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.
What are the causes?
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.
How to break the habit
- 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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