July 29, 2020

Stay off those toes!

Toe walking may seem cute, but can lead to all kinds of trouble.

Stay off those toes!

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Walking on your toes at 2 or 3 months old – you’re in a bit of trouble!

Toe walking is, well, pretty much as the name implies – a pattern of walking on the balls of your feet without touching the ground with your heels.  While ballerinas may be graceful and beautiful, this is not what you want to see for your little. 

Unfortunately, toe walking can lead to a host of issues. Our bodies are meant to use the entire foot when walking. When we only use part of it, we develop that muscle more than others. This can lead to poor muscle development and restrict motion of the foot and leg. Worse still, undeveloped muscles can lead to pain. When our littles hurt, they often withdraw from physical activity, leading to a lack of developing other muscles. It’s a vicious circle!

Toe walking can even lead to distorted depth perception. Think about the difference in space between your foot and the ground when trying to step flat versus on your toe – tripping can become a constant!

Now, if your kiddo occasionally pops up on his or her toes, don’t worry. It takes four weeks of consistent pattern for us to really consider this an issue, not a few days or even a week. However, it is important to be on the lookout for. Toe walking past two years old is not normal, and at even four months old we may need to start looking into more invasive treatments, like ankle orthotics. 

Let’s look at some of the ways you can help your child work through it!

Different Shoes

Try more “fun” shoes. Wearing cowboy boots, rain boots, or even flippers can make a difference! the clunkier the shoe, the easier it is to step in a flat fashion.

Squat it out

The squat position is MONEY when it comes to developing leg muscles. Using toys and different activities on the floor, encourage prolonged squatting in your little.

Single Heel Touches

Place an object on the ground, at least a few inches tall, and have your kiddo “step” on the object while walking. Ideally, you would set up a few of these objects and have them perform the step, alternating the leg each time. This will help normalize the gait and remove the option to toe step.

Back it up

Walking backwards encourages a weight shift towards the heels and leads to the lifting of toes. Make a fun game out of it and race your little in a backwards walk!

Slider pulls

Using two flatish objects like frisbees or discs, place each one under the heel of your child’s feet. Then, have them try to drag their feet, effectively dragging the objects! If their heels stay flat, the objects should slide right along with them.

The good news? Therapy can most definitely help with toe walking. The harder news – it requires work. Anything that takes weeks to develop will take some time to reverse. Typically, it takes three months of independent walking for your little to adopt a mature gait. 

If you see your little toe walking for about a month, be sure to contact me. We can work together to better understand their issue and finding a solution!

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