When children first learn to stand they often push up onto their toes as they have not yet learned what muscles to turn on and which to turn off. They turn on everything to get up against gravity into standing. With practice over the first few months, they should learn to stand and step with their heels down and feet flat. Within six months of independent walking (walking without hand-holding) their walking pattern should mature to look a little like ours, heel to toe pattern. For some children, they continue to walk on their toes for no reason and others because of changes in their muscle activity caused by neurological problems. Prolonged toe walking can make their calf muscles tight but also weak. This makes learning to balance, run, jump and hop difficult for your child. Prolonged toe walking can also make structural changes to your child’s feet affecting their shoe choices in the future. Preventing the calf muscle from getting short (tight) is very important, as late management requires serial casting to stretch the muscle out.
How can Physio help?
Louise can assess your child’s muscles to help determine the cause and teach specific stretches and exercises to help correct the walking pattern.