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Conditions

Tip-toe Walking

tip-toe walking

Lots of toddlers walk only on their tip-toes for a while and, like thumb-sucking or comfort blankets, most will simply grow out of it. There are, however, certain factors to look out for as the condition may indicate another, more serious problem which could need specialist attention.

Tip-toe walking means your child is only using the balls of the feet, and that the heel is not really coming into contact with the ground. For most kids this lasts 2-3 months while they learn to walk (at between 10 and 18 months) and once they’ve got the hang of taking proper steps their gait will be completely normal.

If tip-toe walking lasts longer than three months however, or if your child is still doing it after the age of three, there’s a danger that the calf muscles and general posture will be damaged. A pair of firm boots which cover the ankle will help him or her take normal steps, and so will ‘training’ sessions where you concentrate on waking together. If this doesn’t work your doctor or physiotherapist will be able to recommend special stretching exercises designed to loosen the Achilles tendon and other ankle muscles, tightness in which can cause tip-toe walking, and if there’s a more serious physical problem your doctor may suggest the temporary use of a brace.

In rare cases however, tip-toe walking can be one of the symptoms (alongside a more general difficulty in performing fiddly tasks) of mild cerebral palsy or a developmental disorder such as autism, so it’s important to keep an eye on the condition and let your doctor know about any associated changes. In most cases however, particularly with a bit of gentle parental help, tip-toe walking is a phase that will pass and will leave no lasting damage.

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My son is 4 and is always on his toes he can walk flat footed if prompted but always goes back on his toes. I have asked two different drs about this and got the same response as most of the other parents "they will grow out of it". Now my husband has concerns about it being linked to autism, I know he hasn't got autism but still confused as to why he does it. I am currently waiting for a physio referral to try and establish the cause if any. I think its a habit but don't want it to affect him as he gets older with pains and hip problems. Its good to read these comments feels less of an issue.





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I'm 16 and toe walk but it seems so natural to me what should I do?





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Yeah that's what I wana know, I've been walking on my toes since I could walk and I am 17, people day I walk weird and I can hardly walk normal, my knees are bent inward , I had a boyfriend who walked like that, but he was pigeon toed and he only did it cause he started walking too early

I think more people need to know about primitive reflex treatment. By desensitising the plantar reflex the child should stop toe walking. The muscle/tendon shortening is a secondary effect not a primary cause.





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For anyone who has a young child and has seen this, I urge you to get them checked by an orthopaedic specialist and have them properly assessed. Our 14 yo has suffered greatly over the years from gradual tendon shortening and now has other issues such as hip and knee problems. This may not happen to your child of course, but if I can help educate parents and stop a child from having to go through the same thing our daughter has had to, then this post is worth it. Thank you Embarrassing Bodies for airing a topic that many parents have been experiencing but had no idea what to do about.





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My daughter 4 now has always walked on tip toe since she took her first step at 12 months. I was concerned but dismissed several times by my GP and helth visitors as they said it was a phase that she would grow out of. She,as most toe walkers, is full of bruises in her legs and hands as she's falls a lot - almost every day we get an accident report from her nursery. We finally after a lot of persistance from my part (as her feet were changing shape the bigger she got) finally have seen 2 orthopedic teams in the space of 2 years and she will have her feet in cast tomorrow for 8 weeks. If this doesn't work Doctor has said she"ll have an op next year. Finger cross it works... My boy that is 2 has started tip toeing but he does it on and off and i can see that he is goung thow the "phase" the doctors and health visitors were talking about. She never came off her tip toes so if your little one is not using the whole of the foot (not even as a rest position) at any point i would get it checked soon....





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My 5 1/2 year old son toe walks he hasbeen doing it since he started walking his docter said he would grow out of it and he has been devolping normally so not to worry , but this past year he wakes up alot of nights crying in pain I have to rub his ankle n calfs!! So today she finally gave me a referrel to the podiatrist and the orthotics Im concerned and worried I hope everything goes well I can't stand seeing my baby in pain!!! Does any one know what they will probably do or look for on the first visit? Thank you





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I have had the issue of toe walking since a kid, and I'm 45 now. I'm just now looking into some ways to reduce my calves. My mother ignored the issue. She thought it was 'cute'. Other than getting teased about being a ballerina or a "tippy toe" walker on occassion, I didn't really have (m)any issues growing up. There are no issues with balance; if anything, balance wil be stronger because you're not centered. What it WILL affect, though, is footspeed. Your child will never be able to sprint fast, because the foot plane won't give the foot leverage and push that it needs in, say, a 40 yard dash. Another thing you will notice is that your child will not be able to stay on their feet as long as someone who walks with normal gait. The MAJOR manifestation you will see, is that the calves will become huge. In my case, they're enormous. And because I have a long torso short leg body type, I look like the proverbial 'Alpine Man'. Once those calves get overdeveloped, there is little to nothing you can do to fix this, so I think this is one of the main reasons you should look into the matter more seriously. Cutting the tendons is a draconian measure for sure, but some discuss that as a way to reduce calf muscle. I'm not a MD or PhD in Medicine, Pediatrics or Orthotics, so my credibility is squat academically speaking, but I have lived the issue, and personally, I don't personally think the casts and such will address the issue. I believe that your child will need to be 're-programmed' to walk properly. I was unable to re-learn to walk properly, even being consciously aware of the toe-walking. On long walks, like a day long walk around a theme park, the walk would settle into the heels a bit because of fatigue. But - I have a new 'discoverydevelopment' I will share. It started when I was playing golf, and was told that I had no hips in my swing. I realized, from video, that I was "hip locked" . A large reason why I was "hip locked", is that I never used my hips walking, and developed my hips. I started doing hip stretches each morning, along with calf stretchs on a Power Systems calf stretch incline (metal, adjustable), and all of a sudden, my walk has more hips in it, and my heels seem to 'want' to touch the ground. It has changed my walk dramatically - but more naturally also. My recommendation; a rigorous routine of hip stretches and calf stretches. You've got to essentially get them to re-learn to walk, but subconsciously - not consciously or they will always revert back to toe walking. And to 're-program' the walk, you have to make it EASY for the body to walk naturally. It won't be easy without hip flexibilty, and dorsal flexibility.





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My daughter, who is currently 6, just about to turn 7..has been walking on her tip toes since the age of 3, when I spotted it. Through the whole process of getting her referred, it was very lengthy...she has had physio, plaster casts on both of her legs, she has had carbon fibre bottom boots (both of which she learned she could walk on her tiptoes with difficulty), with this not working, we then moved to Botox injections in both calves..which did work slightly but not to the extend we hoped....she has been wearing AFO splints to keep her feet in a rigid position, for 6-7 hours a day at school, she has learned how to tip toe with these, as her AFO splints have an ankle joint in them, so now we are back to the boots, which have just been ordered. We have not received any diagnosis as to why she is doing this, she doesn't suffer from any condition, but has merely developed a habit that is becoming harder and harder to break. We have however been told that she seems to be very flexible, almost double jointed..so it could have been that her hips needed to be made rigid when she was learning to walk, hence locking her hips out and learning to walk by tip toe walking.....All I know is that we are going through shoes like nobody's business....she has full movement, so there isn't (luckily) for the moment any tendon shortening, and we have been given the exercises to look out for the signs of this, and that she is VERY clumsy when she tries to run normally, and trips quite a bit, its worrying all the same.





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My 10 year old has walked in his toes since he could walk. Myself and my wife have never really thought to consult a doctor about this. He has said his muscles are never sore and it doesn't affect his life although he is not sporty because of asthma. Do we need to see a doctor to rectify the problem or is it nothing to worry about





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My Daughter didn't walk until she was 23 mths. when she was 5 I took her to our GP because she walked on he tiptoes. the GP said she will grow out of it. I wish I'd got a second opinion then but I waited about 6 months and took her to see another GP. My daughter was sent for physio in Dec 2011. In Feb 2012 she had her feet set in plaster cast for 4 wks. this made a 10 degree difference. my Daughter has been through several pairs of NHS boots which are actually very nice (not like the old days) She has always done her stretching exercises but her physio felt that she couldn't do any more for my little girl so she arranged for her to see an orthopaedic surgeon. we met him at the begining of Feb. He said about two thirds of children will grow out of toe walking with the help of casts and physio but he felt it wasn't helping my daughter and he thinks that surgery is the best option for her. she should be having her op towards the end of the year. My Daughter is very excited about going shoe shopping so that she can be the same as her friends at school! I'd love to know if anyone else's children has had the opperation and how it went and what the recovery after was like. And I'd like to advice anyone who has a Dr telling them that thier child will grow out of it, please just insist that it gets checked anyway.





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My daughter has had the operation at 14 last year. It was successful. Unfortunately because it was left untreated for so long she now has displacement of her hips and is still unable to walk without pain. The sooner you follow through with the operation and then Physio after the better in my experience. All the best for you little one and I'm sure it will be a success!





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