29 answers

Child Who Walks on Their Tiptoes

I have a four year old daughter who walks on her tiptoes. She has done this since she began walking at 14 months. I have asked her doctor about this numerous times and he assures me that she will grow out of it. I am starting to get concerned that it is not something she will grow out of and that it is affecting her muscles. We have an appointment to visit with a pediatric orthopedic doctor next month to address this issue. She is a very active and very healthy child who participates in lots of sports and dancing. We are working with her to walk flat footed and she is trying very hard. I just wanted any feedback from other moms that may have experienced this as well. Thanks!

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So What Happened?™

I just want to say thank you to all of the moms that responded in reference to my daughter walking on her tiptoes. We took her to an ortho doctor this week and he has decided that wearing braces from her knees down will be the best option for her. He feels that it could be a long term problem if she did not wear these. She has been fitted and we will now wait for them to arrive. It is stressful as we do not want her to be picked on by others her age but he feels that this will correct the problem and she may only need them for 6 months to a year. I would encourage any other parents who have children that are walking on their tiptoes to get it checked out. The doc said the earlier the better as we could have fixed this already! I just wanted to say thank you again for all of the wonderful advice. Hopefully this will put us on the road to recovery!

Featured Answers

I have a friend who's daughter did that, and she was diagnosed with a mild form of sensory integration disorder. My nephew has a more debilitaing form of it, so I am a little familiar with the disorder. Tip toe walking is just one symptom. Its worth ruling out.

It can be a problem if the child is not able to ever walk flat footed. The actual walking on the toes is only an issue when the heel cord is to tight that the child can not walk flat footed at all. So if she will never walk flat footed then you should be more concerned and I would get a second opinion. But if she just prefers to walk that way, then don't worry it will go away or she would be a great ballerina.

My middle child done the same. She walked on the knuckles of her toes and yes she did grow out of it. She is now 34yrs. old and sometimes tries to repeat this habit but with some pain LOL. Good luck

More Answers

So glad to see this... My 9 year old does this & has for several years, though I don't remember it becoming a habit until the last few years. She didn't do it as a toddler or preschooler. It is kind of annoying though. It just looks silly! I'll yell out "Heels!" to remind her to drop them. She mainly does it when bare footed and I think it is a purely subconscious thing for her. I still remember a boy from my grade school days that walked on his toes- all the time. I just thought it looked goofy, and I don't know that it is all that great for the Achilles tendons.

D.

A.,
I am a physical therapist that has 2 daughters of my own 2 years old and 6 months old. It is common for children to do though they typically grow out of it by 4 years old. I would recommend that you insist on a pediatric physical therapy consultation. If you need a recomdation in the charlotte area i would be happy to help. My personal email is ____@____.com
Let me know.
S.

It sounds like your child may have too short of an akeles tendon. It could also be just too tight and need some daily stretching. My daughter went through it at that age too. The doc wanted to do botox shots, which works, but I didn't want to go to that extreme yet. We started daily exercises of stretching to tendon, a little at a time or it will hurt. We also put her in leg braces that went up the calf, couldn't see them under her pants. And with alot of prayer she just one day started walking right. She didn't need the braces or stretching ever again. If you don't get anywhere with the docs then think about the daily stretching. You will be able to tell if the tendon is too tight if your child has discomfort when you stretch it. God Bless!

I just want to throw one other possibility out there. Everybody has given you great advice and one or more of them might be right.

But I went to a talk many years ago by Kelly Dorfman where she said toe walking could be a sign of an essential fatty acid deficiency.

What luck, I found someone's notes to that talk online:

http://www.autisminfo.com/dorfman.htm

Here is the part I was talking about:

She talked about essential fatty acid deficiency, some symptoms of which are: wax buildup in ears, restlessness, "permanent gooseflesh", "Albert Einstein
hair", toe walking, and excessive thirst. She recommends Total EFA by Health From the Sun, flaxseed oil, and Efalex Focus as replacements for the missing fatty acids. She says they rancidify quickly, so we should taste them every
other week to be sure they are still good.

My mother tells me I was at least 3 or 4 before I stopped walking on my toes. Now, I catch my daughter, almost 4, walking on her toes frequently. I agree with your doctor, she will eventually stop. If you are desperate, they make hard bottom soles for shoes for children that it might be difficult to tip-toe in. My mother-in-law insisted on buying my children some when they started walking, Striderite makes some for sure.

as far as I know, its totally normal for them to do that. LOTS of kids do that. Just about everyone I know has done it.

My daughter is almost three and has been walking on her toes since she started walking.....She has tethered cord syndrome and will be having surgery in cincinatti in a few months.... she also has a birth mark on her lower spine..... i would insist on an mri if you are still concerned

Hi there,
Others indeed have had this issue recently.

Check out the post and replies here:

http://www.mamasource.com/request/6164182161332109313

You definately need to get it checked out. I did the same thing as a 4-5 year old. At age 14 I was diagnoised with CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth). It is a form of Muscular Dystrophy. It is also known as Peroneal Muscular Atrophy. It can cause foot deformities and muscle weekness but is not fatal. I am now 38 years old and still active. I do wear leg braces and had several surgeries throughout my childhood. The first surgery I had at age 4 was a heal cord release. My heal cord was so tight that it made it nearly immpossible for me to put my heal flat on the floor. One of the other signs besides walking on toes and poor balance is high foot arches and small calves. CMT can be diagnosed by nerve conduction tests and also by genetic testing. For more information go to www.mdausa.org . You can pull up the different diseases that fall under Muscular Dystrophy and find out more about them. You can also look up your local MDA office who can help you get with doctors and the local Muscular Dystrophy clinics. There is an MDA clinic at Carolina Medical Center in Charlotte and also in Winston-Salem at Baptist Hospital. Please check it out. My parents used to tell me all the time to stop walking on my toes but I physically couldn't. Get her checked out for CMT. Good luck and if you have any other questions about it please feel free to send me an e-mail.

It can be a problem if the child is not able to ever walk flat footed. The actual walking on the toes is only an issue when the heel cord is to tight that the child can not walk flat footed at all. So if she will never walk flat footed then you should be more concerned and I would get a second opinion. But if she just prefers to walk that way, then don't worry it will go away or she would be a great ballerina.

I am a mother of 6, with #7 due in Sept. All of my children have walked on tip-toes, and I did as a child, as well. (Actually two of my children will walk on their toe knuckles...they say it doesn't hurt at all, and they look like they belong in the ballet with their strong leg muscles!)
Much like another Mother said, I still tip-toe occaisionally when I am barefoot. One connection I have witnessed is that my children and I are all 'high-arched' and so it can be more comfortable to walk with more pressure on the pad of the foot rather than the heel.
Something else I came across in the late 90's, when my oldest was starting to tip-toe, was an article that linked tip-toeing to stuttering...the connection? High intelligence. I wish I could find that resource now to help comfort you, but I am pretty sure it was a magazine in the pediatrician's office.
Of course, I think all of my kids are smart;), but the connection was close to home for me because my genius-brother had a terrible stutter as a child, while I tip-toed everywhere I went until I was put into an advanced class in grade school. It seems that the same part of the brain is affected, and a stutterer tries to get the words out faster than their mouth can form the words, while tip-toeing children are subconsciously getting a 'higher' perspective.
I would keep the appointment with the Ortho, but also try getting an IQ test for her and see if you are dealing with someone who just needs to be more mentally stimulated, as well as a comfy pair of shoes!
Hope this helps...best regards.

I saw someone else ask this question a while back,and people started suggesting that it could be a sign of autism and they need to get it checked out. I actually laughed when I read those responses, because this is SO COMMON. I see tons of kids walking on their tiptoes, and they are NOT autistic. Anyway, I'd think that constant reminders are the only thing that will help. Practice makes perfect. My daughter is 2 and does the same thing. I'm constantly telling her to put her heels down. Good luck!!

I have a 5 year old girl and a 2 year old boy who both walk on their tiptoes. Their Grandfather also walks on his tiptoes and has since he was able to walk. Look closely and see if anyone else in the family does it. I am sure there is someone that does it. You have to look hard because it is sutle. If she is not falling down and is doing fine I see that there is no reason to spend the money to try to find a doctor that will "do Something" when she will either out grow it or keep doing it and be fine. I don't think you have anything to really worry about.

C.

Hi A.. I have a friend who went thruogh this with her 3 yr old son and it was not a grow out of it situation. the child is in physical therapy right now. If you'd like the lady's email let me know.

I have a almost 10 year little girl who has been walking on her tiptoes since toddler age. She doesn't do it all the time, but majority of the time she is on her tiptoes. I have asked the doctors numerous times. The respond I received is that if she is not in any pain then she will have really strong calf muscles, which of course she does. I have asked her if she wants to be a ballerina, but she is more into singing. The doctors haven't shown a true concern. Good luck to you and I hope this helps.

Hi A. , i know about this kind of problem because my nephew has the same problem and his doctor sent him to occupational therapy and physical therapy and he is improving. you should tell your doctor you want referred to one of these because your doctor sounds a lot like my sons and for four years he told me that my son would talk and interact when he was ready and then i had him evaluated on my own and found out he had autism. Sometimes doctors dont want to face facts but something needs to be done even if he is not willing to do it......

I wouldnt worry, my neighbors daughter did the same thing, she finally grew out of it before she started school. But it never hurts to get a second opinion.

I have a friend who's daughter did that, and she was diagnosed with a mild form of sensory integration disorder. My nephew has a more debilitaing form of it, so I am a little familiar with the disorder. Tip toe walking is just one symptom. Its worth ruling out.

im 14 and i still walk on my toes its something that needs to be nipped in the bud or it will affect the way she walks her bones and if it last to long she need surgery

My daughter is 15 and always has done that, not as aboslutely consistently as when she was little but definitely still does it.It hasn't ever created any problems,,,

hi my son will be 5 tomorrow..and still walks on his tiptoes as well..he has a metabolic disorder..and b/c of that has low muscle tone...her doing this this long i would def check in with someeon...there is a procedure they can do to lengten the cords...until then i recommend leg stretches with your daughter to help stretch them out..

melind

Hi A.,

This link has already been posted but I wanted to say I have experience as and with a toe walker. Please seek further evalation. Had I listened to my mother instinct and not the ped those early years, my son would have had services early versus later. You can read my response here. http://www.mamasource.com/request/6164182161332109313

J. L.

I did this when I was a kid. I grew out of it. I think she will be fine.

My middle child done the same. She walked on the knuckles of her toes and yes she did grow out of it. She is now 34yrs. old and sometimes tries to repeat this habit but with some pain LOL. Good luck

Hi A., I am a student of massage so not a professional or anything. But you could try having her sit on the floor or couach beside you and just giving a gentle stretch to her ankles. I would gently push up on her toes to stretch the muscles in the back of her leg. The key here is gentle. you can lightly place one hand on the muscle at the back of her leg as you push her toes up. This will give you an idea of how tight the muscle is and also help you sense when you are getting a good stretch. This action of pushing her toes up is called dorsal flexing her ankle. It stretches the gatrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calf of the leg.

Hi A.,

I too used to walk on my tiptoes for the longest time as a child. I actually do still sometimes do it when i am barefoot (now 38). I have not had any problems from doing that. If fact I have always had muscular calfs and I think that was in part to that.
It is good your going to the ortho but I dont think you have anything to worry about.
I have 2 beautiful girls who actually do it as well. I do not think it is uncommon.
good luck!!!!!!!!

M.

Hi I have 3 girls 10 , 4 ,& 2. My 2 year old has low muscle tone she has been getting PT therapy for a year . She started walking between 21 &22 months. Her therapist told me that kids that walk on their tip toes that their rib cage is high . It will come down , but you can use your hands to help it . Message from under their arms in a downward motion with a little presure. It also could be a habit for her now too. I hope this will help. K.

Hi A.!

I walked on my tip toes for years and years and did this regularly - without shoes - all the way through high school. In fact, sometimes I still catch myself doing it (and I hear my mom yelling at me to "Get off your toes!") :-)! I was (and am) fine, my calves were toned and strong, and I was actually able to stretch my legs farther than most people. I think she will be just fine. I wouldn't worry, but you may as well get her checked. It certainly can't hurt.

Good luck!
Jen

I would have her checked by a physical therapist. My daughter has to do physical therapy and in talking w/her therapist about different things children do, this was mentioned. My daughter can't stand on her toes at all. She said children who do all the time sometimes have a sensory issue w/their feet. The sooner you get her therapy the quicker this will help.

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