As a child I can recall walking down the street with my mom, my older brother a few meters ahead of us. As we walked my mom instructed “heel, toe, heel, toe”. She was concerned because although he was nearing his teen years my brother was still a frequent tiptoe walker. This was a practice he’d retained from childhood and I was starting to model his behaviour.
Tip Toe walking is commonplace until approximately the age of three years old. After such time a normal heel to toe gait pattern typically emerges. Toe walking that continues past this age can lead to tight Achilles tendons, which perpetuates the toe walking. Young children can also be distracted while walking and, in addition to tripping and veering; toe walking can be a hazard of this behaviour. However, it can also be a symptom of a more serious condition such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Typically these cases also present with additional symptoms and milestone delays. If there is ever a concern about a more serious cause seek the advice of your pediatrician or family physician.
It is important for parents to outfit children in supportive footwear that fits correctly and sometimes a helpful “heel, toe” reminder can aid their normal gait development. If you are concerned about your child’s toe walking ask one of our Canadian Certified Pedorthist for their guidance.