When children are beginning to walk, walking on the balls of their feet, also known as toe walking is fairly common and in most cases children outgrown it. Whist children may continue to walk on their toes past toddler years may do it out of habit, and it is often not a cause for concern, toe walking can sometimes arise from certain conditions, so it is good to check with your podiatrist or GP is your child is walking on their toes for an extended period of time.
When you attend your podiatrist they will assess your child’s walking patterns, muscle tone, balance and range of motion in their joints as well as a thorough family history and assessment of milestones. At times there may be a sensory or neurological problem or medical condition which may be contributing to the toe walking such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord abnormality, or sensory processing disorders. In other cases the cause may be unknown and idiopathic in nature, and in these cases the child is likely to grow out of it.
Once the cause for the toe walking is identified, a treatment plan will be discussed depending on what will work for you and your little one. If a sensory, neurological or medical in nature the treatment plan will vary significantly and you can read more about the different conditions related to toe walking here. In most cases we look first to conservative treatments such a stretching and strengthening, splinting, serial casting, heels raises or footwear recommendations however, surgery involving lengthening the Achilles can be considered.