It is not a rare instance that a coach will turn down a trainee because of their flat feet. But how right is the trainer to refuse a flat footed person the opportunity to train and race because of collapsed arches?
True, in the past men with flat feet were turned down as military recruits, and ballet and other dancers were shun from the exercise room and the stage because of that exact same problem, but today more experts agree that not only do flat feet prevent people from becoming good athletes, dancers, soldiers, etc. but there actually could be an advantage to have flat feet!
A study in 1989 showed that of all 300 army trainees studied, those with high arches were found to suffer twice as many injuries (strains and stress fractures) during training than those with flat feet.
According to the President of the American Orthopedic foot and ankle society, Dr. Michael Coughlin, a wide variety of the professional athletes in the US have flat feet. This is very often the case with basketball players.
More orthopedists tend to agree with the new idea that there is no perfect foot shape, and that there is no exact definition of what a flat foot actually is. Experts agree though, that athletes and people with high heels are more injury prone than those with flat feet. The reason is that the high arched foot lacks shock resistance which can cause a lot of soreness, stress and injuries to the foot, ankles, knees and legs.
Flat feet are more flexible which according to Dr.Coughlin is much more preferable if you are an athlete than having high arches.
Today, orthopedists rarely treat flat feet as if it is a troublesome deformity and no longer insist that people with flat feet should limit certain activities and need special treatment.
There are a wide number of runners and world famous athletes which are the living proof that having flat feet shouldn’t stop you from training, competing and winning.
One of the most famous examples is track and field champion Said Aouita who become the moroccan sportsman of the century. He has flat feet and yet has several gold Olympic medals and holds the world records for 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters. He has the second ever best 1 mile running time as well. He has claimed that the only problem with his flat feet is that he is more prone to develop tendonitis, but this fact doesn’t stop him from competing and winning more and more medals.
Probably the most famous American miler Alan Webb who holds the number one record in the mile run of the US (3:46.9 min), and who started off with flat feet but with a lot of training and exercise actually managed to grow his arches. From a size 12 in his freshman year in high school, he managed to reduce his shoe size, because of the growing arches, to reduce his shoe size to 10!
So, if you are flat footed and aspire to become a successful athlete, so not be worried about the shape of your foot, unless it starts causing you serious pain or discomfort. Just find the right cross-training shoes for your low arched feet, or use insert or orthotics to help alleviate the pain.