Twinkle Toes!
The Cause and Treatment for Toe Walking

Everyone wants to be like Mike, everyone always wants to be that little bit taller; to make the sports team, reach the highest shelf and to feel more confident. Toe walking is a skill we learn at a young age, however, after the age of three it should not continue to be a mannerism used unless trying to perform a specific task. There are a number of reasons a child may continue to toe walk; a desire to be taller, habit, structural abnormalities, neurological conditions and pain.

shutterstock_53256532.jpgA child who continues to toe walk may talk about their legs being sore or tired when out shopping or when on their feet for a long duration of time. You may notice that they try to stand on the point of their shoes or in fact just have an early heel lift as they walk. Additionally, they may dislike wearing shoes or dislike having their feet being touched.

Structural abnormalities which may influence toe walking are mostly associated with restricted ankle joint range of motion such as a bone block, tight calves or a shortened achilles tendon. These structural changes can lead to pain within the leg, heel or foot further increasing a child’s desire to walk upon their toes.
Although most commonly picked up by a general practitioner in the early years’ neurological conditions can sometimes present in the form of toe walking. Those conditions include but are not limited to; cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, aspergus and global development delay.

Treatment options for toe walking are mostly conservative in nature and aim to reduce stress upon body tissues and structures to make the transiting to a normal gait more easily completed. Treating the soft tissues of the body with techniques such as soft tissue massage, dry needling, stretching and foam rolling are most commonly used in conjunction with offloading devices such as heel wedging or orthotics. In rare cases surgery may be necessary, but it is important that all conservative measures are exhausted before involving such invasive treatments.

Until Next Time

Jackson McCosker
Director/ Chief Editor

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