Tip toe walking: probably a final update

I’ve written a lot about Lydia’s tip-toe walking on this here blog. I’ve received comments from readers who landed here after Google searching “tip toe” walking and I’ve received questions about what therapies we did with Lydia and what worked and what didn’t. I’m happy to be able to share our experience. I just recently received an email from a parent, so I thought it was time to do another update on Lydia and her tippy toe walking.
For those that follow this blog, you may recall that we had Lydia casted last summer. I wrote about that each week. You can read all of those blog posts by clicking here. Lydia did awesome with the casting – she was such a trooper!  AND she gained her range of motion back and stopped walking on her tip-toes!  Fantastic!
Her casting was over with in August. In October, we went back to see the doctor, to check up on her progress and to get recommendations on where to go from here. Lydia had been doing good. She wore braces at night and continually during the day. When she was in her braces, her walking was normal – the normal heel-to-toe walking gate. But when she got out of her braces, her feet would naturally start to go up and she’d be up on her tip toes. We were getting admittedly frustrated, because it didn’t seem fair to have her wear the clunky braces during the day if they truly weren’t helping her. The doctor recommended that we not “over medicalize” the issue. She basically said that Lydia is prone to be a tip-toe walker not because of anything medically wrong with her. Some kids walk on their toes because of sensory issues. That is not the case for Lydia. Some kids walk on their toes just because they are wired that way. That’s Lydia. And because it’s natural for Lydia to walk on her toes, braces and casting really won’t permanently fix her. We agreed with the doctor’s advice. So, Lydia stopped wearing her braces and she stopped going to physical therapy. We knew she’d eventually go back to walking high up on her tip toes, but we decided to just let it be.
Now, Lydia walks high up on her tip toes. As high as she did before. She went back to walking exactly how she walked before the casting. I’d be lying if I acted like we were totally OK with it. Because we’re not. We’re upset that she went through the casting last year and basically it was for nothing because she’s regressed to walking high up on her toes. We’d be lying if we didn’t admit that her high tip-toe walking didn’t bother us sometimes. We’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we tell her frequently to try to walk heel-to-toe, knowing that she’ll do it for about three seconds, then get right back up on her high tippy toes.
But, we’re trying. Lydia is Lydia and she is a bright, intelligent, sweet as can be little girl. She walks on her tipe toes. No big deal. It doesn’t impede her growth or her development in the least. She runs fast, she walks fast, she skips and jumps and has the exact same range of motion as Arlene. In fact she’s got better core strength because of the toe walking!  You try walking on her toes for an extended period of time – your abs and thighs will start to burn!  Lydia’s got a strong mid-section because of her toe walking.
What we struggle with is being completely OK with it. We’re trying. We know that eventually she’ll stop. The doctor told us that she’ll get heavier and be unable to support herself up on her tippy toes the older she gets. The doctor also said that Lydia might stop if friends at school notice it and say something about it. That’s the one thing I’m most worried about.  We’re all used to it and no one says anything to her about it, for now. What if a nasty kid in school says something?  Lydia is a sweet girl but she’s also an emotional girl. I don’t want her feelings to get hurt over this. But we know it’s bound to happen, so we’ll just have to deal with it when we get there.
My advice for parents that come to this blog looking for answers is this:  trust your own instincts about what’s best for your child. With our child, we tried therapies and serial casting, but Lydia’s brain is just wired to want to walk up on her tip toes. The serial casting DID work for Lydia. That’s the only thing that did work. But serial casting needs to be followed up with consistent physical therapy for years. We didn’t feel like Lydia should be subjected to that. We could have really really worked with Lydia and gotten her into strict physical therapy sessions or made her wear braces 24-7 for years until her brain just flipped the switch to walk normally, but we didn’t feel like that was fair to Lydia.
Lydia doesn’t care that she walks on her tip toes. So why should anyone else care?   Lydia’s toe-walking is more just a quirk. It’s a minor thing that we occasionally correct her on. But we don’t focus on it and we don’t make her feel badly about it. It’s like any other minor bad habit that a child would do. Her sister picks her nose. We tell her to stop if we see her doing it. She’s not labeled a “nose picker” and she doesn’t receive therapy for it. Does it bother me when I see her doing it? Sure it does because I don’t like boogers. But it’s not something so bad that I’m going to take her somewhere for corrective therapies.
Lydia is a flash – she’s walking her normal way here. Up on her toes.

She knew what I was doing when I was trying to take pictures of her walking. I was able to snap a few without her figuring it out, but then she wised up to me. Darnit. Can’t pull anything by her.

I asked if it was OK that I was taking pictures of her walking on her tip toes and she said yes but then she asked me why. I explained that I wanted to write a blog post about it because other parents read my blog and have questions. She asked me if other kids walk like she does and I told her yes, and that it’s OK to walk how she does. She gave me permission to write this post and said that I should write that if a kid was going to get braces then they should get fancy colors on them because she liked her braces because they had rainbow straps but that she didn’t like wearing them because they made her feet sweat. So there you have it.

Because Lydia knows I have a blog and because she knows that I write things about her toe walking on the blog and because she displayed a little hesitation about it being OK with her, this will probably be my last update about her tip toe walking. If Lydia goes through a change with the tip toe walking then I’ll ask her if I can write about it and only publish it if she gives me permission.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have a question about tip toe walking or the therapies for it. I’m not an expert, but I’d be glad to share our experiences!  To follow the stories about Lydia, click on the links I included in this post, or the labels below.

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