What is W-sitting and is it that bad?

‘W’ sitting is a common form of sitting in children whereby the legs (thighs/knees) are rotated inwards with the feet turning outwards.  As adults, we often lose this ability, but children quite easily fall into this sitting position as they have the range in their hips.  It isn’t painful and is often preferred due to their hip alignment.

Children’s hips are naturally rotated forwards.  They also have more flexible muscles and joints which enable the ‘w’ sitting position.

The problem with ‘w’ sitting is this – it can create or maintain excessive movement in the hips which can then make the hips more unstable or weak.  If there is more movement in the hip, the muscles are required to work harder to keep the joint stable.

Excessive in-turning of the hips can also contribute to conditions such as in-toeing (pidgeon-toeing) and difficulty performing tasks such as stairs, running, or jumping due to decreased hip strength and stability.  It is important to ensure that the range in the hips that enables outwards rotation is adequate enough to perform cross legged sitting.  After all, this is how all our children sit when they go to school.

So, what should you do if your child is a ‘w’ sitter?  Help retrain the habit to encourage long sitting (legs out straight in front) or cross legged sitting.  Cross legged sitting is a great alternative as it is often used in preschools and schools when sitting on the ground.  If your child can’t sit cross legged, it is important to get it checked out as they may have tightness in their hips with the muscles that allow for cross legged sitting.