Flat Feet In The Army
Flat feet within military service go way back throughout history, did you know that back during the first 2 world wars, having flat feet could disqualify recruits from being able to enlist in the army! Having a flatfoot was seen in general as something linked to poor health as well as a sign of a low class individual.
What are Flat Feet?
Flat feet or a pronated foot type, is when the arch is lower to the ground or in some cases completely flat and touching the ground which reduces the bodies ability to absorb the shock. The scientific name for a flat foot is pes planus. With this flattening of the arch, the surrounding structures also become affected. These structures include the foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back. This occurs as the altering of the position of the foot places increased pressure on these surrounding structures.
Flat feet do differ from person to person and they are often described as two types of flat feet, rigid flat feet or flexible flat feet. A flexible flat foot is a term used to describe a flat foot which is able to function normally during gait, but this does not exude a flexible flat foot from causing pain.
A rigid flat foot is usually the cause of abnormal foot development, this may include coalition (or natural fusing) of joints.
How do you develop flat feet?
Flat feet can be something that you can be genetically disposed with or they can also develop over time. Flat feet can often run in the family and this will likely be evident from an early age. You may also see changes over time to the arch of your foot, this can drop further to the ground due to a wide variety of reasons. Injuries and trauma to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones of the arch of the foot can result in the arch collapsing. Conditions affecting this include posterior tibial dysfunction and ankle sprains, breaks or tears. Age, hormonal changes and weight can also impact on this. There are also medical conditions that affect development of your arch such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
Can you join the Army if you have flat feet?
You can indeed join the army with a pronated foot type, however this wasn’t always the case. There is no official history timestamp for when flat feet stopped being a disqualifying condition for army enlistment but it occurred roughly around the time the Vietnam war began. They can no longer disqualify you from enlisting but you will still be put through various medical screenings and physical training. From there if your feet do become an issue and you start getting pain related symptoms as a result then this could affect your chances as sustaining an injury consistently can be a problem.
Why are flat feet an issue for the Army?
They are an issue as the army can potentially be a very physical and demanding job on the body. Your feet can have a large impact on this as they play a vital role in supporting the body through actions such as running. Having fallen arches can only be an issue within the military if they are symptomatic and damaging to your health and safety. They can be an issue depending on your role within the army, if you are deployed on the front lines then there is a chance that you may be put in some tough and risky situations anywhere in the world. If your flat feet are often very painful then you may slow down your battalion and potentially put them in harm’s way. Also the health and fitness requirements for a lot of army training involve long marches and runs which can be potentially harmful to new recruits who suffers from regular arch and heel pain as a result of fallen arches during exercise.
There are however roles in the army where you are not required to be on your feet as much so if you are someone that struggles due to their flat feet then there may even still be a role for you.
Can you fix flat feet?
Flatfoot people in general do not need to be fixed but rather improved, if we can improve the overall function of a flat foot and its surrounding structures then this decreases the chance of potential injury. It would be a good idea to go see your local podiatrist as they can assess both your arch and its supportive structures. From that assessment they will be able to formulate a management plan to improve the foots function which may include a strength and conditioning program, footwear and insoles/orthotics.
Treatments for flat feet
Within your podiatry appointment your podiatrist will watch you walk and run to fully assess your gait style and they will take you through a series of related exercises to assess muscle, tendon and ligament strength such as calf raises and single leg balance. All the exercises will directly relate to foot function to see if there is an area of concern that needs to be directly addressed within a strength and conditioning program. They will also directly assess and test all of your intrinsic foot muscles which are responsible for supporting your medial longitudinal arch. There are exercises that can be prescribed to improve your intrinsic strength such as toe yoga. Your podiatrist will be able to make a program specifically for you. Depending on your gait style, they could look into some form of orthotic intervention. Through the use of an insole, we can improve the position of the foot in order to allow the structures to perform their designed roles and the overall function of the foot. Speak to your podiatrist to see if any of these treatment methods can be applicable to you.
Make living with flat feet more comfortable
Living with flat feet doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, wearing a good and supportive pair of shoes can put less strain on your arches. A focus on foot and leg strength and conditioning can also reduce the strain on your arches. Both these methods can be planned and even implemented with your podiatrists help.
Book an Appointment
Make an appointment by clicking on this link: https://www.footcentregroup.com.au/book-online/ or by calling our Moorabbin clinic at 03 9553 0044, Edithvale at
03 9772 9579 and Malvern East at 03 9021 2067.