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The More You Know: Why Your Child is Toe Walking

Walking is great exercise for people at any age. It’s the most natural and normal form of transportation, but even walking starts out difficult when you’re a child. Learning to walk is quite the process. Kids have to first learn to balance, then coordinate their feet to take a few steps. Sometimes children can develop some odd habits during this process, including walking on tip-toes. Called toe walking, this unusual gait can concern many parents, who are generally afraid their child won’t be able to walk normally or participate in sports later.

Interestingly enough, walking on toes instead of the whole sole may or may not be a problem. For some children, this is simply how they learn to walk or “cruise” while holding onto furniture. They eventually outgrow this gait abnormality and learn to walk in the normal heel-toe way. For other children, however, toe walking is a sign of bigger problems.

Toe walking can be connected to larger issues like a tightened or abnormally short Achilles tendon. This would prevent your child from being able to stand flat-footed, as well as restrict motion in the ankle joint. Other times it’s a symptom of a larger disorder—such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Occasionally, it can even be connected to conditions like autism.

The only way to truly tell why your child is walking on tip-toes instead of the whole foot is to have your son or daughter’s feet evaluated, but there are some clues that may signal it’s a problem:

It lasts past age two – Most children outgrow the habit by about age two.

Muscles seem stiff or tight – The Achilles or calf might be too short or tight, forcing the heel off the ground.

Your child is uncoordinated or walks awkwardly – Other motor issues might signal a larger disorder.

Your child can’t bear weight on a flat foot – The inability to flatten the foot will make it difficult for your child to walk normally later.

Toe walking may or may not be a problem. If you’re concerned about your child’s walking, though, don’t just wait and wonder. Let Absolute Foot Care Specialists evaluate the problem and determine what needs to be done. Use our website to make an appointment with us. You can also call our Las Vegas offices directly at (702) 839-2010.

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