Tips for Toe Walkers
Toe walking is a common occurrence we find in young ones when they begin independently walking. It is a tricky thing to address as there are multiple different reasons why the kiddo is not walking with flat feet. Before the age of 2-3, toe walking should not be a concern as most kids will normalize their gait with time.
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Neurological or Musculoskeletal:
Oftentimes toe walking can be an outward sign of an underlying issue such a Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Autism, or shortened Achilles tendon. This is the first thing that we must rule out, which can be done with a history and physical exam by your pediatric physical therapist.
If the child is hyper or hyposensitive, they may not like the feeling of various surfaces on their feet. This could lead to toe walking to avoid full foot contact.
Treatment for toe walking:
It varies based upon the findings of a physical therapy examination. Sometimes it may just be a habit. A playful strategy used could be to have the child walk around the house in swim flippers. This promotes full foot contact. Try adding a small squeak toy under their heel or have them wear “heely” shoes to encourage them to put their heels to the ground. For neurological or musculoskeletal treatments, your physical therapist will provide passive stretching, balance training, and core/leg/hip strengthening to correct the child’s gait. A final option would be to use orthotics, splints, or outpatient surgery to stretch the heel cords.
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