Circle-Up, Friends! Let's Learn about the "W"

"W" sitting posture

"W" sitting posture

Do you remember that kid in elementary school who would sit in circle time with her legs twisted back?

This is actually a sitting posture called "W" sitting that can cause a lot of problems in leg development in children. 

HIP Anatomy 101

Hip Joint

Hip Joint

Here is a quick and dirty anatomy lesson: 

The hip joint looks like a ball-and-socket. 

The “ball” is the head of the femur which is joined to the "socket" or pelvis.  

The "head" of the femur connects to the shaft of the femur (long thigh bone) via a the “neck”. 

The "angle of the neck" relates to how the femur and leg move and grow relative to the pelvis.

Why do kids "W" sit?

  • Poor Balance:  This position gives the child a wide base that locks the lower half freeing up the hands and arms to play.  

  • Abnormal Hip Joint Structure: An altered angle of the femoral neck may cause the head of the femur to rotate in the hip joint.  A child might compensate for this rotation by sitting in a "W"

  • Muscle Weakness: With poor abdominal or back muscles, a child assumes a "W" position for stability to compensate for a weak core and allow the child to play freely in sitting

How does “W” sitting change the hip?

When you sit in a “W” position, the hip rotates in.  This inward rotation makes the muscles that rotate the hip in tight and the muscles that rotate the hip out weak.  In addition, "W" sitting exaggerates the forces that impact the angle the neck of the femur contributing to rotating the shaft of the femur.

Hip Muscle Weakness and Altered/Inward hip joint positioning contributes to:

  • Changing the way a child sits, walks and stands and can lead to poor activity tolerance and pain.

  • Decreasing the joint surface contact area of the head of the femur in the socket (pelvis). This may alter the tissues that keep the hip joint in the right place as the child grows leading to hip popping, pain or even joint dislocation.

  • Changing the lower leg appearance causing the child to compensate by standing or walking with the toes pointed inward, on their toes, or with flat feet.

What to do?

Circle Sitting- Corrected Posture

Circle Sitting- Corrected Posture

Correct early and often!  Typically, the “W” position can be corrected as early as you see your child sitting in it.  Simply manually adjust the child's legs to a circle sitting or long sitting position and add a verbal cue like “fix your legs!”  This simple and habitual adjustment should allow the muscles and bones to correctly grow and move in a healthy way.  If for some reason your child is unable to circle sit, you hear popping, or the child complains of pain in the hip, knee or feet, Contact US! This could be a sign of bigger problems.

Seek a healthcare professional including us at Boost Babies, LLC here in Austin, TX.

We offer wellness classes one-on-one with a Doctor of Physical Therapy!