Ask The Experts

I was born with club foot, and this led to me walking on my toes as a child and still now as a 16 year old. What is this condition called? I remember being told it's because of a tightening in my calves too. I used to wear splints on my calf for 3 years, morning and night, I also had Botox injections and my legs in casts, but was told the Botox helped loosen my muscles.

Thank you for contacting IPFH. The condition to which you refer is called, simply, "toe walking." It is not known why many children do this, and sometimes you may hear it referred to as "ideopathic" toe walking, meaning the cause is unknown. It is not unusual in children who are learning to walk, and typically will evolve into normal walking as the child gets older and becomes more sure of her/his walking gait. If toe walking persists in a child, it is often due to an underlying condition such as cerebral palsy, spine issues or muscular dystrophy. Persistent toe walking may cause the calf muscles (the soleus and gastrocnemius) and their tendons to contract, and in some cases it is difficult or impossible for the person to walk flat-footed. A club foot is usually the result of tendons and muscles in and around the feet that are shorter than they should be, so that being the case, it may be that your toe walking is having a compounding effect on those muscles and tendons.

Any questions you have about your condition or about your walking gait should be directed to your primary care physician or a foot health professional. Your physician is familiar with your medical history, and can help you understand how your condition influences your gait, and what can be done to help you. We hope this information is useful to you, and we wish you the very best. 

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