Toe Walking

Toe walking is not unusual in younger children who are just beginning to walk and otherwise growing and developing normally. However, toe walking after age 3 years should be evaluated by a doctor. Persistent toe walking in children has been identified as a potential early sign of autism.

Toe walking refers to a condition where a person walks on his or her toes without putting much weight on the heels or any other part of the foot. Doctors sometime refer to this as “idiopathic” toe walking when the cause is unknown. Talk to your doctor about your child's toe walking. Your doctor may recommend an evaluation, including a neurological examination and testing for language and other developmental delays.

Nonoperative treatment of toe walking includes observation, stretching, casting, and orthotics. Stretching of the Achilles must employ the child’s own body weight. Parents should help the child stretch by having the child stand with the forefoot elevated on a small block so that the heel may drop downward. The parents steady the child and add gentle pressure to the stretching process.

In a second technique, the child leans forward against a counter, with feet together and pointed straight forward, knees straight, and hips extended. Again, parents assist by steadying the child and adding gentle pressure. Progressive stretch is accomplished by increasing the distance from the counter.
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