Children usually learn to walk at around 12 months of age.
As they practice their walking, they often try different foot positions, such as walking on tiptoes or ‘toe walking’.
By the age of two, however, most children have learned to walk steadily with their feet flat on the ground.
A child who persistently toe walks beyond the age of two should be assessed by a Podiatrist.
What causes Toe Walking?
Some instances of toe walking have a known cause, for example cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Toe walking may also be associated with autism, developmental delay and sensory processing problems.
Other instances of toe walking are idiopathic, or of unknown cause. Toe walking is more common in babies born prematurely, and in 30 to 70 % of cases a family history may be attributable.
What problems are associated with Persistent Idiopathic Toe Walking?
Beyond the age of three, persistent toe walking can lead to calf muscle and hamstring tightness that makes it hard to wear shoes, stand with a flat foot, squat, maintain balance, climb stairs, hop on one foot, skip or keep up with their peers in sports or other exercise.
How is Idiopathic Toe Walking diagnosed?
Your Podiatrist will take a comprehensive medical and developmental history and perform a physical examination including joint range of motion, foot posture, gait analysis, muscle strength and tone, balance and coordination assessment and a neurological screening test.
How is idiopathic Toe Walking treated?
A home therapy program is an important part of any treatment plan for persistent toe walking. This may incorporate:
- stretching and strengthening exercises
- sensory integration intervention to address any balance, coordination or proprioception problems
- the use of shoe stiffeners and stiff-soled footwear to make it difficult for your child to walk on their toes
- neurosensory foot orthotics
- night splinting for tight calf muscles
The podiatrists at Foot Health Clinic, Samford, include specialists in children’s foot problems. If your child is older than two years and is persistently toe walking, contact us.