1. Why is my child toe walking?

One very common question for us is, “should I be worried that my child is walking on their toes?”  Toe walking is surprisingly common and can be due to a number of reasons. It can lead to problems in the future and therefore should be addressed early.

  1. What is toe walking?

Toe walking (or ‘idiopathic toe walking’) refers to when children predominantly walk on their tiptoes for no apparent reason after the age of three years.

  1. When to seek help?

It is recommended that you seek input from a professional if your child is:

  • Over the age of three
  • Walking on their toes more than 80% of the time
  • Unable to stand with flat feet
  • Frequently falling or tripping
  1. Why does my child toe walk?

There are a number of reasons why children walk on their toes. These include:

  • Sensory integration issues (i.e. seeking more sensory input)
  • Neurological reasons such as atypical muscle tone
  • Developmental delay
  • Visual field impairments (e.g. challenges with depth perception)
  • Structural issues in the feet, ankles or knees (e.g. range of movement restrictions)
  • Habit
  1. Will my child outgrow their toe walking?

It is very unlikely that children over the age of three years old will stop toe walking without intervention.

  1. What will happen if my child continues to toe walk?

Unfortunately if left untreated, toe walking can lead to further complications as your child gets older such as:

  • Pain in their feet, ankles, knees and/or back
  • Foot deformities
  • Tightness and restricted movement in their ankles
  • Difficulty with gross-motor skills such as using stairs, jumping and squatting
  • Frequent falls due to poor balance
  1. How is toe walking treated?

The treatment approach depends on the reason for toe walking, but may include:

  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Calf stretches
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Gait retraining
  • Foot or ankle splints

For more information on toe walking please contact your physiotherapist or occupational therapist.