What Are Floating Toes and Why Could Your Child Be At Risk?

Plenty of outdoor play can help prevent floating toes in kidsBack when I was growing up, you didn’t hear too much about floating toes, but, unfortunately, it’s become a fairly common foot problem for 21st century kids.

What are floating toes? Put simply, they are just what they seem—one or more toes that remain elevated and cannot touch the ground, even when a child’s foot is placed flat on an even surface. Children with floating toes tend to have more balance issues and are at a higher risk of falling over. In children, the problem is thought to be a result of instability or weakness in the joints and muscles of the toes.

A recent study in Japan revealed that rates of the problem have soared in the 2000s as compared to the 1980s. Of the 198 kids included in the study, about 80% had at least one floating toe! The suspected culprit? Underused feet! An increase in indoor games and screen time, combined with less playground time at school has translated to kids who take just 11,000 steps a day compared to 27,000 steps back in 1979. Also, kids’ feet are covered far more frequently these days, leaving them little time for barefoot exploring. All of these factors have led to less developed foot muscles and more floating toes!

The good news is the problem can usually be corrected without surgery—strengthening exercises and custom orthotics can go a long way toward returning the toe to its normal structure. Preventative measures are also key—remember, barefoot is best for babies, and older children need plenty of time to run around and play!

Have concerns about floating toes or other kids foot health problems? I’m here to help! Schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider today.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.