We have grown up hearing parents tell their children to stop sitting with their legs as 'W' shaped. Now, we are seeing several warnings on the internet that suggests the same. But do you know why kids are not suppose to sit like that?
It is a natural instinct for children to sit in the 'W' position. Usually they sit this way when playing with toys on the floor. Their legs spread out each side and knees bent with feet pointing outwards, can cause them a lifetime of pain according to an expert, if it is not stopped.
London based osteopath Dr. Avni Trivedi explained that sitting in the W position can “put pressure on the developing joints of the lower body such as hips and knees.”
She added "Sitting for too long generally can place undue pressure on the neck, shoulders and upper back. For children that may be hyper mobile (double-jointed), sitting in the "W" position may overstretch the joints and can weaken the trunk muscles as they are not required to be active."
However Trivedi warns that it is not just the W position that can cause harm. Children that sit with their legs crossed for a long period of time can be at risk of having long-term pain. It can "place undue pressure on the neck, shoulders and upper back,” said Trivedi. "As it is, kids spend too long craning into screens and carrying heavy backpacks."
An orthopedic surgeon, Pablo Castañeda explained the reason children like to sit in this particular way. The W position results from "femoral ante-version, in which the top of the femur bone is tilted forward, relative to the knee."
You rarely see older children or even adults sitting in this position, as it comes naturally to children and most of the outgrow it as they get older. However extreme femoral ante-version can be a sign of hip dysplasia, says Castañeda , which is a leading cause of arthritis. According to the doctor, when a child sits in the 'W' position but it looks 'asymmetric' as if he/she is favouring one side of the body over the other, it could be a sign of an underlying condition.
So how can parents prevent this? Simple, just try to break them from the habit. Sure some might grow out of it but it is best to stop them the moment you start noticing it, in order to avoid any risks. Give them a cushion to sit on so they do not sit in a dangerous way.
Dr. Avni Trivedi recommends children to "“straddle-sit, or sit in a squat, or sit with their knees raised." She also encourages parents to ensure that their child does not spend too long in any seated position regardless of the activity or reason.