Toe Walking in Children: Symptoms, Causes and Management

Somewhere around the ages of 12-14 months old your children start to walk. While in most cases children walk flat on their feet, some children start walking on their tip toes instead of flat feet. Generally, this will disappear after about three months or so of learning to walk. Usually at the latest it is by the age of three that they will put their feet flat on the ground to walk. However, there are some cases where children have toe walking as their normal walk and they never put their feet flat on the ground. They will walk either on the ball of their feet or straight up on their tip toe areas.

Causes of Idiopathic Toe Walking

There are many different aspects that can be the cause of toe walking. Some children with cerebral palsy tend to walk on their toes or the ball of their foot. Muscular dystrophy is another common cause of the tip toe walk pattern. Even some children with autism have been known to walk this way but most times that is not the case.

Features of this to watch out for include things such as your children walking on only the tip toe areas or the balls of their feet, they walk with straight knees, and there is often a history of this type of walking in the family. Children with toe walking can typically keep up with other kids their age even when just balancing on their toes. You will notice they also walk this way on both feet, not just one or the other. They also can stand still with both feet on the ground flat but when they began to walk they go back up on their toes.

Management of the Symptoms and Condition

If your child is still toe walking after two years old, it is time to consult your physician. There are exercises you can do at home with your child to help strengthen those muscles and help them walk flat on their feet. You can work with them on calf-stretch exercises, Achilles tendon stretches, and also sit to stand exercises to help them stretch those muscles and get them to working properly.

Shoes are another consideration in the treatment and management of toe walking. While shoes alone will not correct the issue, it can help them to have the support they need to bring their foot down farther than they do when barefoot. Make sure that the shoes your child has includes a high cut shoe that includes a wide sole, firm heel of the shoe, and rigid support.

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