If Your Child Is Sitting Like This, Here’s Why You Need to Stop Them Now

My daughter’s just over a year old, so there’s really not much she’s doing “wrong” yet. (Trust me, like all of us, she’ll get there.) If she smacks our family pet, it’s less hostility and more that she doesn’t have full control of her arms. If she throws her food, it’s not an act of insubordination but just her method of communicating that she’s done eating. So, when a family member alerted me to something my child was doing that she needed to stop at once, I was taken aback. Especially because, at that particular moment, she wasn’t stealing her playmate’s toys or eating an expensive coaster as she’s sometimes known to do. She was just sitting there.

Turns out, the way she was sitting — with each leg splayed at her side, knees in front and feet behind, to form a “W” shape — was all kinds of bad.

According to a vast majority of physical therapists, there are several key reasons why:

W-sitting limits core strength because it gives kids a wider base of support. Because they don’t have to engage their abdominal or back muscles in this position, kids often prefer it to more challenging, tiring positions, like with legs in front, at their sides, or crisscrossed.
W-sitting causes muscle tightness, particularly in the legs and hips but also knees and ankles.
W-sitting aggravates neurological issues such as low muscle tone, which means when kids aren’t actively using their muscles, those muscles are floppier and softer and have a harder time holding their bodies upright.
What this all means, most therapists agree, is that prolonged W-sitting throughout childhood can lead to a delayed development in gross motor skills like coordination and balance. For those parents hoping to raise a star athlete, this position’s effect on postural muscles can also be cause for concern.

This is a modal window.

The media could not be loaded, either because the server or network failed or because the format is not supported.

Why do some kids sit like this? It’s by far the steadiest way for children of all ages to sit, and aside from that innate tendency to achieve the most stability, it’s also been attributed to time spent in infant carrier devices, like swings, bouncy seats, and car seats.

Seeing as my daughter had graduated from infancy, I was immediately concerned that the damage was already done. I had tried my best to limit her time in her baby swing and the oversize, overpriced ExerSaucer that I had bought under the assumption it was actually good for a baby’s development, but here she was, W-sitting at every turn. I had never noticed it until now.

What can be done? Well, the somewhat alarmist recommendation is to get them to stop doing it immediately — that, whenever you see your child W-sitting, you either physically move their legs into a suitable position (if they’re too young to understand) or tell them to do so.

So, with a watchful eye, I adjusted her legs every time she sat incorrectly, and my husband and I instructed our child’s caretakers to do the same. Occasionally I’d correct her, and it’d be fine, but plenty of times, adjusting one of her legs would make her cry and most times, doing so annoyed her to the point that she was no longer interested in sitting and scooted off to go do something else.

She wasn’t the only one getting fed up, and it had only been a week. I dug a little deeper and found that a few pediatric occupational therapists out there don’t view this seated position as a problem necessarily. There’s not much evidence that shows causation. That is, yes, children who W-sit often have orthopedic issues and muscle tightness. But W-sitting hasn’t been proven to be the cause of those issues, which makes one wonder: could tight hamstrings and hip dysplasia lead to W-sitting, not the other way around?

One such unconvinced therapist, Rachel Coley, happens to be the mother to a W-sitter and maintains it’s perfectly normal for kids to sit this way.

She notes that it’s a simple sign of flexibility and aids in fine motor control because you need to assume the most stable seated position possible when engaging in tasks that require “coordinated, controlled movements of the hands and fingers.” Coley also noted that, for babies in particular, W-sitting provides a convenient, “natural transition” from crawling or kneeling to sitting.

However, based on how strongly most certified therapists feel about W-sitting, I’m not taking any chances. I’m going to keep my eye on it, and I’ll encourage other parents who were unaware of this issue to do the same, especially if they have older kids showing some of the negative side effects. But, if my child is having the time of her life smacking two wooden blocks together, I’m not going to spoil the fun if she happens to be W-sitting.

10 Table Manners to Teach Your Children

Good table manners are an important key to your children’s social success. Children aren’t born with good manners, and teaching them is your responsibility, as a parent. In fact, table manners can bring in a lot of positive changes in your children’s behavior and help in developing moral values. Read on and find out a few table manners you should teach your children.

1. Greet people
Nowadays many children just come to the dining table, quickly eat a meal and move away without greeting people around them. And this leaves a really bad impression about the children in everybody’s mind. Teach your children to have a look at people sitting around them at the dining table and greet them. First impression is the best and most lasting impression! If your kid forgets to greet everyone, you can tactfully remind the child to say ‘Hello’ to others. To set an example you can greet your child first.

2. Setting the table
It’s essential for your children to learn how to set the table properly. They will always know that the forks go on the left, and the spoons, knives and the glass on the right. The napkin should lie beside the fork and the blade of the knife should face the plate. Your child should also remember that it’s unacceptable to eat until everyone is served. Many parents skip this important step, and this is a very big mistake! However, these skills will come in handy when you need a couple of extra hands to help you or when the children should serve the table by themselves.

3. Manners of sitting while eating
Teach your children to sit straight, with their elbows off the table and the napkins on their lap. If the child doesn’t know when it’s time to put the napkin on the lap, tell them to observe and repeat after older people. It may be hard for children to sit for a long time if their legs don’t reach the ground. But try to make your kids accustomed to sitting like this for at least 5-10 minutes a day. If your kid is too active, let them get up from the table, push the chair back and play for some time. These table manners are of great importance when you eat at the restaurant or visit friends and kinsfolk.

4. Chew with their mouth closed
This is one of the most important table manners you should teach your children. Nobody would wish to look at people eating with their mouth opened. Teach your kid to take small bites of food instead of stuffing the mouth full. Your kid should know that talking with a full mouth is unacceptable. Moreover, it’s highly dangerous since the child can choke with the food. So be sure to teach your children to chew the food slowly and with their mouth closed.

5. Ask for food
You should also teach your children how to ask for food rather than reaching across others to get it. Perhaps, the child doesn’t know when it’s okay to get the food themselves and when it’s better to ask for food. As long as you can reach the food with your arm leaning forward a bit, take the food yourself. If not, ask for food. Words ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are indispensable while asking to pass you something. The correct way to pass the food is in a counterclockwise direction, from left to right. First, teach your children to pass the food to the person sitting close to them.

6. Use a fork and spoon
Teach your children to use a fork and spoon unless the food is meant to be eaten with fingers. Forks and spoons can make a very irritating noise, so teach your kids to eat slowly and gently, without banging against the plate. Your kids should know that it’s forbidden to push food to the fork with fingers. Your child can use a spoon for this purpose. When eating with a spoon it’s necessary to sip from the side. Teach your kids not to lick the cutlery when they finish with their meal. Since all these tricks require great practice you’d better start teaching your children at a very young age. Sure, they will make a mess, but it’s worth it!

7. Don’t dump the food
Be sure to teach your children not to dump the food completely into mouth. Teach your children to put small morsels of food in the mouth. Stuffing mouth with food may result in choking that can lead to some serious health problems. Not only is it better for digestion and health, it will also make the conversation more pleasant and easier. If you’re going to eat out or with your friends, make sure your child had some light snack not to feel hungry.

8. Don’t pick their teeth
Tell your children that they should never pick their teeth at the table. Tell them to use a toothpick and if the children feel restless, ask them to excuse themselves and go to the restroom to pick their teeth. If the child notices that a piece of food stuck in the tablemate’s teeth, the child should quietly tell about that or signal with their eyes or chin. Teach your kid some tricks to remove hot or unwanted food from the mouth.

9. Say ‘Thank you’
Teach your children to say ‘Thank you’ to the person who cooked and served food for them. Explain your kids that the person took time and energy to prepare and serve the food, and that’s why they should show their appreciation. Teach your kids to be thankful for service when you eat out. When your kids are accustomed to say ‘Thank you’ at home, they’re more likely to do it when they’re at the restaurant or someone else’s home. When a child wants to refuse the food, they should say ‘No, thank you’ as well.

10. Respect the food
Finally, it’s also very important to teach your kids not to make any rude comments about the food being served. Tell them that it will hurt the person who cooked the meal, spending their valuable time, energy and money. Also teach your children not to waste the food that is served to them. Fighting for food or yelling at the dinner table is highly disrespectful to the host and to the meal. Teach your children not to make impolite and tactless judgments about someone’s eating habits and preferences. Explain that every food that is on the table is a blessing.

No matter whether you’re eating out, with friends or at home, good table manners are always important. Good table manners are a powerful tool of social interaction that will help your kids in their adult life. Table manners are appreciated by most people. Your child should learn respectful attitude towards food, and good table manners should be taught from the young age. Do you have any tips for teaching the children table manners? Share them, please!

The Dangers of Sitting and Benefits of Standing (Infographic)

Sitting all day long is harmful, but how many of us can change our sedentary lifestyles? Almost no one. Even if you do not have a desk job, you probably spend a lot of the time in front of TV or computer, which means you sit too.

The dangers of sitting are intimidating. Sitting too much can lead to chronic back pain, strained neck, heart disease, foggy brain, colon cancer, muscle degeneration, leg disorders, disk damage and much more that you could imagine.

While you definitely cannot quit your job, realizing the hazards of prolonged sitting is a problem half-solved. No boss will blame you for standing or walking around the office for a few minutes every hour, so make sure you do take these little breaks. Not only will you improve your health, but you will also boost your productivity and keep your energy levels high.

The infographic mentioned below will show you all the dangers of sitting and the benefits of standing. Hopefully, it will make you correct your sedentary lifestyle. Feel free to tell us about your best ways to move more in the workplace.

Is Sitting Worse than Eating Donuts?

If you knew how much I dislike donuts you’d understand how strong of a statement that is for me. Donuts are a mixture of three of the worst non-foods available: processed grains, hydrogenated vegetables oils and sugar. They have no nutritional value and are can harm your health in a variety of ways. And sitting too much can be worse.

The Problem With Sitting

Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. – Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic

Dr. Levine further explains that sitting not only increases the risk obesity, but also the risk of cancers (like lung, endometrial, breast and prostate), heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and more.

His research and an analysis of many recent studies show that each hour we spend sitting takes about 21 minutes off of our lives (smoking only shaves 11 minutes off of your life. The jury is still out on how many minutes each donut takes away).

Here are some of the reasons why:

We burn 50 less calories per hour when sitting (compared to standing)
Sitting can cause the muscles to atrophy or tighten in certain places and lead to things like back pain
Research is also showing that sitting for long periods causes the muscles to release less of the enzyme Lipase which controls proper breakdown of fats
Sitting for long periods can reduce insulin sensitivity and increase risk of insulin resistance
Sitting too much for an extended time can reduce bone density
Chris Kresser sums it up:

Even worse, too much sitting could shorten your life. Studies in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Asia have all found an association between increased sedentary time and the risk of early death. (6, 7, 8, 9) These associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, waist circumference and diet.

Does Exercise Help?

What I found most interesting about the research on sitting is that the statistics remained true even if the person being studied exercised for the recommended amount each day. In other words- exercise doesn’t mitigate the harmful effects of sitting.

Even marathon runners and elite athletes who trained for hours a day but sat for the rest of their day were at risk because it was the act of sitting that caused the problem, not the lack of exercise.

Is Standing Better?

One solution often offered to help avoid the harmful effects of sitting is to use a standing desk instead. I personally do this and notice that I am much more productive since making the switch.

Switching to standing for even just part of your day (3-4 hours) burns an extra 1000+ calories a week, which works out to the calories burned from running over 15 marathons when done for a year.

Reducing the amount of time spent sitting for even a few hours a day also drastically lowers the risk of the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it is a step in the right direction.

I personally have this standing desk which I found for under $200 and it has lasted me several years and is still in great shape. I keep it in the corner of a room and it actually takes up less space than a conventional desk. Another unexpected benefit: my little kids can’t reach the top of my standing desk, so it is one of the few safe places in the house I can keep my camera or other delicate equipment.

While standing is a better solution, it has some downsides as well, including a higher risk of back strain and varicose veins.

A Step Up from Standing

Switching to a treadmill desk is another solution that offers even better benefits than just standing. It is cost and space prohibitive for many people, but it seems to be the best desk-optional available.

I don’t have one yet, (trying to convenience we CAN fit one in our house!) but will definitely share my experience if/when I do. Typically a person walks very slowly on a treadmill desk (less than 2 mph) which is enough to get blood flowing without making it difficult or distracting to work.

I am planning to get a basic treadmill like this one to add to my standing desk. Another great option would be to find a used treadmill on Craigslist or a similar site (I’ve seen them for under $200 often) and build a simple desk to go around it.

The Best Solution

In a perfect world, the best solution would be to use a treadmill desk that encourages slow movement and also to take breaks at various intervals for some more specific movements.

A treadmill desk isn’t an option for many of us, so another great solution is to do some very specific short exercises for 2-5 minutes after every hour or so of sitting. I recently interviewed two physical therapists who specialize in exercises to counteract the negative effects of sitting, and they explain this in detail in this podcast episode.

Their program focuses on short, intense exercises that can be done in a short amount of time, and special stretches that help balance the muscles after long periods of sitting. You can find out more about the specific exercises here.

Long story short, sitting kills and over the long term it can be worse for your health than smoking or eating donuts.

Image: MedicalBillingandCoding.org
Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior
Sedentary behaviors increase risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in men.
Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
Suppression of skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase activity during physical inactivity: a molecular reason to maintain daily low-intensity activity
How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health.

How much do you sit per day? Think about all the time you spend driving, working at a desk, watching TV, etc. It’s probably more than you think (it was for me!). Share below!

Fast Workouts to Reverse the Effects of Sitting

Note from Katie: I recently wrote about the negative effects of sitting too much and how this is linked to higher risk of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, obesity and other health problems. Spending less time sitting is part of the solution, but it isn’t always an option for many people. I asked Chad and Brenda Walding (doctors of physical therapy) to provide some quick and effective workouts to combat the negative effects of sitting. Enter Chad and Brenda…

“Yeah this one right here goes out to all the baby’s mamas, mamas…
Mamas, mamas, baby mamas, mamas
Yeah, go like this”
-Outkast (Ms. Jackson)

It’s an awesome time of year here in Austin, TX. The heat from the dry summer is finally leaving and the cool breeze is coming in. It’s also the weekend of the ACL music festival and Outkast is in town…hence the inspired quote:)

We were recently on The Wellness Mama podcast to talk about our upcoming book The Sitting Solution and it was such a great time! Afterwards, Katie asked us if we’d like to do a post for Fitness Friday! This got us a little motivated and we thought we’d do something for mamas today! After all… if mama ain’t happy then ain’t no body happy and we want to play our part.

Here are the workouts we mentioned with video demos so you can get started right away!. Have fun!

3-5 min AMRAP (As many reps or rounds as possible)

5 Side bridges Left
5 Side bridges Right
5 Pushups
10 Lunges
3-5 min AMRAP (As many reps or rounds as possible)

5 Burpees
10 Mountain climbers
3-5 min AMRAP (As many reps or rounds as possible)

30 ft. Bear crawl
15 Swimmers
3-5 min AMRAP (As many reps or rounds as possible)

10 Squats
5 Low to high planks
3-5 min AMRAP (As many reps or rounds as possible)
3-5 min AMRAP (As many reps or rounds as possible)

6 Renegade rows
10 Thrusters”

Have questions? We’ve got answers!

So how many times a day and how often do you recommend we do these workouts?

-In the video we mention 3 or 4 times a day spaced out throughout the day (every 2-4 hours) but honestly just go by how you feel and fit it in when/where you can. Even if you do 1 workout throughout the day you’ll still find you’ve gotten a great workout in.

-As far as how many times a week to do these workouts…that too depends on how you feel and what time allows. Doing these workouts 2-5 times a week will give you excellent results. You don’t want to do too little AND you also don’t want to do too much! Listen to your body.

What exactly does “3-5 min AMRAP” mean?

-It means you can do 3 to 5 minutes of work depending on how you feel and what your schedule allows. In the video we only do it for 3 minutes and found it to be plenty! If you’d like to do up to 5 minutes then by all means go for it. But if you notice you’re slowing down and hitting muscle failure you’ve done plenty enough.

Can my kids do this with me?

-Absolutely…and we HIGHLY encourage it! These workouts are great for children, as they really promote core strength and improve movement patterns, which is SO critical as children age! They will have a blast with these workouts…especially the crawls!

What if I can’t go down as far as Brenda does when she does a squat, pushup, lunge or burpee? And I can’t move as fast as she does…should I quit?

-Stay at a comfortable depth with everything (squats, pushups, lunges, burpees, etc…). Also…you can use a chair to tap your butt on when you do squats and thrusters. If its difficult to do a burpee then just skip the pushup part and only kick your legs back, jump back, and then jump up.

-It’s very important that you don’t hurt yourself. Slow down if you have to and find your own pace. Focus more on the quality of your movement and let the intensity come after that. You’ll notice over time your mobility and strength will naturally improve and you’ll feel better.

You mentioned something about a Sitting Solution book that is an exercise program like this specifically designed for people who sit or stand in front of a desk all day…where can I find out more about that?

-Yes….you can check out our book “The Sitting Solution” here. This is a perfect tool for people who chronically sit. If you are staying at home with your kids and your spouse is away at work then this would make a nice gift.

Ok guys! We hoped you enjoyed this and you’re able to get something out of it! If you’d like to find out more about us you can find us here.

To all the mamas,

Chad Walding DPT, OPT L1, RKC
Brenda Walding DPT, FDN

The Problem with Sitting: A Solution

Chad and Brenda Walding of SittingSolution.com join me on today’s podcast to explain how sitting can be one of the most harmful things you do each day.

You’ve probably seen the headlines…

“Sitting is the New Smoking”
“7 Ways Sitting Will Kill You”
“Sitting is Taking Years Off Your Life”

…and you may have hoped it was media hype.

Sitting is Worse Than Donuts…

It isn’t hype. More and more studies have come out proving how bad sitting is EVEN if you work out regularly.

See exactly what I’m talking about here: Studies Prove Sitting Kills.

Here are three important studies about sitting…

Study One: Sitting causes premature death (especially in women!)

Alpa Patel (PhD), an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, tracked the health of 123,000 Americans between 1992 and 2006. The men in the study who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher.

Study Two: Daily Exercise Doesn’t Reduce The Threat Of Sitting

Marc Hamilton, Ph.D, Professor, and inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, has published 12 studies on the topic of sitting. Each one has proven how dangerous modern sitting is. Here is a summary statement on why typical exercise isn’t a solution…

“People don’t need the experts to tell them that sitting around too much could give them a sore back or a spare tire. The conventional wisdom, though, is that if you watch your diet and get aerobic exercise at least a few times a week, you’ll effectively offset your sedentary time…this advice makes scarcely more sense than the notion that you could counter a pack-a-day smoking habit by jogging. Exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting. Sitting is hazardous. It’s dangerous.” — Marc Hamilton

Study Three: Sitting increases risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome risk factors, and obesity.

In an extensive study (2007 Nov;56 (11):2655-67. Epub 2007 Sep 7) the evidence concluded that sitting was a “…potentially major clinical and public health significance…the dire concern for the future may rest with growing numbers of people unaware of the potential insidious dangers of sitting too much.” (Emphasis Added)

Scary huh?

If you’re like most people, sitting isn’t really something you can just stop doing.

But here is the good news…you don’t have to.

Today’s podcast guests,  Chad and Brenda (Doctors of Physical Therapy) have spent years behind the scenes working on a solution for their patients. It combines the positive studies of Activity Thermogenesis and their expertise in Physical Therapy to gently reverse the negative impact of sitting inside your body…and it works even if you HAVE to sit all day!

They are sharing their solutions on this podcast episode, and you can also read more about it here in their new Sitting Solution program.

Resources We Mention

  • Sitting Solution Program
  • Standing desk (this is the one I use)
  • Ball Chair
  • Foam Roller for working out muscles