Kids and Toe Walking

Sometimes children walk on their toes instead of on their whole foot. This looks like standing on the tip toes. The muscles of the leg are too tight causing the child to walk on their toes. Most children outgrow toe walking. Kids who persist to toe walk beyond three years of age or who have other developmental delays should be referred to a physician. The cause of toe walking is unknown.

Understanding Flat Feet and Toe Walking in Children

Flat feet, most of the time, are a normal part of a child’s growth and development. Babies are born with flat feet and develop their arch slowly from walking. Some children never develop an arch. If they are not having pain, no treatment is necessary. Orthotics can be prescribed if your child has symptoms, such as foot or ankle pain. Treatment for any condition is best determined by your child’s healthcare provider.

Toe walking is a pattern of walking in which a child walks on the balls of his or her toes, with no contact between the heels and ground. Walking is the most primitive form of human locomotion, and when a child is a toe-walker, the normal pattern of heel-to-toe motion is upset. In most cases, children who are toe-walkers are more of a nuisance than a problem. However, if a child continues to toe-walk beyond the age of two, he or she is at risk for developing problems with the way his or her feet, legs, or spine develop. In general, a case of toe-walking would not be considered normal past the age of two. Persistent toe walking can be caused by the shortening of heel cords and can result from conditions such as spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy.

Our team of podiatrists will do a comprehensive assessment of your child’s muscle tone, posture, and gait pattern, which will then be used to determine the cause of your child’s toe walking. Based on this examination, treatment may include:

  • Stretching exercises
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the leg muscles
  • Orthotic devices to improve foot position

Sometimes a more gentle and effective approach such as gait retraining or casting is recommended to allow a child to feel how a full foot can be used. Gait retraining improves the way your child walks in an attempt to reduce the energy and stress placed on different tissues, muscles, organs, and body structures. Gait retraining also increases your child’s awareness of how proper balance during walking feels. In essence, gait retraining is training the muscles and nerves to reunite in a way that is normal.

Doveston Health wants to make sure your child can walk confidently, without any of the complications that come with toe walking. Contact us for more information.