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Toe Walking

What is toe walking?

Toe walking is defined as the failure of the heel to contact the floor at the onset of stance during the gait cycle, resulting in a bilateral toe to toe gait.

What are the causes?

There are different causes that can result in toe walking. First, it could be caused by congenital shortening of the Achilles tendon which causes the tendon to shorten if its full length is not being used. Also, neurological diagnoses include muscle spasticity associated with cerebral palsy and paralytic muscle disease, or as a sign of autism. Last, a sensory component could be affected by a vestibular/visual dysfunction, a sensory processing disorder, or retained infant reflexes such as ATNR/STNR associated with developmental delay.

Is toe walking a concern?

Toe walking is common when children are learning to walk, but most children outgrow this type of gait and progress to the correct heel to toe pattern. If your child is a toe walker past the age of three, please contact your doctor to ask for a physical therapy referral.

How does physical therapy assist with toe walking?

Physical therapy can help decrease toe walking by addressing any muscle length, strength, or balance deficits that may be contributing to your child's toe walking. Some activities include but are not limited to animal walks, stretches, scooter board, and more. Call your physician for a referral to The SpOT Clinic if you see concerns of toe walking in your kiddo!

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