My younger son has been walking on his toes since he was about 4. We have never been able to ascertain why he started it – was it just a habit, which then made him physically unable to walk on the flats of his feet? Or has he been physically unable to walk on the flats of his feet since he was 4?
People weren’t designed to walk on their toes. If you put too much pressure on any part of your body, it causes knock-on effects elsewhere.
Since the age of 8, when I took him to the doctor for some strange looking lumps on his toes (pedal piezogenic papules), we’ve been aware that the toe walking is causing problems. The word ‘operation’ has been mentioned several times by doctors and physios over the years.
Walking on his toes means his achilles is particularly tight and prone to injury. He’s had two periods of physio for his problems, one following a nasty bout of flu in 2012, which left him unable to walk. He had physio again last year, after an achilles injury which lasted from March until July. Earlier this year, he was forced to take a week off games lessons and rugby matches because the injury had reared its ugly head again.
He doesn’t help himself. He doesn’t do his physio exercises and he doesn’t wear the orthotic splints he’s supposed to wear in the evenings. When he’s injured, he doesn’t take enough time away from sport.
The reality is, he could end up having an operation at some point in the future.
But then something amazing happened.
He broke his toe.
It’s not what most people would consider to be amazing. But if you’ve got a broken toe, you can’t walk on your toes. The discomfort of putting your feet down flat is nothing compared to the agony of putting all of your weight on a broken toe. So my son was forced to walk properly.
And, within a few days of breaking his toe, he was walking a LOT. Because there were Pokemon to be found. Walking miles and miles (up to 19 miles a day) on flat feet has forced his achilles to loosen up and also started to get him out of the habit of walking on his toes.
Could Pokemon Go plus broken toe equal recovery?
It seems like the most unlikely cure, but at the moment he is walking without pain or injury, despite the pounding he has been giving his legs and feet. Is he putting an end to long-term problems and the prospect of an operation?
I don’t know yet, but I’m certainly feeling more hopeful.