You may have heard that sitting with your legs and feet in a ‘W’ position is bad - here’s why.
W-sitting is the position where the:
If you look front on when your little one is sitting like this, their legs form a ‘W’. If you’re thinking ‘but my child does that all the time’, don’t be alarmed. It’s very common and feels natural for kids and so no one is the wiser. It’s a stable position that allows kids to not have to work so hard on staying upright so they can play and focus on other things. Unfortunately with it can come postural, developmental and growth issues if this position is not discouraged. The issues can affect the hips, knees and feet, core muscles and associated co-ordination. It can also result in pigeon-toed walking (in-toeing) and knock-knees. Here are a few of these effects explained.
As this position internally rotates the thighs, it can significantly impact the internal hip joint. As this position externally rotates the legs, it can significantly impact the internal hip joint. The muscles that surround and stabilise the hip become contracted/lengthened accordingly which can impact the overall hip movement as well as developmental milestones such as learning to walk.
W sitting internally rotates the knees and externally rotates the ankles. Like in the hip joint and paired with it, muscular contractions can occur in the hamstrings, inner thighs and achilles tendon at the back of the heel. This can result in in-toed (pigeon toed) walking and encourage toe-walking too.
Because in this position the body is stabilised by the extreme rotation of their legs, kids can fail to engage the core muscles of their abs and pelvis to remain upright and balanced. In this position, arms also tend to stay on their respective side and not reach across to the opposite side.
Core muscle stability and tone is an essential component to both crawling and walking. Reaching over from one side to another (like when picking up toys) and moving bilaterally is essential for development and is a prerequisite for more advanced developmental milestones such as reading and writing in later life.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic cure for this one - it’s simply about discouraging it, encouraging cross-legged sitting instead, and breaking the habit if it has formed.
If you’re worried about your little ones’ habits such as W-sitting and if it’s affecting their developmental milestones such as crawling and a normal walking pattern, get them checked by a podiatrist and they’ll advise you on the best management plan for your child.