Toe walking – muscular or sensory?
Toe walking can be caused by a muscular tightness, sensory modulation difficulties, or simply a preference to walk on toes (idiopathic toe walking). If you attempt to stretch gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles) and can’t get the ankle to a neutral position, it is most likely muscular tightness. If the child is able to get his/her heels on ground with little difficulty, but prefer to walk on toes, it may be due to sensory issues. A Physical Therapy or an Occupational Therapy evaluation can assist with determining the reason for your child’s toe walking.
What type of stretching or exercises can be done to help kids that are toe walkers?
Walking on various surfaces, heel walking, balance on various surface types, and calf stretching as shown above.
- Vibration input
- Walking barefoot on various surfaces (grass, sand, etc.)
- Heavier shoes with ankle support to promote flat foot in standing
- Joint compressions
- Brushing soles of feet, applying lotion/massage