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Fleet Feet or Flat Feet?

May 30, 2007 03:43 PM
About 25 percent of Americans have flat feet and most of them don’t have a problem, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. However, tennis players and other athletes 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.

Wet Footprint Test

How can you tell if one or both feet are flatter than they should be? By checking 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 is only a thin strip, you have a high arch.

Shoe Evaluation

You can also do a tennis shoe evaluation. Place your shoes on a flat table and examine them at eye level from behind. Check to see if there is even wear on the soles. 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 rock from side to side — not something a tennis player who is trying to performance at peak level should have to worry about.

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

Three Solutions

Three things can be done about flat feet, short of medical intervention:

1 – Wear shoes that have firm midsoles (the cushioning between the outer sole and the material that touches the foot).

2 – Wear shoes that have rigid heel counters (the stiff material at the back of the shoe).

3 – Wear shoes with a good arch support.

The worst choice for those who have flat feet is highly cushioned tennis shoe that does not provide a stable platform.

By Jim Brown, Ph.D., Executive Editor, Sports Performance Journal (athletesperformance.com), Author, Tennis: Steps to Success (Human Kinetics Publishers)




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