Typically, toe walking is a habit that develops when a child learns to walk. In a few cases, toe walking is caused by an underlying condition, such as:
- A short Achilles tendon. This tendon links the lower leg muscles to the back of the heel bone. If it's too short, it can prevent the heel from touching the ground.
- Cerebral palsy. Toe walking can be caused by a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture caused by injury or abnormal development in the parts of the immature brain that control muscle function.
- Muscular dystrophy. Toe walking sometimes occurs in this genetic disease in which muscle fibers are unusually prone to damage and weaken over time. This diagnosis might be more likely if your child initially walked normally before starting to toe walk.
- Autism. Toe walking has been linked to autism spectrum disorders, which affect a child's ability to communicate and interact with others.
While Squeaker Sneakers can be extremely helpful in discouraging toe walking, your child may continue to walk on his or her toes. If your child toe walks the majority of the time and is over 2 years old, it would be beneficial to speak with your pediatrician and physical therapist to determine if further intervention is needed. Make an appointment sooner if your child also has tight leg muscles, stiffness in the Achilles tendon or a lack of muscle coordination.