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Recognizing Common Gait Problems in Kids

It’s a proud moment for any parent, those first baby steps. Parents record them on video, share them on social media, and brag about them to their friends. First steps are big milestones—though they are usually awkward. Add gait problems to the mix and your young child can appear to be walking quite oddly. Most parents are, understandably, concerned when their child’s early walking doesn’t seem normal. The truth about most gait problems, though, is that they are pretty common.

It takes children years to learn to walk and run with a recognizably adult stride or cadence. Just balancing enough to stay upright is a feat at first! As your child takes his or her first steps, the feet and legs have a hard time coordinating their movements. Tripping, falling, walking awkwardly—all of this is normal for a new walker. Even after your child gets the hang of toddling around, each step will still look very different from yours for several years, until his or her feet get stronger and more coordinated.

Still, children can have gait problems that make their already awkward walking even more unusual. Intoeing, out-toeing, and toe walking are some of the most common challenges kids face:

Intoeing – Toes appear to point in toward each other when your child stands or walks. This can be noticeable from birth, or later when your child starts walking.

Out-toeing – In this rarer condition, your child’s toes appear to point outward. Most often it’s an issue in the hips, though it could be a twist in the shin or thigh bones, or even a symptom of a neuromuscular problem.

Toe walking – Sometimes children learn to walk on just their toes. While this doesn’t always signal a problem, sometimes it’s a symptom of a short Achilles tendon.

The good news is that these are fairly common conditions and they usually correct themselves without causing real trouble. In most cases, foot experts like our team at Absolute Foot Care Specialists simply want to monitor your child’s feet to make sure the gait problems do straighten out as they should. That way, if the issues seem to by symptoms of bigger conditions, they can be addressed right away. Make an appointment to have your child’s feet checked out by calling (702) 839-2010, or by using our web request form.

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