Toe-Walking

Does anyone have experience with this?  Our G has walked on his toes shortly after he started walking.  DH walked on his toes as a child and I walked on my toes until 1st or 2nd grade.  I also grew up with a borderline-abusive father who would ‘correct’ my toe-walking by banging his fist on the top of my head to force me onto my heels.  So I fully admit I have issues on this topic that make it hard for me to make the right decision.  Or any decision, really.  When it comes to G, I’ve been very hands off about fixing it.  I assumed he’d grow out of it on his own and honestly, the thought of addressing it makes me nauseous. 

But, G’s OT is concerned.  And G has been complaining of pain in his legs lately, especially right after he gets up in the morning.  Once I asked him to stand on his heels while I applied sunscreen (It makes him more stable and I’m less likely to get it in his eyes) and he told me that he couldn’t because it hurt.  So I finally decided we needed to do something about it.  And again, it makes me feel sick. 

We sat in on his OT appointment yesterday where a visiting physical therapist checked him over.  She taught us a couple stretches to do with him after a warm bath that makes his muscles more limber.  And the OT has really pushed us to look into orthotics.  So we got a prescription from our family doctor and have an appointment today.  But I’m concerned about the stigmatizing aspect of this.  Our thought is that if he needs inserts in his shoes or specific shoes then we can have him wear them all summer, correct the problem, and send him to school next hear in regular sneakers so he won’t look different.  What I’d really like to do is continue ignoring this problem, but then wouldn’t his toe-walking make him stick out as different?  I also had a friend tell me to have him wear flip-flops all summer, as that would make him use his heels at least part of the time.  Would that work?

I need some help here.  What is the best thing for G in this situation?  What should I do?

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Published in: on May 28, 2009 at 5:56 pm  Comments (5)  

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  1. My daughter walked on her toes 99% of the time – it was an isolated thing, she was typically developing in other ways. We never found out the “why” but got her orthotics at 2.5 years old (physical therapy on its own didn’t correct the problem). The orthotics were fairly obvious – they looked like leg braces – but at 2.5 she didn’t really care. They could also easily be hidden under long pants. She wore them for about 6 months. The PT said that they retrained her brain to walk heel-toe. She also said it was important to walk heel-toe to 1) continue typical motor development 2) avoid a foreshortening of the calf muscle which could require surgery in the future and 3) avoid future back problems. Overall, we’re really happy with the results. She goes up on her toes occasionally, but she primarily walks heel-toe. I hope this helps!

  2. My daughter is 23 months old and is, also, a toe walker. At the beginning we thought it was actually kind of cute and part of her very strong personality, and the fact that she loves music and dancing as well was funny. But as time pass by, she keeps doing it and today we took her to her pediatrician and she referred us to a specialist, so we (my husband and I) are waiting for this upcoming appointment on June 22nd. By now, we have no clue what could it be, and I keep reading all these articles and just make me worry even more. My daughter’s pediatrician told us that it was a very common “habit” in toddlers and that we shouldn’t worry and just go ahead and see what the specialist will diagnose and tell us what to do. The pediatrician made my daughter walk barefeet this morning to check her waking and told us: “oh, she has to go to a specialist, FOR SURE”…..Anyway, I hope everything turns out for the best, and to have good news and se progress in my daughter’s development!

  3. Just remember that your “correcting” and helping him with is toe walking has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with your father “correcting” your toe walking. You are doing this out of love and because you think it may be what’s best for your little guy. You will be supportive, loving and compassionate…..that is nothing like what you experience.
    Be proud of yourself that you can do this differently than it was done to you!

  4. I wish I had answers for you. I’m looking forward to seeing what others suggest. I have a toe-walker too…

  5. I walked on my toes into adulthood, paid a terrible price to correct it when it began to affect hips, toes and posture later in life. Toe walking is physically harmful. Helping your son to walk heel first can be done creatively and supportively. What you experienced was punishing not encouraging. Get assistance from professionals and do your best!


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