Anyone who has scoliosis will be well aware of the importance of posture and sitting correctly when it comes to spinal comfort.
However, did you know that there is one position in particular that can be particularly damaging when it comes to children's spinal health?
That position is the so-called 'W position'.
What is the W position?
First things first, you're probably wondering what the W position is. While the name may not be familiar, the pose most certainly will be.
A favoured position for many children and even some adults, the W position is where a person sits flat on their rear with their legs folded underneath, yet spread out to each side.
The result creates a 'W' shape from foot to foot - not too dissimilar to the Virasana ('Hero Pose') in yoga.
Why is the W position problematic?
While the effect of the W position on the body is a matter of some debate. It's becoming an increasingly hot topic among parents, particularly due to its perceived impact on children's development.
A number of osteopathic experts have reported that the W position can cause the lower back to arch. It's also been said that it can put pressure on lower body joints such as the hips and knees, weakening the core muscles as a result.
The widespread concern has seen the story picked up by numerous news outlets across the UK in recent years, including national publications like the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail.
However, conflicting reports have been published that suggest it has no bearing at all on spinal development - for example, see this article from Today.com.
Is there cause for concern?
Despite the mixture of opinions on the matter, this is one of those scenarios where it's better to err on the side of caution.
If a simple adjustment in sitting positioning might improve your child's posture and spinal health, it's undoubtedly a precaution worth taking.
A weakened core can have a notable impact on agility, sporting performance (such as running and jumping) and general balance.
Meanwhile, evidence suggests that the W position can also increase the likelihood of hip dislocation and may even lead to a curvature of the spine.
Correcting the W position
If you notice that your child is routinely sitting in the W position, try to get them out of the habit.
Encourage them to sit with their backs against a solid surface for support, and instruct them to sit with their legs out in front of them.
Ideally this would be on a chair; however, if floor sitting is preferred, provide pillows for increased comfort.
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