Best Orthotics for Toe Walking – These Shoes and Orthotics Help Prevent Toe Walking!
Have you taken your child to your medical professional and were told that your child’s toe walking will eventually stop? Please note that early intervention in children who toe walk is key to prevent this condition from getting worse. This is quite a complex issue, but my goal is to explain it in a simple way and show you a list of the best orthotics for toe walking.
I have helped several children who were walking on their toes that are now walking the correct way —heel to toe— and I believe I can help your child too. Providing your child with the correct type of shoes can make a big difference, but providing your child with the correct type of shoes and orthotics highly increases the chances of preventing children from walking on their toes.
Be Proactive! – Don’t Assume the Condition Will Magically Disappear
I always recommend parents to be proactive and start treating this condition from an early stage as this highly decreases your child’s necessity for more invasive treatments such as serial casting, Botox injections or surgery in later childhood. Taking the “wait and see approach” and waiting for the condition to resolve on its own may only lead to the condition getting worse.
Children between the ages of 1 and 5 are undergoing rapid neuromuscular development and toe walking during these years can often be easily managed with proper foot orthotics and correct footwear. Unresolved toe walking after age 5 or older, although still manageable, can become a bit more difficult to control. The longer the child continues to toe walk may lead to a sustained habitual pattern and ultimately risk of acquired tendon tightness and ankle stiffness. Early intervention to control toe walking with proper shoes and foot orthotics is strongly encouraged.
If you are in a rush and would like to go directly to the selection of the best orthotics to help stop toe walking, simply click here.
Is It Normal for Toddlers to Walk On Their Toes?
Keep in mind that is common to see toddlers who are learning how to walk, get on their toes, and in most cases, the toe walking reduces and is of no concern. However, I suggest that parents keep a close eye and be proactive if they don’t see this condition improve.
When toe walking persists in children older than two years, it’s a cause for concern and should be treated right away. Did you know that older children are more likely to experience significant stiffness and tightness of the tendons and might not respond with equal success to conservative treatment measures as a younger child who toe walk?
Children who toe walk might experience frequent falls or stumbles with ambulation, another reason why parents shouldn’t leave this condition untreated.
Toe walking also becomes a problem when the calf muscles begin to shorten, reducing your child’s ankle movement. Toe walking can cause long-term damage to the foot and ankle due to the abnormal forces acting on them.
Keep in mind that pain is not the only reason to treat! Toe walking is not a painful condition, and just because the child doesn’t complain about pain it doesn’t mean it should be left untreated or that the child will outgrow the condition.
My Experience Helping Toe Walking Children – Supportive Shoes and Orthotics
I have helped improve the walking gait of several children who were toe walking by fitting them in the correct types of shoes and orthotics. I want to clarify that I am not a doctor, my experience comes from working for a specialized children’s shoe store for the last 10 years.
My goal has always been to use the minimal intervention that is effective, that is the reason why I always recommend to start by trying a pair of supportive shoes and orthotics and leaving casting and surgery always as a last resort.
Find Out Why Your Child Keeps Toe Walking
Did you know that most doctors can’t identify the reason why children toe walk? Persistent toe walking is referred to as “idiopathic,” which means that the exact cause is not known, and the child continues to toe walk because he or she has a preference to do so. I disagree with this statement as I have always found there is a specific reason why the child toe walks.
The most common reasons why children toe walk are:
1️⃣ Flat Feet: Children with flat feet have poor balance and coordination. To combat this, children might raise up on the toes to put the foot in a more stable position. Toe walking enhances the arch which creates a more stable foot (base) and temporarily improves the child’s balance and stability. This however is not normal and promotes improper muscle balance development and needs to be addressed.
2️⃣ Short Achilles tendon: A short Achilles tendon can prevent your child’s heels from touching the ground.
3️⃣ Sensory perceptions: Check the surface your child is walking on. Maybe the child doesn’t like the feeling of the cold tile or furry carpet and this exaggerates the symptoms.
4️⃣ Vision impairments.
In my experience, most children walk on their toes due to having flat feet. I would say that 80% of the toe walking children I have helped were flat-footed.
It is also advised to have your child assessed for any neurologic abnormalities that could be contributing to toe walking such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or a spinal cord abnormality.
One thing is clear, whatever reason might be causing your child to keep toe walking, you need to take action immediately. Please trust me that taking action early is key to prevent future problems for your child. Look at it this way, when children toe walk, they are doing something that is biomechanically incorrect, and that will have a lasting effect on your child’s muscle structure.
The most effective way I have found to help treat and prevent toe walking is by wearing the correct type of footwear and orthotics.
Follow My 2 Step Approach to Correct Toe Walking! – Orthotics and Shoes
Below you can find my simple 2 step approach which has prevented hundreds of children from walking on their toes. Please note that how effective this orthotic will be in preventing your child’s toe walking condition depends on your child’s age and your child’s individual foot anatomy. The goal of the orthotics is to prevent children from getting on their toes and promote the habit of walking the correct way: heel to toe.
➡️ First Step: Find the correct pair of orthotics.
I have fitted one specific orthotic that has proven to be the most effective one for treating and preventing children from walking on their toes. The orthotic I recommend provides the following features:
- 30mm heel cup helps control the alignment of the heel and lower leg, and supports the arch:
- Medial and lateral flanges help keep the foot aligned over the orthotic. I have noticed how most children’s prefabricated orthotics lack this feature and the child’s foot basically pushes through the orthotic and does whatever it wants.
The Best Orthotics for Toe Walking Children
This is the best prefabricated on the market for helping treat, prevent, and control toe walking.
Take a look at the chart below to figure out what size to order based on your child’s shoe size:
This orthotic can be shipped everywhere. Within the USA shipping can take about 10-15 days depending on the location and the shipping method. Overseas shipping is available but will be more expensive. Do not hesitate to contact me directly via e-mail if you are having a hard time figuring out what size to order or if you have any other questions about this orthotic. My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
➡️ Second Step: Provide your child with the correct type of shoes.
Your kids’ shoes must meet the following 2 checkpoint criteria:
1️⃣ Avoid shoes that are too flexible: Shoes that provide too much flexibility make it easy for your child to get on his/her toes. Make sure that the shoes your child wears are flexible but not too flexible. Your kids’ shoes should always bend at the ball of the foot but no further. Take a look at the image below for clarification:
2️⃣ Find Shoes with a Stable Base of Support: Some children raise on their toes to help improve their poor balance and coordination. Shoes that provide a stable base of support can help put your child’s feet in a more stable position and improve your child’s balance and stability.
I have put together a selection of the most effective shoes for children who toe walk that meet these 2 checkpoint criteria. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. This allows us to create free content and resources for many families around the world.
Best Shoes for Toe Walking Children
All of these shoes are also capable of accommodating the orthotics I recommended before.
Don’t attempt to leave too much growing room in your kids’ shoes as this will actually make it easier for them to go on their toes.
Get in Touch With Us for a Personalized Suggestion
Without a doubt, children’s shoe needs can vary depending on their age, activity level, and any specific foot conditions they may have. If you have any questions or need any further assistance, you can also contact us via e-mail and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are happy to help you find a different pair of shoes for your child so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Just to clarify, the shoes above are not orthopedic shoes, they are everyday sneakers that provide key features to prevent your child from toe walking. I suggest parents to apply a specific shoe lacing technique to get the full benefits that the orthotics have to offer.
Make sure that your kids’ shoes are properly tied at all times. If the shoes are not tied properly you will be defeating the whole purpose of the orthotic.
How to Order the Correct Shoe Size – In 2 Simple Steps!
The shoes can’t be too big, which means that we have to compromise on the amount of growing room that we provide for your child. Shoes that are too big make it easier for children to get on their toes. If you are unsure of your child’s foot length, foot shape, and what size to order online I suggest that you take a look at this article.
Final Thoughts on Toe Walking Children
The orthotics I recommend have a better carryover effect once children are out of the device compared to children who wore an articulated AFO that completely blocked plantar flexion at the ankle joint. Another benefit of this orthotic is that it encourages rather than force the child into a normal gait pattern. This means that children use their own muscles to walk rather than relying on orthotics or braces.
When parents watch their children toe walk it is totally normal for them to be concerned about any autistic tendencies. It is true that toe walking can be a result of cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and autism spectrum disorder. From my perspective, most of the cases I have dealt with toe walking are strictly related flat-feet or the child having a short Achilles tendon. When this tendon is too short, it can prevent the heel from touching the ground.
It’s always better to start by fitting children in the correct type of shoes and orthotics and then, 10 or 12 months down the road, if the toe-walking persists, you can always switch your child to an AFO. Serial casting for children who toe walk is an effective treatment to improve their walking gait. Botox injections in conjunction with other conservative treatment measures have also proven to be effective to achieve a heel-toe gait pattern.
Please note that surgery should always be used as a last resort and reserved for older children who have not shown any improvement after conservative measures.
Have you found a specific orthotic or shoe style that has worked well in preventing your child from toe walking? Share your findings below so other families can benefit from your experiences.