What's wrong with W-sitting?

What's wrong with W-sitting?

Talipes w sitting

The W-positions is one of many sitting positions that most children move into and out of while playing, but it’s a four-letter word to some parents. Why is it presumed to be ok for some children and forbidden for others?
I thought i'd do some research into why the 'W-sitting' is just so terrible. 

In easier to understand  - W position can 
  1. Cause problems with decreased stability in the body & hips.
  2. Orthopaedic issues with hips, knees and feet.
  3. Cause tightness or contractures in the hamstrings, hip adductors, internal rotators and heel cords.
  4. W position can also decrease the amount of rotation of the trunk and crossing the midline of the body, which is essential to development of hand dominance and refinement of motor skills.
On a similar subject W sitting can co-inside with SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder Not all the time but it can do.

Here's some more reasons why you should never encourage W-Sitting
Now, what I really wanted to figure out are the impacts of this posture. Well, it is said that there are a few things to be aware of. And they go like this:

  • W-sitting can also discourage a child from developing a hand preference. Because no trunk rotation can take place when W-sitting, a child is less inclined to reach across the body and instead picks up objects on the right with the right hand, and those placed to the left with the left hand.
  • Beware of muscle weakness, Maintaining this more stable posture decreases the muscular effort required at the shoulders, torso & hips.
  • Consequently, after a little while, these muscles will get fewer opportunities to develop. 
  • Beware of joints, This posture puts a lot of tension & pressure on the knee ligaments. 
  • W- Sitting should be discouraged to avoid provoking pain and instability at the knees and hips in the future.
  • There are orthopedic concerns. W-sitting can predispose a child to hip dislocation, so if there is a history of hip dysplasia, or a concern has been raised in the past, this position should be avoided.

How to STOP/PREVENT your child from W-Sitting

  • The most effective way to prevent the W-sitting is to prevent it from becoming a habit in the first place... Ha yes you wouldn't be reading this if you had prevented it already! 
  • You could get a small table & chairs for them to play at instead of floor play.
  • You may have to keep moving your childs legs around. I know I know its not that easy, but believe me it will be worth it in the end.
  • You could (Age depending) do a sticker chart & explain its 'naughty' to sit like that
  • If a child discovers W-sitting anyway, help him/her to move to another sitting position, or say, "Fix your legs." It’s very important to be as consistent as possible.
  • When playing on the floor, hold his/her knees and feet together when kneeling. It will be impossible to get into a W-position from there. The child will either sit to one side, or sit back on his feet; he can then be helped to sit over to one side from there (try to encourage sitting over both the right and left sides). 

Try yourself to sit in various positions, Notice how you got there? go out of that position & into the next? How much balance did you use? Have you yourself tried to sit in the W-sitting position? 

If a child is unable to sit alone in any position other than a W, talk with a therapist about supportive seating.

For Talipes babies wearing Boots and bar I can totally see how it is easy for them to get into the habit of W-sitting. As you can see Hugo always sits in the w-position when wearing his boots and bar. This then meaning he also sits like this without wearing his boots and bar. 
I have been working closely with his Physio to correct this. It's not worth all the risks that could follow in the future for him. 

W-sitting, W-position boots and bar 

As my son's Consultant told us, it can become an issue if the child sits in this position over and over. However, it doesn't necessarily mean it will end up being an issue altogether. 
But I guess it's always better to be safe than sorry, right!? 

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