What is toe walking?
Toe walking is a term used to describe someone’s gait (or walking style) in which their heel doesn’t make contact with the ground. The absence of heel contact may occur periodically or could be completely absent. Toe walking, which may also be referred to as tip-toeing, is often seen in children under the age of 3. x
Why does my child toe walk?
There are many reasons why a child may toe walk, each with a slightly different presentation. The good news is that it is estimated 7-24% of all children will toe-walk at some point in their early years (Sobel et al 1997). Children will likely demonstrate toe-walking when they are 2-3 years old and often progress naturally into a more normal gait over the next 12 month period. However, this isn’t the progression for all children. There are occasionally other underlying causes for toe walking in children. These other, more serious, causes require a full assessment before diagnosis.
What might treatment look like?
Management for a child’s toe-walking is always dependant on the severity and also if there is an underlying cause. In most cases, conservative management is the path that is taken. Conservative management may include:
- Wait and see approach. This involves an annual review to assess the progression of the child’s gait.
- Stretching exercises
- Changes in footwear
However, not all cases can be resolved with conservative management. These more severe cases, which are identified through a range of assessments, will often require a more aggressive line of treatment. Treatment may include:
- Botox injections
- Achilles lengthening procedure
When should I bring my child to see a podiatrist?
All children develop at different rates, which can make it difficult to decide whether or not to take your child along to the podiatrist. With toe walking children it’s always a good rule to be proactive rather than reactive. But what other things should you keep in mind?
- If your child is struggling to keep up with kids of a similar age
- Falls are increasing with age
- If toe-walking is continuing after the age of 3
- Premature birth or low birth weight
Or if you just want peace of mind, an assessment may be all you need!
If you, or anyone you may know, have any questions, please feel free to email me on the address below. Alternatively, make an appointment with myself or any of our team members on 1300 945 789 or book online.
Pro Feet Podiatry
Sobel E, Caselli MA, Velez Z 1997 Effect of persistent toe walking on ankle equinus. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association 87(1):17–22