Toe walking- problem or habit?

As a parent, your child’s first few steps will be imprinted in your mind forever. You will always remember the first few clumsy, wobbly steps and the smile on your little one’s face. However, some kids take a detour and start walking on their tip toes. The reason for this can be frightening for some parents, but rest assured, we are here to put your mind at ease with steps to follow and what to expect regarding therapy.

Why is my kid walking on their tip toes?

 There can be a number of reasons why some children walk on their tip toes, below is a list of a few reasons:

  • Physical causes:
    • Tight Achilles tendons
    • Tight calf muscles
  • Sensory causes:
    • Sometimes kids can present with some sensory difficulties underneath their feet and prefer to walk on their tip toes
  • Neurological causes:
    • Kids with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy often walk on their toes
  • Vestibular causes:
    • Kids with vestibular difficulties might present with toe walking due to the vestibular system not giving the brain accurate information regarding bodily movement
  • Idiopathic toe walking:
    • Some kids walk on their toes due to a habitual pattern of toe walking
  • Toe walking and autism:
    • Sometimes kids on the autism disorder spectrum can present as toe walkers

What can we do to help?

As a parent it’s absolutely normal to feel helpless and lost. The first thing to do is to contact your paediatrician to rule out any serious neurological or vestibular causes. If your child presents with idiopathic toe walking, book an appointment with your physiotherapist to guide you with specific exercises to help you child at home.

We can assist you and your child with a range of activities at home to break your child’s toe walking habit. These will take some dedicated effort at home and our physiotherapists will work with your whanau to establish the best methods of therapy. We also collaborate regularly with our occupational therapy colleagues regarding sensory retraining if this is an influencer of your child’s walking pattern.

Talk to one of our wonderful physiotherapist’s today to discuss treatment options available to assist with your tippy toeing little one.