In the first 24 months children’s feet are normally flat on the ground. By 3 years of age, they should develop a heel-toe pattern. Some children will walk on their toes – this is not a natural pattern. Over the long-term toe walking can cause:
- muscle shortening
- painful joints
- poor balance
- difficulty with gross motor activities, such as jumping.
Due to neurological or musculoskeletal conditions that cause the calf muscle to tighten and shorten. Toe walking may be a sensory avoiding or seeking behavior that co-exists with ASD.
A result of how a child has learnt to use their feet. If they have been in equipment such as Jolly Jumpers and Baby Walkers.
They may not like the “feel” under their feet; for example walking barefoot on sand, grass or cold tiles.
Exercises and Stretches
- Walking in swimming flippers, this forces the heel of the foot to be the first point of contact to the ground.
- Climbing up slides/walls, this creates a stretch on the calf muscles
- Bear walking keeping heels on ground
- Walking like a duck
- Squatting down to pick up rocks
- Using a towel or having a parent help bring your foot up towards your nose whilst keeping the straight knee and/or slightly bent. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- You can also stretch in standing or with your heels hanging off the edge of a step.
- Shoes with a heavy heel, for example ski boots can be worn.
- Shoes that light up can encourage a heel strike.
- In some instances, AFOs, night splints and casting might be
required to regain calf muscle length.
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