As a child learns to walk, they place their feet flat on the ground by instinct. Walking is a skill that takes a lot of practice, so it is not uncommon for children to walk on and off their tiptoes as they develop this ability. Some walk on their toes to gain stability, while others will toe walk due to sensory reasons.

Sensory And Neurological Reasons

When children cannot tolerate having pressure on their heels, or if they have a range of motion restrictions in their calf muscles, toe-walking can feel more comfortable to them. As a child develops coordination and muscle strength, usually at about 18 months of age, they will begin walking with a heel-toe pattern. If they continue to walk on their toes beyond the age of three years old, however, it can be an early sign of a neurological condition such as:

• Cerebral palsy
• Spina bifida
• Tethered Cord

Is Toe Walking A Normal Activity In Your Child?

As a child learns to walk, they place their feet flat on the ground by instinct. Walking is a skill that takes a lot of practice, so it is not uncommon for children to walk on and off their tiptoes as they develop this ability. Some walk on their toes to gain stability, while others will toe walk due to sensory reasons.

Sensory And Neurological Reasons

When children cannot tolerate having pressure on their heels, or if they have range of motion restrictions in their calf muscles, toe-walking can feel more comfortable to them. As a child develops coordination and muscle strength, usually at about 18 months of age, they will begin walking with a heel-toe pattern. If they continue to walk on their toes beyond the age of three years old, however, it can be an early sign of a neurological condition such as:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida
  • Tethered Cord
  • Autism

It’s important to note that about 7 to 24 percent of children who walk on their toes will not have any type of correlated diagnosis. Again, it can be fairly common early on. It is not until the age of two that you should be concerned enough to contact your pediatrician for an evaluation.

Short Term And Long Term Effects

If left untreated, toe walking can put your child at risk for contractures, foot deformities, and balance issues. In more severe cases, your child might require surgical interventions to repair any deformities or contractures that are advanced. The good news is that physical therapy can be a very effective way to avoid surgery and help your child overcome the issues.

Toe walking can place immense stress on muscles on tendons, even in a small child. Many of the children who walk on their tip toes after learning to walk independently can develop foot deformities as early as the age of four. This can put them at risk of motion restrictions in the ankle, impaired balance, and poor postural alignment.

Physical Therapy And Beyond

Physical therapy can help your child learn to walk in a heel-toe gait pattern as well as helping to correct any range of motion restrictions, muscle imbalances, or postural deformities. A plan of care is established once a therapist can discover the reason why your child it toe walking in the first place. Treatments include stretching, strengthening of lower extremities and core, balance retraining, sensory integration techniques, serial casting, orthotic training, and a home exercise program.

After physical therapy is complete, your child will learn exercises that can be done in the home to further advance their abilities and continue treatment. For children who have a well-established heel-toe pattern and no longer have weakness or range of motion issues, the home program will be minimal. Those with neurological conditions that contribute to their toe walking, services may continue throughout their lifetime, especially during growth spurts. If you’re concerned about your child’s toe walking, contact your pediatrician.

• Autism

It’s important to note that about 7 to 24 percent of children who walk on their toes will not have any type of correlated diagnosis. Again, it can be fairly common early on. It is not until the age of two that you should be concerned enough to contact your pediatrician for an evaluation.

Short Term And Long Term Effects

If left untreated, toe walking can put your child at risk for contractures, foot deformities, and balance issues. In more severe cases, your child might require surgical interventions to repair any deformities or contractures that are advanced. The good news is that physical therapy can be a very effective way to avoid surgery and help your child overcome the issues.

Toe walking can place immense stress on muscles on tendons, even in a small child. Many of the children who walk on their tiptoes after learning to walk independently can develop foot deformities as early as the age of four. This can put them at risk of motion restrictions in the ankle, impaired balance, and poor postural alignment.

Physical Therapy And Beyond

Physical therapy can help your child learn to walk in a heel-toe gait pattern as well as helping to correct any range of motion restrictions, muscle imbalances, or postural deformities. A plan of care is established once a therapist can discover the reason why your child it toe walking in the first place. Treatments include stretching, strengthening of lower extremities and core, balance retraining, sensory integration techniques, serial casting, orthotic training, and a home exercise program.
After physical therapy is complete, your child will learn exercises that can be done in the home to further advance their abilities and continue treatment. For children who have a well-established heel-toe pattern and no longer have weakness or range of motion issues, the home program will be minimal. Those with neurological conditions that contribute to their toe walking, services may continue throughout their lifetime, especially during growth spurts. If you’re concerned about your child’s toe walking, contact your pediatrician.