Helping Our Children Grow: Does Your Child Toe-Walk?

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Parents of small children worry about all kinds of things. Will my child ever be able to sleep through the night? My daughter is small – is she getting enough nutrition? Is teething causing my baby’s fever?

We often worry about our child’s feet too, especially if something looks wrong or the child’s walking development doesn’t appear to be normal. For example, many Moms and Dads visit us with concerns when their toddler walks on her toes almost all the time.

Toe-Walking Is a Common Behavior in Young Children

Many toddlers walk on their toes, but this phenomenon usually disappears as they grow. In fact, more than half of children who walk on their toes, or on the balls of the feet, will stop this behavior by age 5.

Podiatrists don’t really know why children toe-walk. This behavior may be related to nerves or muscles or a combination of both, or to other unknown factors. Toe-walking may go along with certain disorders such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, but it can also occur in other children; these cases are called idiopathic toe-walkers.

Facts on Toe-Walking

  • For most children, toe-walking may be a habit and does not point to an underlying problem.

  • Idiopathic toe-walking can run in families.

  • Many of those children who toe-walk are really developing normally.

  • Walking on the toes may result in stiffness, tightening and Achilles tendon pain.

  • Children under age 7 usually don’t require treatment for toe-walking unless the Achilles tendon or calf muscles have been shortened.

  • Tightness in the Achilles tendon can be eased with stretching exercises that can be easily done during resting activities like reading and watching TV.

How We Treat Persistent Toe-Walking

At PodiatryCare PC, and the Heel Pain Center, we urge you to bring your child in for an examination if he or she is toe-walking after the age of 2. We will check for tightness in the calf muscles of Achilles tendon as well as look for any lack of coordination.

If we find that a physical problem is affecting the toe-walking, we can use:

  • Physical therapy to stretch the calf muscles and Achilles tendon gently.

  • Leg braces or splints to encourage a normal gait.

  • A series of casts to gradually move the toes more toward the shin.


Surgery, if needed, can lengthen the affected muscles or tendons.

Please Come See Us If You Have Any Concerns about Your Child’s Foot Health

The foot specialists at PodiatryCare, PC and the Heel Pain Center have extensive experience in treating all aspects of foot problems. Our team of doctors which consists of Dr. Robert Marra, Dr. Thomas Johnson, Dr. Kristen Winters, Dr. Laura Vander Poel, and Dr. Ryan Donegan is dedicated to serving you with all of the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies. Many treatments and surgeries can be handled right in our offices. Please call us at (860) 741-3041 to make an appointment in one of our offices conveniently located in Enfield, Windsor and South Windsor, CT.