Walking on Tiptoes
Toe walking (equinus gait) is usually normal in young children under the age of three. Children usually learn to walk at around 12 months of age. As they practice their walking, they often try different foot positions, such as walking on tiptoes or ‘toe walking’. By the age of three, however, most children have learned to walk steadily with their feet flat on the ground. A child who persistently toe walks beyond the age of three should be assessed by a podiatrist.
Some instances of toe walking have a known cause such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism and tight Achilles tendons. Toe walking may also be associated with autism, developmental delay and sensory processing problems. Other instances of toe walking are idiopathic, or of unknown cause. Toe walking is more common in babies born prematurely, and in 30 to 70 per cent of cases a family history may be attributable.
Beyond the age of three, persistent toe walking can lead to calf muscle and hamstring tightness that makes it hard to wear shoes, stand with a flat foot, squat, maintain balance, climb stairs or keep up with in sports or other exercise.
Based on the findings a combination of treatment options may be prescribed including:
- Custom orthotics.
- Night splinting.
- Prescribed stretches for the Achilles tendon.