This position causes a strain on the hips and knees and can compromise the integrity of the joints.  The hips are placed in extreme limits of medial rotation (turning inwards) and muscles placed in shortened positions for a prolonged time can become short and tight.

     *This position does not allow a child to develop strong trunk muscles because they are relying on joint structures to keep them upright instead of using their core muscles.

     *This position discourages crossing midline, a skill that is required for development of motor and cognitive skills.  The position limits active trunk rotation, so a child cannot easily shift weight side to side, which can delay bilateral coordination.

How to correct?

Encourage sitting in other positions:

  • Pretzel sitting (criss-cross applesauce).
  • Side-sitting
  • Long sitting
  • Sit on a small stool
  • Tall kneel
  • Heel sitting (sit on heels with knees touching)
  • Prone (lie on tummy) – this position stretches hip flexors and promotes extensor strengthening

*Corrected sitting puts the pelvis in a more neutral position, the spine in better alignment, and less strain on hip and knee joints.  It also encourages a child to use back and abdominal muscles to maintain the position. 

*It is VERY common and okay for children to move in and out of this position while playing on the floor at some point in their development.  But, if they are W-sitting for extended periods of time, it can be a signal for an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

*If your child has difficulty maintaining another position, schedule a PT Evaluation for advice to treat any underlying strength deficits or muscle tightness or developmental issue that may be present.