Helping kids of all ages to live a more active life through FUNctional movement.
Toe walking is exactly what it sounds like. It is a pattern of walking where a child walks on the balls of their feet with no contact between the heels and the ground. It is common in children under the age of 2 who are just starting to learn how to walk but as we become more proficient at walking, a typical heel strike pattern should emerge. However, for some kids, this does not happen.
Worried parents are often told by doctors that children will outgrow the condition. This is true…but only in 80% of cases. The other 20% of kids will NOT outgrow the issue, but you won’t know until it’s MUCH MUCH more difficult to treat.
When babies and toddlers first start to walk, their walking pattern often looks like a waddle with wide legs for extra stability, and sometimes walking on their toes due to uncoordinated muscle activation. Typically we start seeing the heel hit the ground before the toes at approximately 18-24 months of age. In toe walkers, this heel strike may not occur at all, or may only occur some of the time.
There are a few causes of toe walking: it can be due to certain medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or other neurological conditions; but often it is “idiopathic” meaning there is no medical reasoning for it. Some contributing factors could be:
Did you know that a physiotherapist can help fix your child’s toe walking? In physiotherapy, we start with a comprehensive assessment of each child to see what combination of factors is contributing to toe walking. Once we have a better idea of what the root cause might be, we can start providing individualized treatment options which might include a combination of:
The trick here is that you intervene as soon as possible. If you decide to “wait and see”, you will miss the best and easiest times to remedy the problem. Act now!
Le Cras S, Bouck J, Brausch S, Taylor-Haas A. Evidence-based Clinical Care Guideline for Management of Idiopathic Toe Walking. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Guideline 040, pages 1-17 (2011).