W – Sitting … What’s the big deal?

What is W Sitting?

W sitting refers to when children sit on their bottom, with their knees bent and splayed out beside them, forming a W shape (see picture).

Persistent W sitting can lead to other complications, due to the increased stress on the knee and hip joints. Some reasons why your paediatric physiotherapist may warn you away from W sitting are:

  • It can cause hip or knee pain 
  • Can result (or contribute to) intoeing and knock knees
  • Tightness in the muscles around the hips 
  • Trouble with gross and fine motor skills, involving trunk rotation, core activation, and bilateral coordination
  • Keeps your child focussed on play in the midline only, which limits exploration and transitions during play.

So why does my child W sit? 

Good question! Some of the most common reasons for W sitting include:

  • Increased hip mobility 
  • Tightness in the muscles around the hip and knee
  • Low muscle tone 
  • Core weakness 
  • It is EASY! W sitting is a very stable position as it creates a wide base of support, it requires less muscle activation and is less fatiguing. 

Sooo, what can I do to help my child?!

W sitting will often quickly become a habit for some kiddies, so trying to break that habit by changing up their sitting positions is very important. Some alternatives include: 

Cross-legged sitting

This position is usually how kids are made to sit at school, so encouraging it early is a good idea. The way the legs are positioned in cross legged sitting, it is also the complete opposite of W sitting!! It allows external rotation of the hips and knees, which places these joints in a better position for development. This encourages transitions in and out of sitting and crossing of the midline.



Ring sitting

Provides a stretch for the muscles around the hip and encourages kiddies to use their tummy muscles more!



Side sitting

This encourages weight shift and propping through upper limbs, which can help strengthen shoulders. It also makes transitioning in and out of sitting easy, to promote exploration during play!



High kneeling

This position is great for strengthening a child’s core and glute muscles, whilst also promoting good alignment through the hips and trunk. 



Tummy time

Tummy time is not just for bubs, it is still a great position for play for older children too! It helps to stretch the muscles at the front of the hips, promotes weight bearing through shoulders improving strength, and encourages core and back muscle activation.




Your physiotherapist will also have some great strengthening activities to help decrease your child’s W sitting. Some of our favourite exercises at Canobolas Kids Physio are…

                                                    Crab walk


                                                      Ball roll-outs