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Toe Walking Tips for Children

Has your child been diagnosed as an idiopathic toe walker? Don’t panic, we can help! Let’s walk through some treatment ideas that you can perform at home.

 

Backwards Walking

Backwards walking is an easy and effective way to teach your child to keep their heels down. Walking backwards can be fun and incorporated easily within your home throughout the day.

Penguin Walking

Another great way to encourage heel contact is penguin walking. Penguin walking means walking with only the heels down and toes pointing toward the sky. This exercise is a great way to strengthen the top foot muscles that may be weak from prolonged toe walking.

Monster Walks or Stomp Walking

Finally, monster walks or stomp walking allows the full foot to be in contact with the ground and decreases the opportunity for toe walking. The goal of each exercise is to change the foot position during step taking and retrain the body to obtain a more normal walking pattern.

Each home exercise should be performed daily and made fun for your child.

 

Toe walking can be a normal occurrence for children who are just learning to walk, however, if toe walking persists past age 3 it may be time to dig a little deeper. Toe walking can have a variety of causes including heel cord tightness, neurological condition, sensory processing issues/Autism or idiopathic/habit. Prolonged toe walking places abnormal stress on developing bones and ligaments, causing pain and impaired function as a child grows. Treatment approaches depend upon the root cause of toe walking, so it is important to have your child evaluated by a trained professional in order to determine the best course of action.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s toe walking reach out to your pediatrician, physical therapist or occupational therapist.

– Amanda Zimmerman, PT, DPT