What is W-Sitting?
Children that “W-sit” will sit with on their bottoms with knees bent and legs spread out.
Why do children use W-sitting?
Children may use W-sitting to compensate for decreased muscle tone. The W-sitting position is a compensatory strategy when children do not have sufficient trunk strength due to low muscle tone (hypotonia). Children with low tone prefer this position as it requires less effort and control to perform arm movements during play activities. This position gives the child a wider base of support to increase the stability in the presence of inadequate trunk strength. W-sitting may be present in typical developing children and in children with gross motor delays such as Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.
Why is W-sitting discouraged?
Children should be discouraged from W-sitting as it places excessive stress on the hip joint and hip musculature, which may lead to tightness of the muscles in the lower legs. This type of sitting can lead to delayed development of postural control, fine motor skills and coordination. W-sitting limits the opportunity for the child to activate postural control muscles in preparation for static and dynamic movement during play-based activities.
Parents need to be consistent with teaching children how to sit properly on the floor (tailor sitting/crisscross, ring or long sitting) and giving the child verbal cues such as “fix your legs” and “legs out in front.” If your child has difficulty sitting in other sitting positions, you may consider investing in a child-sized chair and desk is another good strategy to prevent W-sitting.
Are you concerned about your child’s W-Sitting?
If you have concerns about your child W-sitting or your child not meeting developmental milestones, consult your child’s pediatrician. The pediatrician may refer your child to physical therapy. Physical therapists at Two Trees Kids can complete a comprehensive evaluation and help your child with trunk strengthening and lower extremity flexibility to decrease W-sitting and promote attainment of age-appropriate developmental milestones.
Cyndy Rivera PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy at Two Trees Physical Therapy – Oxnard
I graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2015 with a doctorate in physical therapy. I obtained my Bachelor and Master degrees in Kinesiology from California State University, Northridge in 2008 and 2012, respectively. I joined the Two Trees team in 2015. I enjoy working with children. It’s fun to set-up physical therapy treatment sessions as functional play activities with the child. Structuring physical therapy sessions in this manner allows the child to feel comfortable and allows me to assess how they are performing routine activities such as rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, etc. I like working with children of all ages but I truly enjoy working with children 0-5 years old.