Toe Walking – Is it Normal and will My Child Grow Out of It?
She looks like a ballerina with every step she takes. Her toe walking, while at first cute and endearing, is now a concern. Why does she do it? Will she grow out of it? Is she causing damage to her feet? Find out here.
Toe walking is common in toddlers as they begin to learn to walk. While most children grow out of toe walking by age 3, others don’t. This can cause concern for many parents, as toe walking can be a symptom of an underlying problem. Toe walking can also lead to gait abnormalities.
Parents of toe walkers have questions. In order to effectively answer those questions some information must first be gathered about the child and the frequency with which they toe walk.
1. Does the child walk on their toes the majority of the time?
2. Can the child walk flat-footed if asked?
3. Can they stand with their heels on the floor?
4. Does the child have otherwise normal growth and development?
5. Does the child have any leg or foot pain?
6. Does the child limp or have a waddling gait?
7. Does the child have tight heel cords?
Should You Be Concerned?
To begin, it is important to understand that the vast majority of children who do not stop walking on their toes are often doing so out of habit. For most children this habit will eventually stop around age 5. This is called idiopathic toe walking. Children with idiopathic toe walking are healthy, able to keep up with other children, walk with straight knees and are able to stand with their feet flat on the ground. Other causes of toe walking can include a short Achilles tendon, as well as tight calf and hamstring muscles. More serious conditions include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and autism.
Toe walking does not necessarily indicate an underlying problem for the child; however, it is something parents should keep an eye on.
When to See a Doctor
Parents should talk to their pediatrician if the toe-walking child is over the age of two. They should come to the appointment armed with the answers to the questions listed above. This valuable insight will help the pediatrician determine the cause of the toe walking and determine the best treatment option.
Treatment Options for Toe Walking
Parents of toe walkers should help their kids do specific stretching exercises to loosen the calf and hamstring muscles while strengthening the muscles on the front of the legs. These include calf stretches, Achilles tendon stretches and sit to stand exercises.
For children requiring more aggressive treatments, the doctor may prescribe a series of casts and/or bracing devices to slowly help the child walk normally. In rare cases surgery may be recommended as a treatment option. Botox has recently been introduced as a treatment option to temporarily weaken the calf muscles and prevent toe walking.
Toe walking should not be a concern for parents before the child reaches the age of two. If you have concerns about your child’s toe walking, schedule an appointment with our experienced team of pediatric providers. To learn more about toe walking, visit Rainbow Pediatrics online or call 910-486-5437.