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Toe Walking In Children – What Parents Need To know

Idiopathic Toe Walking

What are the causes of Idiopathic Toe Walking?

A child can develop toe walking at any age caused by hypermobility, which can be part of normal development and increased flexibility, often seen in the under 5’s. For many children they first start to walk on their toes, with heel contact  achieved by 22 months. When toe walking persists beyond this time, it is time to seek the advice of an experienced health professional.

What To Expect At Your First Appointment

During an assessment you will be asked about your family history, as some conditions can be heredity causing a congenital short Achillies tendon or an inherited muscular dystrophie.

Consider did your child have a delay in reaching milestones; crawling, walking or has your child not managed to reach some milestones at all?

Furthermore, if a child has previously shown heel contact whilst walking but now cannot,  then neurological conditions need to be considered.

Toe walking can occur due to a muscle imbalance as a result of weakened knee extensors and tight hamstrings and calf muscles.

Is the toe walking unilateral or bilateral?

Management Plan

Once a diagnosis of Idiopathic Toe Walking has been diagnosed an appropriate management plan will be chosen, with the aim being to establish a heel-toe gait pattern. This can be a difficult process with the child in essence having to break habitual patterns and learn to walk again. It is very hard to rewrite a learned reflex from brain to spinal cord. Success is achieved when both child and family work together to establish the new unconscious walking pattern.

‘Daily active’ (child performs) and ‘passive’ (someone else performs) stretches will be advised to reduce some of the soft tissue tightness with the option of night splints. If conservative interventions prove unsuccessful a surgical opinion may be prescribed.

In the first instance it is advisable to book your child for a podiatry assessment by our in-house Musculosketal Podiatrist, Mr Graeme Carter.

Mr Carter is available for private consultations every Wednesday( Buxton 01298 937921) Thursday (Chapel-en-le-Frith 01298 937921) or Friday (Bakewell 01629 259672).