How does your child sit during playing?
If you have children yourself or if you are close with any children in your life, you may recognize this sitting position, where the legs appear to form a letter “W.”
W sitting is not recommended for anyone. Many developing children tend to sit in 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. And not only has W sitting been linked to orthopedic issues, there is a whole long list of health risks associated with the position.
As a parent, it is important to recognize when your child is sitting in the W position and to correct it.
What is the right position?
Sitting cross-legged, with the legs straight out, or with both knees bent to one side are much preferred, and don’t carry the same negative impact on the body.
9 Dangers Of W Sitting
Danger #1: Back Problems
One of the largest concerns about W sitting is that it can cause long-term orthopedic and back problems. Particularly in children, it is necessary to strengthen the back muscles while sitting. This strengthening occurs in most seated positions. However, W sitting allows the body to collapse in on itself, depriving the child of the strong back muscles that might give back problems later in life.
Danger #2: Trouble With Motor Skills
W sitting can discourage a child from developing appropriate motor skills in their hands. Because there is no trunk rotation taken place when W sitting, the child may pick-up objects on the right with their right hand, and those placed to the left with their left hand.
This restricted trunk movement can be detrimental to developing traditional motor skills. Other sitting positions allow for an ease of movement that will let a child their full range of motion.
Danger #3: Trouble Reaching
The limited range of motion that W sitting causes also affects a child’s ability to reach. This position makes it difficult for the child to reach across the body. This will later affect their ability to perform writing skills and other table-top activities that are important in school.
Danger #4: Problems With Balance
Getting into the habit of W sitting can lead to balance problems down the road. A person’s sense of balance is developed at a young age and is of most importance. As the sitting position allows the body to collapse in on itself, it doesn’t create the learning experience for the body to balance itself while other positions encourage proper body balance.
Danger #5: Trouble With Posture And Core Muscles
As the body is collapsed or hunched-over creating insufficient body balance that leads to extremely weak core muscles. A child’s development (and an adult’s ability to stay healthy and active) involves having a strong core or midsection.
Weak abdominal muscles can cause a person to have a hunched-over appearance later in life, with improper posture.
Danger #6: Muscle Tightness
This position places the hamstrings, hip abductors, internal rotators, and heel cords in an extremely shortened range and due to their continuous use causing enormous tight muscles.
This can then negatively affect their coordination, balance, and the development of gross motor skills as they develop.
Danger #7: Potential For Hip Displacement
W sitting can predispose a child to hip dislocation.
As many adults know, hip dislocation can be extremely painful, and could potentially be avoided by choosing a different sitting position. This potential is particularly high if an adult or child suffers from hip dysplasia.
Danger #8: Joint Problems
Many adults suffer from extreme joint pain which is worse by W sitting. In the W position, a person is not engaging the core muscles, but instead adding strain to joints throughout the body. Over time, this joint pressure can lead to severe pain and other complications. This can be particularly pronounced in the knees, which are forced to undergo a large amount of strain.
Danger #9: Potential Pigeon Toes
During W sitting the muscles that twist the hip outwards tend to be weak. The sitting position causes imbalanced muscle use resulting in improper gait.
Thus when the child lifts the foot forwards to take a step, the hip twists inwards so that the foot lands on the ground with the toes pointing inwards. This is referred to as an in-toeing gait, and also called walking pigeon-toed.
Had you heard of these risks before? Do you know a child who sits in this position?
Please see your nearest Podiatrist for advice and treatment in the correction of W sitting.