Walking on the toes or the ball of the foot, also known as toe walking, is fairly common in children who are just beginning to walk. Most children outgrow it. Kids who continue toe walking beyond the toddler years often do so out of habit. As long as your child is growing and developing normally, toe walking on its own is unlikely to be a cause for concern.
WHEN TO WORRY ABOUT TOE WALKING IN OLDER CHILDREN
If your child is still walking on their toes after the age of 3 have a podiatrist take a look at him/her. The doctor know if the toe walking is accompanied by tight leg muscles, tightness in the ankles, or a lack of muscle coordination.
WHAT CAN CAUSE TOE WALKING
It typically starts as a habit that develops when a child learns to walk, but in other cases, toe walking can be caused by an underlying condition.
Having a short Achilles tendon is one cause of toe walking. The tendon that connects the lower leg muscles to the back of the heel bone is too short. If it is too short, it can prevent the heel from touching the ground.
Toe walking can also be caused by cerebral palsy. This diagnosis may be more likely if your child initially walked normally before starting to toe walk.
Toe walking has also been linked to autism.
WHY YOU WOULD WANT TO TREAT TOE WALKING
As the child grows and gains weight, toe walking can put severe pressure on the joints in the arch of the foot, eventually causing them to break down and develop a severe flat foot deformity.
Persistent toe walking may increase a child’s risk of falling.
It can also result in a social stigma if the child is perceived as “different” by peers.
HOW DO YOU TREAT TOE WALKING
- Physical therapy – gentle stretching of the muscles of the leg and foot
- Bracing- to help stretch the muscles
- Repetitive casting
- Surgery – in rare cases
If you have concerns about the way your child is walking, (even if it is something other than toe walking), email us or give our office a call at (845) 298-9074.
Hollowbrook Foot Specialist serving the Hudson Valley from Wappingers Falls.
By David Schlam