Toe-walking can limit children’s agility, balance, and ability to participate in fun activities. Here are some simple strategies you can use to develop normal walking patterns.
The use of ankle weights and/or a downward pressure applied through the hips can help students better feel their legs. This additional weight enhances the sensation of the ankles and feet.
Walking in Reverse
Walking backward, walking up a hill and walking backward down a hill requires using the heel of the foot. Toe-walking while walking backward or up a hill is extremely difficult to maintain, so it’s a fun way to incorporate a more functional way for the child’s brain to experience their foot. This may result in several minutes to several hours of normal heel-to-toe-walking following these strategies.
Feel the Heel
Improved contact and pressure through the heel can sometimes inhibit the inappropriate and excessive muscle tightening that causes toe-walking. Therapists once used a high-top running shoe cut off at the forefoot as a therapeutic device to reduce the pressure of the floor on the ball of the foot. The child’s forefoot and toes just “float” off the edge of the heel-only shoe.
There is a simple at home strategy that is much gentler on shoes. Have your child stand on their heels on a slightly raised platform or step. Only the heels should contact the support surface (platform or step). The toes and forefoot should extend unsupported past the edge of the platform and just “float” in the air. All the child’s weight, then, is placed through the heels.
Your child can stand on the heel platform for five to ten minutes of homework, while brushing teeth, helping at the kitchen sink or while watching television.
Exercise for the Small Ninja
For the older child, wall sits, crouching, lunging, partial squats, and kicking a soccer ball are also useful activities that incorporate high-level coordination in the leg muscle that to foot and ankle control.
And finally, it may help to loosen the bed sheets at the base of the child’s bed. Try to prevent flattening out the ankle with heavy bedsheets that can hold the foot in a tippy-toe posture all night long.
See the full article on toe-walking HERE.