Toe Walking and In Toeing

Toe Walking and Intoeing: the Facts

A very common question is whether kids who walk on their toes or walk intoed will “grow out of it”.  In truth it is a much more complex question than yes or no.  The answer is: it depends.

Toe Walking

There are different types of toe walking.  The most common type is seen in early childhood, when the child first begins to walk up until about age 9 and the cause of this type is unknown (also called idiopathic).  There is often tightness in one of the calf muscles.  In most cases, this type of toe walking will eventually resolve on its own and resolution can be accelerated by parents encouraging the child to walk on their heels and performing stretching exercises.  Sometimes physical therapy can be helpful as well. 

The more severe type of toe walking, also known as equinus, involves both calf muscles and can be a difficult problem.  It often starts in the first few years of life and can be very severe, in some cases the child is not able to walk with heels on the floor at all.  The treatment for this type of toe walking depends on how severe the condition is and proper examination by a doctor is very important.

Intoed (Pigeon Toed) Walking

Pigeon toed or intoed walking is also very common in childhood and like toe walking, there are different types.  Intoed walking is common in the early walking cycle of a child due to “internal rotation” of the hips, which naturally resolves as the child grows in most cases.  This natural resolution is “growing out of it” and it usually occurs by about age 9-11.  Encouraging the child to sit criss cross as opposed to sitting on their feet when on the floor can promote the normal outward rotation of the hips.

There more severe type of intoed walking is something that is not outgrown as the child ages.  This type is more complex and occurs in the feet, knees and legs as well as the hips.  There are many treatments, including orthotics, braces and in some cases surgery is needed.  It is important to be evaluated by a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The doctors at Advanced Foot and Ankle are specially trained and experienced in all aspects of both of these common conditions and can help with any questions you may have.  Call us today for an appointment.



Eric Silvers, DPM

Dustin Lloyd, DPM 

Christopher WItt, DPM