Toe Walking Tips: Exercises you can do today with your toddler

Have you ever noticed that your child walks on his or her toes?  Do you ever wonder if there is anything you can do at home to decrease this problem?  YES there are things you can do!

Do you wonder if it is a habit, a problem, or if it’s normal in development?  The truth is that there are times in development that kids walk on their toes.  My purpose in this article, however, is not to discuss etiology of toe walking or when it is a problem, but rather to provide some simple exercises that you can do at home, right now, with your kids BEFORE it becomes a problem.  The biggest concern is that toe walking, if done for a long period of time, can tighten the muscles in the back of the ankle, the muscles called the plantarflexors (the soleus and gastrocnemius).  This does not allow the child to come down on their heels and changes the mechanics of the foot causing atypical use of the muscles of the foot.

The goal when a child is toe walking is to stretch the muscles in the calf and strengthen the muscles in the front of the ankle.  The following exercises would be appropriate to do during transient toe walking (toe walking that occurs once in a while), if you are unsure if it is becoming a problem, if you are waiting to see a physical therapist or in addition to the exercises that your therapist has already provided for you.

Three Exercises you can do TODAY

1. Calf Stretch: Place a small book (start with 1″) in front of a stool.  Have your child stand on the stool while they are coloring, playing with play dough at a table, doing a puzzle or while they are playing catch with you.  Make sure the feet are straight forward and not turned out.  Have your child stay in this position for 5 minutes.

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2. Down Dog: The down dog position is great for so many things.  This position will stretch the hamstrings as well as calf muscles. I like to do this on a stool, it keeps the child more attentive to the task.  Other tips to have the child stay in the position is to roll cars underneath the child and have them count how many cars go by.  If you have multiple children, have one child hold the down dog position and the other child will crawl under and while we are singing London Bridges and then have the children switch positions. Hold for 2-3 minutes.

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3. Bear Walking: Walk like a bear on hands and feet around the house.  Make a game out of it, put puzzle pieces on the floor and have the child get the puzzle pieces by bear walking to them.  You can also use packs of wipes, have your child put her hand on the wipes and push the packages around the house in a down dog position.  Place a stack of solo cups in front of your child and have them knock them down 10 feet away.

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Enjoy these activities. As always, my purpose in this blog is to help parents to action, help parents find activities they can do to strengthen their children at home.  I hope you enjoy the blog and activities found in it. If you would like more information on activities you can do with your little ones please sign up for the blog and like my page on facebook.

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