Toe-walking - what it means for your child

Toe walking is a pattern of walking in which a child walks on the balls of their feet, where their heels do not contact the ground.

Children who are learning to walk may walk on their toes. Most children who do toe-walk have idiopathic causes, in which the exact cause is unknown. In some children who toe walk, the length of the calves may be shorter at birth, or may shorten over time, which prevents the child from touching his or her heels to the ground. However, in most children who toe walk, the calves have sufficient length for the child's heels to touch the ground, however they may need frequent reminders to break the habit.

In some rare cases though, toe-walking could indicate an underlying neurological condition. Some of these include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or an abnormality with the spinal cord.

Podiatrists are well-equipped to assess, diagnose and manage children who toe walk by performing an extensive paediatric, neurological and biomechanical assessment.

With children who have sufficient flexibility and length in their calves, we are able to prescribe stretches and advice for parents to assist children in breaking their habit of toe-walking. Heel lifts and specialised footwear can also be prescribed to help children’s heels to “reach the ground”.

If an underlying medical condition is suspected or the length of the calves are too short (i.e. insufficient range of motion), podiatrists are able to refer on to paediatricians or other specialists where further and more extensive treatment such as casting/bracing to help stretch the muscles and tendons in the calves, surgical management or diagnosis of an underlying medical condition.

If your child has an abnormal gait, do not hesitate to book online or call 1800778316 to see one of our podiatrists today.

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