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What is W-sitting?

W-sitting is when a child sits on the ground with their bottom, knees and feet all touching the ground, and the feet rest outside of the knees.

Why do children W-sit?

Some children choose to W-sit because it is a more stable position. It is often used by children to compensate for decreased hip strength, decreased trunk strength or increased hip flexibility. If children have difficulty with sitting balance or endurance, W-sitting allows a child to use their hands to play, as they are not using their arms to support their sitting position. Children who have weakness in their trunk muscles may also have difficulty with their gross motor skills (such as jumping) and fine motor skills (such as handwriting).

What are the effects of prolonged W-sitting?

  • Shorter and tighter leg muscles which can affect a child’s gross motor skills

  • Delayed core muscle activation - joints and leg position are used to stabilize the body in this position

  • Decreased trunk rotation - which can impact fine motor skill development as it a child’s functional mobility

  • Increased stress on hip and knee joints - as hips are positioned in maximal flexion and internal rotation, and this position also puts a lot of tension on the inside of the knee joint

  • Poor posture - W-sitting can cause weakness in the trunk extensor muscles

  • Muscle imbalance - W-sitting contributes to shortened muscles (hamstrings, adductors) and lengthened muscles (quadriceps, everters)

How can I get my child to stop W-sitting?

  • When you see your child W-sitting, encourage them to sit cross legged or in a side-sitting position

  • Build your child’s core strength by doing yoga and animal walks

  • Complete specific exercises prescribed by a physical therapist

How can physiotherapy help?

If your child is W-sitting most of the time, they may have an underlying weakness that can be addressed by a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are trained to assess your child’s range of motion, strength, function and physical development, to determine why they are W-sitting. Treatment for W-sitting may include: strengthening exercises, stretches and functional play-based activities.

Please call our clinic on (02) 441-3316 to book an appointment or discovery call with one of our pediatric physiotherapists.


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