Idiopathic toe walking

Lyndsay - posted on 09/03/2009 ( 10 moms have responded )




My son walks and runs on his toes, and I was just reading that this could be a sign of mild cerebral palsy or autism. I was just wondering if anyone has any experience with this? He's a very active little boy and I had no concerns about his physical development at all until I read this article.


Marcie - posted on 03/13/2013




My son is 16 years old and walks on his tip toes. He is very active, he plays high school sports. I dont think he has problem with it. But I do have concerns regarding his muscles in legs. Would like to know if it will be a problem for him in future.

JoAnne - posted on 09/06/2009




You may want to see a pediatric orthopedic doctor. This is what they specialize in, and if needed they can prescribe foot orthotics, to help stabilize the foot and ankle muscles. My son has CP and uses MAFO's (Modified Ankle Foot Orthotics) on a regular basis, plus we go through almost daily therapy. Something you can try on your own, to help motivate your son is to put a small sponge lift at the heel of his shoes and also use a squeek toy attachmnet taped to the bottom of his shoes so that he can hear when he lands on his heels. You can buy the squeek toy replacements at Petsmart Stores. A PT alerted me to this idea and it really has worked for my son, plus it is cheap. Good luck...

Paula - posted on 09/03/2009




Idiopathic toe walking is different to toe-walking caused from a neuromuscular problem such as cerebral palsy. Idiopathic toe walking is also known as habitual toe walking which means there is not really a medical or physical reason for the toe walking, its simply a "habit".

My daughter also a toe walker. She has been attending physio since around 13 months (started walking at 11 months) and she is now 2.5 and still walking on her toes a lot of the time.

She appears to have very tight calf muscles. We've tried a number of things to correct the toe walking, including plaster casts and taping, much like they would with a child with cerebral palsy that affects their legs. As the taping and casts haven't worked and neither has the months of physio, our next step was to look into whether there may be a neurological reason for the toe walking such as mild cerebral palsy or brain damage. She was starved of oxygen at birth which may have affected the area of her brain that sends nerve signals to her lower torso, causing her to walk on her toes.

However, having said all that, it is also completely normal for children to go through a stage where they do walk on their toes. A lot of children will just grow out of it. It is actually normal for children to run on their toes to a certain degree. If you look at professional runners, they don't run flat footed either. I guess it's a balance thing.

My advice is to talk to your doctor or find a paediatric physio that has experience with this sort of thing. They will soon be able to tell you whether the muscles are tight and if so, recommend exercises to help loosen them and hopefully, in turn, stop your son from walking on his toes.


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I was a toe-walker as a kid, and I turned out just fine. My parents say they wondered for awhile if I'd ever walk normally. I still occasionally notice myself walking on my toes now. I'd suggest talking to the doctor, though. It can be a sign of a developmental problem, but in the absence of other symptoms it's probably nothing.

Laura - posted on 09/03/2009




My step son has been living with us since he was 3 1/2 and he is 11 now at times he still does it. I think it is more of a habbit then anything. I did talk to my doc years ago he just moved in with us an she told me not to worry, Hope this helps

Stephanie - posted on 09/03/2009




Growing up I was a tiptoe baby... eventually I out grew it around five or six when I started school. I would check it out with the doctor but it could be nothing more than a phase.

Pamela - posted on 09/03/2009




My son is 16months old and he runs on his toes sometimes , lol i think he likes the feeling of it because when he's doing it he laughs , he also walks backwards! i think its just a phase , and if you are worried i would just make an apointment with your doctor and have him tested : )

Tracy - posted on 09/03/2009




My son is 10 and he started walking on his toes at 3! He is fully able to walk correctly and we've seen specialists because I was concerned about the muscle development! He doesn't have cerebal palsey or autism! He does have a mild auditory processing disorder but nothing he can't overcome! Talk to your doctor! Depending on the age you can correct the behavior before it becomes a real concern! We just remind Jake to put his heels down! Constantly!

Good Luck!

Heather - posted on 09/03/2009




Sweetheart, let me tell you more than likely it has nothing to do with that. I have done childcare for 6 years and have had atleast 7 children come through that walk on their toes. The only proof I have ever seen is the muscles will constrict which means you must stretch them. My neighbor has walked on his toes for almost 30 years and is perfectly fine. Hope this helps

Ann - posted on 09/03/2009




my daughter walks and runs on her toes. she is 3 and i have concerns more so about the muscle development than anything. i am going to talk to the doctor about it. i guess i would suggest you do the same.

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