While enjoying a day at the mall or the playground have you ever stopped to watch people walk? It is quite amazing all the different ways people walk. Even without understanding the cause or the consequences of a specific walking pattern, almost anyone can tell whether it is normal or not. One walking pattern that is commonly notice in children by their parents is toe walking. Toe walking is where the heel never touches the ground and the individual is walking on the balls of their feet. Don’t fret; toe walking is common in newly walking children. However, if this walking pattern continues it can cause changes that result in the need for medical attention.
Toe waking is not a huge concern until the Achilles tendon, the tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone becomes tight and shortened. This tendon may be shorter in newly walking children causing toe walking, however the majority of children grow out of this condition as they develop. If your child continues to toe walk past two or three years of age, this may be concerning and a trip to a podiatrist may be necessary. It is not uncommon for the child to form a habit of walking on their toes. That being said, if your child is past two or three years of age, the flexibly of the Achilles may be present and it is only a habit that needs to be broken.
If your child toe walks because of a short Achilles tendon, there are a few treatments that your doctor may suggest. These treatments include physical therapy to improve your child’s walking and to stretch the tendon. Leg braces or splints may also be prescribed to help your child regain proper walking techniques. When physical therapy and bracing do not work, your doctor may suggest serial casting which gradually lengthens the tendon back to a normal position. Finally, if none of these interventions work, surgery may be indicated to lengthen the tendons and muscles affected.
Although toe walking is common, it should not be overlooked if it continues throughout the development of your child. If you notice any changes in their foot health, please consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.