Any parent who sees the transition from crawling to cruising to walking knows the process is a mixed bag. Fun to watch? Absolutely. Graceful? Not exactly.
Toe walking is common when kids begin experimenting with independent steps. For most, it’s a pit stop on the road to reliable mobility. But for some, those heels don’t come back down.
Not all toe walkers are the same.
For some, it’s a sensory issue. Going up on toes is a way to either seek or avoid that additional input. To others, it’s a matter of instability. Kids who excessively pronate will push up on their toes to feel more secure.
Toe walking can also be a habit that develops thanks to an underlying issue. Poor postural control and carrying body weight too far forward are two examples that can cause kids to favor their toes.
That depends on why the toe walking began, how long it’s been going on, and the severity. Some kids do outgrow it. Others don’t. There’s no guarantee.
If toe walking isn’t addressed, it can become your child’s natural walking pattern. And this potentially leads to a variety of problems:
· Tightness in calf muscles & Achilles tendons
· Pain in the ball of the foot
· Inability to come down off toes
When kids first start taking steps, some toe walking is normal. They’re experimenting. Most shed the clumsy steps and bad habits and develop a normal walking pattern.
But if your child has been walking longer than a year and still toe walks 50% of the time or more, don’t ignore it.
The best place to start is discussing your concerns with a pediatrician.
You may get a “wait and see” prescription. But if your gut says there’s a problem, don’t let that be a dead-end. Schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist or an orthotist.
If you need help finding an orthotist in your area, call Surestep at 877-462-0711.
Surestep designed a modification to its SMOs specifically for toe walking. It features a posterior extension. Although not painful, it gently presses into the back of the calf any time your child toe walks. This serves as a reminder to come back down.
Other toe walking braces, such as AFOs, can limit range of motion. This inhibits your child’s muscle development, function, gait pattern, and gross motor skills. However, depending on the severity, type, and underlying cause of the toe walking, AFOs may be the best solution. Your physical therapist or orthotist will be able to determine your child’s individual needs.
But the Surestep Toe Walking SMO is unique. It does not completely block plantarflexion, which is a fancy way of saying point toes. Your child will be free to run, jump, climb stairs, squat, play and just be a kid.
Minus the toe walking.
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