The serious and surprising dangers of 'W' sitting


It is fairly common knowledge that sitting around all day, every day, can be bad for your health.

For those who sit more than eight hours a day, there can be negative repercussions for everything from the head to the heart to the colon. This probably makes sense to most people, since walking, exercising, and generally staying active are obviously much better for you.

However, it never dawned on me that one specific sitting position could be so bad for my health. And even worse, I had no idea that children are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of this position: W sitting.

Physical therapist Jean McNamara writes, "W sitting is not recommended for anyone. Many, typically developing children, do move through this position during play, but all parents should be aware that the excessive use of this position during the growing years can lead to future orthopedic problems."

And not only has W sitting been linked to orthopedic issues, there is a whole long list of health risks associated with the position.

Scroll through this exclusive information below to see exactly what W sitting is, and how it might be impacting your health or the health of a child in your life.

Had you ever heard about the risks of W sitting before? Let us know in the comments.

What Is W Sitting?

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

If you have children yourself or if you are close with any children in your life, you may recognize this sitting position, where the legs appear to form a letter "W."

Unfortunately (and surprisingly), this sitting position carries with it an enormous amount of negative health risks for children. And while most adults do not sit in this manner, the health risks certainly apply to them as well.

According to Child's Play Therapy Center, "As a parent, it is important to recognize when your child is sitting in the W position and to correct it."

How SHOULD You Sit?

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Fortunately, for children and adults alike, there are quite a few ways to sit on the floor that are much better for the body and overall health.

Sitting cross-legged, with the legs straight out, or with both knees bent to one side are muchpreferred, and don't carry the same negative impact on the body.

So what exactly are the negative health consequences associated with W sitting?

9 Dangers Of W Sitting
Danger #1: Back Problems

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

One of the largest concerns about W sitting is that it can cause long-term orthopedic and back problems.

Particularly in children, it is necessary to strengthen the back muscles while sitting. This strengthening occurs in most seated positions.

However, W sitting allows the body to collapse in on itself, depriving the child of the strong back muscles that will prevent back pain and back problems later in life.

Danger #2: Trouble With Motor Skills

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to, "W sitting can also discourage a child from developing a hand preference.

"Because no trunk rotation can take place when W sitting," the child may simply "pick up objects on the right with right hand, and those placed to the left with the left hand."

This restricted trunk movement can be detrimental to developing traditional motor skills. Other sitting positions allow for an ease of movement that will let a child — or even adult — utilize more of their range of motion.

Danger #3: Trouble Reaching

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

The suppressed range of motion that comes from W sitting also affects a child's ability to reach.

Child's Play Therapy Center writes that this position "makes it difficult for the child to reach across the body... This will later affect their ability to perform writing skills and other table-top activities that are important in school."

Danger #4: Problems With Balance

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

So much of a person's sense of balance is developed at a young age. Getting into the habit of W sitting can lead to balance problems down the road.

Again, the position allows the body to collapse in on itself, while other positions — such as sitting with crossed legs — allow a person to practice keeping the body balanced and upright.

Danger #5: Trouble With Posture And Core Muscles

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

The collapsed or hunched-over nature of W sitting can also cause extremely weak core muscles.

So much of a child's development (and an adult's ability to stay healthy and active) involves having a strong core or midsection.

Weak abdominal muscles can cause a person to have a hunched-over appearance later in life, with improper posture.

Danger #6: Muscle Tightness

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

One of the main negative effects of W sitting is that it creates an enormous amount of tightness in the muscles.

According to, "This position places the hamstrings, hip abductors, internal rotators, and heel cords in an extremely shortened range."

As stated before, Child's Play Therapy Center writes that this tightness "can then negatively affect their coordination, balance, and the development of gross motor skills down the road."

Danger #7: Potential For Hip Displacement

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to, "W sitting can predispose a child to hip dislocation."

As many adults know, hip dislocation can be extremely painful, and could potentially be avoided by choosing a different sitting position.

This potential is particularly high if an adult or child suffers from hip dysplasia.

Danger #8: Joint Problems

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Many adults suffer from extreme joint pain. This pain can be made worse by W sitting.

In the W position, a person is not engaging the core muscles, but instead adding strain to joints throughout the body. Over time, this joint pressure can lead to severe pain and other complications.

This can be particularly pronounced in the knees, which are forced to undergo a large amount of strain.

Danger #9: Potential Pigeon Toes

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to, with W sitting, "the muscles that twist the hip outwards tend to be weak.

"When the child lifts the foot forwards to take a step, the hip twists inwards so that the foot lands on the ground with the toes pointing inwards. This is referred to as an in-toeing gait, and also called walking pigeon-toed."

Had you heard of these risks before? Do you know a child who sits in this position? Let us know in the comments.

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This is what sitting all day does to your body:

This is What Sitting All Day Does to Your Body
This is What Sitting All Day Does to Your Body

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