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Flat-footed 'are high achievers'

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by Hylton Menz, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. Hylton Menz

    Hylton Menz Guest

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    From The Age newspaper:

    Flat-footed 'are high achievers'
    By Harriet Alexander
    July 14, 2005

    Flat-Footed people suffer pain, cannot join the army and are perceived as physically inept. But research on flat-footed children shows they can jump 15 per cent higher than average children and have equally good balance and motor skills. The only area they performed worse in was "lateral hopping" - hopping sideways over a piece of string.

    Dara Twomey, a University of NSW biomechanics researcher, decided to study flat feet after working as a physical education teacher for 10 years and noticing that more children seemed to have them.

    She was startled by her results. "I was expecting to find that they would be worse (at jumping). I didn't think they would be able to take off the ground as easily."

    Flat feet can be rigid, where there is no discernible arch, or flexible, where the arch appears when the foot is lifted from the floor. They can be caused by such factors as obesity and genetics, and people who have them are more likely to get foot, knee and lower back pain.

    The study tested 54 children aged between nine and 12, half with flat feet and half with normal arches, with exercises such as balancing on one leg, hopping over a string and jumping. Each child was fitted with 17 retro-reflective devices between the knee and the foot, which monitored the interaction of their joints.

    Podiatrist Michael Kinchington said the findings were surprising.
  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Interested to know the criteria they used for flat foot...
  3. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


    As far as I can recall Carl Lewis was reported to have flat feet. This did not stop him from winning gold with style but his lifetime of punishing training has left him crippled with severe osteoarthrosis. A common outcome for many elite athletes, sadly.

    As to links with aptitude, like Craig I remain sceptical. Two hundred years ago flat footedness was referred to as the 'Jewish foot; and became a stigmatised physical condition associated with sloth and a non productive member of European Society. The medical anti-Semitic theorem came about from the Darwinian belief in the survival of the fitness. The poor white population were Jewish and hence their physical appearance was taken to represent the lowest of the low and states of health were measured against it. Prevalence of flat footedness was high amongst the population and subsequently became the mark of the Jew. Gentiles keen not to be so classified as anything other than Christian, sought out (quasi)medical treatments which gave rise to the origins of foot stretching and arch support. Diabetes was also prevalent in ghetto populations and much of what was known about the disease (the Jewish Disease) in the 1950s came from this time. Intermittent claudication was again the sign of the Jew in 17th and 18th century Europe. In many text books today there remains a vestige of this anti-Semitism when conditions like 'tailor's bunion' is referred to as ' common among Mediterranean populations."


    Gilman SL 1990 The Jewish body: a "footnote" Bull Hist Med 64:4 588-602 You can also read more at: http://foottalk.blogspot.com/

    The rather dubious origins of flat foot (as a medical condition) remain clouded today as does its treatment and in the absence of published RCTs like to do so for some time to come.

    What say you?

  4. yehuda

    yehuda Active Member

    I have worked with both gentiles and jews (I am a jew) and joke that our forefather Abraham must have had flat feet it does appear ( to me anyway ) that we have flatter feet ... then again we have a diproportionate amount of people that wear glasses too. :D :D :D
  5. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


    The are footprints of Mohammad somewhere and guess what? They are flat footed. Guess that just goes to show we are all the same.

  6. yehuda

    yehuda Active Member

    mohamed was a descendent of Ishmael who was also a son of Abraham

    :D :D
  7. Hylton Menz

    Hylton Menz Guest

    I've had some email contact with Dara Twomey (the author of the study) and she said that they used a combination of footprints, navicular height and medial arch angle in walking. Will be an interesting read when the full paper is published.

    Here's the other media report from the study:

    Flat-feet can jump higher

    July 14, 2005

    BEING flat-footed doesn't mean you are a nerd who shouldn't be allowed near a sporting field - in fact, it can be an advantage in some physical activities.

    Dara Twomey, a University of NSW biomechanics researcher, has discovered that children with flat feet can jump up to 15 per cent higher than average in a standard vertical jump test.

    The "highly detailed" comparison of 27 flat-footed children and 27 children with normally arched feet, all aged between 9 and 12, revealed that those with flat feet had stronger lower calf muscles.

    No difference was found between the groups' ability to balance in normal standing, with eyes closed, on one leg, or on a wobble board.

    However, the flat-footed children had difficulty with lateral hopping when asked to hop sideways over a low obstacle as many times as possible in 30 seconds.

    Those with normal arches averaged 52; those with low arches only reached 40 hops.

    "Further research is needed to determine why having low arches helps you to jump better, or why it hinders your lateral hopping ability," Ms Twomey said.

    "But we now know that in terms of performance outcomes, there's no major disadvantage in low-arched feet."

    The tests were performed in the UNSW Gait Analysis Laboratory to determine if flat feet affected children's performance of gross motor skills.

    Retro-reflective markers were put at key points on the children's bodies to present three-dimensional images on a computer screen.

    The children who took part in the research believed having flat feet was a physical disadvantage, and this might be affecting them psychologically, Ms Twomey said.

    "Their perception was that they weren't able to perform as well ... their perception is wrong," she said.

    "Children with flat feet may be disadvantaged by the stigma."

    Having flat feet certainly hasn't stopped the Natoli twins from excelling in sports.

    Daniella and Chiara, 13, participated in Ms Twomey's research.

    They have played waterpolo and netball since they were four and their team, the Opals, won the Randwick netball competition for first grade under-13s.

    "It's not a big issue for us," Daniella said. "After netball, my feet just get a bit sore."

    Imelda Natoli said her daughters' feet "haven't inhibited them at all".



  8. Vertical jumping height seems to be significantly correlated to percentage of fast twitch fibers:

    Relationships between muscle fibre characteristics and physical performance capacity in trained athletic boys.
    J Sports Sci 1991 Summer;9(2):161-71 (ISSN: 0264-0414)
    Mero A; Jaakkola L; Komi PV
    Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland.

    and also seems to be correlated with squat strength and sprint speed:

    Strong correlation of maximal squat strength with sprint performance and vertical jump height in elite soccer players.
    Br J Sports Med 2004 Jun;38(3):285-8 (ISSN: 1473-0480)
    Wisloff U; Castagna C; Helgerud J; Jones R; Hoff J
    Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Medicine, Trondheim, Norway

    I doubt that longitudinal arch height has a primary effect on vertical jump height since, from the reading I have done, vertical jump height tends to be affected much more by muscle fiber type and muscle strength in the quads and gastroc-soleus and body weight. I would wager that the low longitudinal arch height is more the result of the primary factors that cause an increase in vertical jump height, such as stronger calf muscles and more stiff Achilles tendons, for example.
  9. gflorido

    gflorido Member

    humble theory

    I agree with Kevin. Jumping performance would not be much afected as walking or running with flat feet condition. My theory is that those children jumped higher because flat feet might had developed muscle strengh in compensation, of squads and gastronimius-soleus muscles. should they compare thigh and ankle circunference between subjects ?
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2005
  10. *sole_man*

    *sole_man* Member

    To the defence of the flat footies!

    Hi, I have flat feet and was always excellent at sports at school and college. I was on the high jump team and was captain of the cross country running team. I am 25 years old now and continue to be a keen athlete (mainly running) and have never had problems. I was told during my studies that this is a supposed handicap and that I should make some orthoses. I refused and am not convinced that flat feet are more problematic than 'normal' feet. Incidentally I am one quarter jewish :) , James.
  11. markjohconley

    markjohconley Well-Known Member

    i too have 'flat feet', wasn't that bad an athlete, ran a 4' 51" mile when i was a young'un (not bad for a stockily built lad), and wait for it .......... i had a jewish friend once!
  12. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Flat-footedness is not a disadvantage for athletic performance in children aged 11 to 15 years.
    Tudor A, Ruzic L, Sestan B, Sirola L, Prpic T.
    Pediatrics. 2009 Mar;123(3):e386-92.
  13. parisa_arzani@yahoo.com

    parisa_arzani@yahoo.com Welcome New Poster

    I HAVE THIS QUESTION 2,becuse they test motor skill but we say flat foot patient may have more injuri in sport and sport has rotational activity not motor skills

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