We’ve all seen kids sitting on the floor, their legs bent behind them at the knee in the shape of the letter W.
In recent years a plethora of conflicting points of view have emerged as to the safety of W-sitting.
Sitting for too long in any position, at any age, puts pressure on the neck, shoulders and upper back, according to MSN Health. Spending time outdoors on the ground, playing or walking, helps kids remain flexible and balanced. Inside, cushions allow children to sit cross-legged, straddle, squatting or with raised knees.
“It is so important to structure the day using the ‘up and down’ method, ‘says Belinda Lies, director of Kiddie Campus, in Yorkville. “This way the children are not sitting or standing for too long a time. An example would be sitting for circle time, then going to free play, and then concluding with craft time.”
According to the Pediatric Therapy Center, an occupational therapy center in Nebraska, W-sitting “prevents a child from developing the proper core strength (strong tummy muscles) and balance to develop certain gross motor skills such as jumping and running,” and can “lead to tightness in the muscles of the legs, hips, and ankles as well as possible hip dislocation.”
Kids often sit in the “W” position between four and six years of age, because it’s common for children to be born with an internal rotation of the thigh bone, which usually corrects itself in a few years, Dr. Eduardo Novais, orthopedic surgeon at Boston Children's Hospital, told Today.com. “It’s common for kids to sit like this,” Novais said.
Dr. Jennifer Weiss, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, told Today.com she had no problem with the “W” position. “They’re not going to change the shape of their legs. They’re not going to change their alignment by sitting like that. They’re just responding to their natural anatomy.”