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What is paediatric toe walking?

Paediatric toe walking is when a child walks on their tip toes rather than on their whole foot. This is relatively common and normally resolves by the time a child reaches school, however if it does not then it can cause problems in the future. It can cause biomechanical problems and altered muscle lengths which can cause pain later on in the child’s life.

Encouraging correct gait patterns to children whom toe-walkAbove: Encouraging correct gait patterns to children whom toe-walk

What causes a child to toe walk?

Toe walking in children can be caused by factors such as:
  • Muscle tightness (especially calf)
  • Joint stiffness
  • Gait development problems
  • Growth spurts
  • Neurological conditions

What are the symptoms of toe walking in children?

There can be no symptoms with paediatric toe walking but it can cause some symptoms such as:
  • Pain in feet
  • Pain in knees
  • Pain in tightness in legs when walking or sitting
Toe walking can also cause future problems such as:
  • Gradual development of pain
  • Pain during exercise
  • Muscle length problems later in life
  • Biomechanical problems later in life causing pain or problems in other areas

What can physiotherapy do to help children who toe walk?

Physiotherapy treatment can be very effective to prevent paediatric toe walking and problems arising in the future. Physiotherapy treatment may include:
  • Gait re-education
  • Stretching exercises
  • Joint mobility exercises
  • Muscle imbalance correction exercises
  • Muscle strengthening exercises


Paediatric toe walking can be common but can be resolved unless it is due to a neurological problem, in which case it may not be resolved. If it does not then it can cause problems for the child in the future such as pain and imbalances throughout the legs and hips. Toe walking is mainly caused muscle tightness or joint stiffness. These problems can be effectively treated by stretching exercises, joint mobility exercises and gait re-education. This will help the child to walk normally and prevent future problems occurring.

To book an appointment or for more information about paediatric toe walking contact us or call 0330 088 7800.

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