Toe Walking

Does your child often walk on her toes? Does she always walk on her toes? This can often happen with young children, and may be normal until the mature heel-toe pattern develops, usually by 18 months. If your child continues to consistently walk on her toes well beyond this age, it may cause problems such as foot and ankle pain, or make it more likely that she’ll fall while walking.

Toe-walking may be connected to a specific diagnosis, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Some children do it because they have one leg longer than the other. It is also common for children with autism to walk with this pattern. If there is no known reason for the toe-walking, it is said to be idiopathic toe-walking. Idiopathic toe-walking occurs more frequently in boys, tends to run in the family, and is often accompanied by language delays and learning disorders.

A child who toe-walks does not always require therapy. The decision to treat depends on the child’s age, available range of motion in the ankle, muscle shortening, motor development, sensory issues, and the presence of a specific diagnosis such as cerebral palsy.

How can I help my child who walks on her toes?

At CTS, our physical therapists can help determine possible causes of toe-walking, and create an exercise program to address those issues. The program will likely include stretching, strengthening, and functional movement exercises, often disguised as games to help motivate your child.