How Flat Are Your Feet?

January 20, 2004 02:46 PM

By Jim Brown

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons approximately 25 percent of Americans have flat feet. While most of them don't have a problem, many tennis players suffering from foot, knee, or leg pain, shin splints, achilles tendinitis, or plantar fasciitis should pay attention to whether one foot is flatter than the other.

How do you know? Check your wet footprint. If everything is normal, the front of your footprint should be joined to the heel by a strip about half the width of the front foot. If you have flat feet, that strip will be the same width as the front of your foot. Your footprint will look like a stretched-out pancake. If there's only a thin strip, that means you have a high arch.

You can also do a shoe evaluation. Place your shoes on a flat table and examine them at eye level from behind. Check to see if there is even sole wear. A flat foot causes more wear on the inside of the sole, especially in the heel area. That type of wear will make the shoe easy to rock from side to side.

Also, check the upper part of the shoes. A flat foot causes the upper part of the shoe to lean inward toward the sole. If you suffer foot pain and have flat feet, see an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.

Three things can be done about flat feet short of medical intervention. 1) Wear tennis shoes that have firm midsoles —the cushioning between the outer sole and the material that touches the foot. 2) Wear tennis shoes that have rigid heel counters — the stiff material at the back of the shoe. 3) and wear tennis shoes with a good arch support. The worst choice for players with flat feet is highly cushioned shoes that do not provide stability.

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