Flat Feet and The Military

flat feet bad for the military
Photo Credit: Defence-Imagery, pixabay.com

Have you been dreaming of enrolling in the military? Have you spent days and weeks on end imagining yourself flying the aircraft of your country’s Air Force or aboard a ship of the Navy?

Now, you are afraid that one factor is about to stand between you and your dreams – flat feet.

Maybe you are already in the military and you just noticed that this condition is developing on one of your feet or the both of them. Are you worried if it might be a reason for a disqualification?

Although this is widely argued, flat feet can actually get you disqualified from the military. But it varies from country to country and depends on what type of flat feet one possesses.

One may ask, why are flat feet bad for the military? Let’s find out.

How Can You Find Out If You Have Flat Feet?

There are two main ways you can find out if you have flat feet by yourself. They are:

  1. Wet your feet and stand on a smooth flat surface. If the full outline of the feet shows, without any thin part between the balls of the heel and the feet, then you probably have flat feet.
  2. Check the soles of your old or frequently worn shoes. If there is more wear on the inner side of your heels than the outer part, you might have flat feet. The shoes might also lean inward, taking the shape of the rolled in feet.
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Why Do Flat Feet Disqualify You from The Military?

There a lot of reasons that make the military consider flat feet as hard DQ. Recruits go through rigorous physical training such as walking, climbing, marching and running, and they also travel long distances on foot.

This might become a problem for someone who has flat feet that are accompanied by pain.

The ligaments and tendons of the feet tend to weaken in flat feet over time. This weakness sometimes leads to the collapse of the arch and pains in the feet, ankle, knee, hip and lower back.

This pain usually caused by the inability of the feet to successfully distribute the body weight and absorb shock.

This pain and weak tendons can affect one’s ability to serve in the military efficiently.

Even though orthotic insoles might be used to manage this condition, it is a liability to the military and incurs extra expenses for disability claims.

Standing on flat feet for too long might cause pains and discomfort and this might make the person unfit to carry out discipline training that involves standing.

Can You Join the Military If You Are Flat-Footed?

The answer is yes. It depends on the country and if the flat feet are symptomatic or asymptomatic.

Symptomatic flat feet (SFF) is a condition where the flat feet are accompanied by pains and are linked to other conditions such as arch pain, shin splints, plantar fasciitis and change in gait during physical activities. Asymptomatic flat feet (AFF) show no symptoms.

In the USA currently, the symptomatic flat feet are a disqualifying condition that cannot be waived.

People with asymptomatic flatfeet are not disqualified unless they show signs of pain or change in gait while running or marching.

If there is no pain associated with the flat feet because the person is using prescribed orthotic insoles, there is a chance of disqualification since this means that there is a chance of developing pains on the flat feet in the long run and after rigorous training.

This is because soldiers are always on their feet and sometimes need to run or walk long distances. It is also a measure to reduce the number of people who will eventually apply for disability compensations in the long run.

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Why Are Flat Feet Bad?

A flat foot is a condition that occurs when the foot arch becomes too low that they fully touch the ground when standing. The foot normally flattens when it carries the body weight in the standing position, but the flat foot does not retain the arch.

Flat foot is usually associated with pains on the foot, the ankle, and back. This is because the bodyweight is borne poorly by the flat foot and therefore transfer the shock to the ankles, legs, and hips.

A flat foot is not as capable as the normal foot in maintaining the stability of the body. As a result, the flat foot stands a higher chance of muscle strain since the muscles of other parts of the body recompense for the inability of the flat foot to help the body to be stable.

Also, the flat foot does not allow the body to maintain a proper standing posture. When the arch of the flat foot falls, the legs roll inwards thereby putting pressure on the heels and ankles. This, in turn, affects the legs, hip, and back.

Are Flat Feet Good for Anything?

The mindset towards flat feet is changing and the advantages of flat feet over other feet types are now being taken note of.

Studies found out that high-arched feet are more prone to injury than flat feet due to its very poor shock-absorbing ability.

There is also this assertion that flat feet might give an advantage to athletes.

The flat feet roll in when standing and walking. This rolling in helps the feet to absorb shock and protect it against injuries.

High arched feet rest on the heels and balls of the feet and do not absorb shock so well. The impact of the physical activities is sent back to the knees, back and hips.

How Can Flat Feet Be Treated?

The treatment of fallen and high arches depends on how severe it is and the root cause of it. If no pain or discomfort is felt, no treatment is necessary. These treatments can be used to manage and probably correct pes planus:

  1. Stretching exercises
  2. Weight loss
  3. Rest
  4. Ice to reduce swelling and pain
  5. Orthotic insoles and cast
  6. Physical therapy
  7. Medication for pain relief
  8. Inflammation injections
  9. Surgery such as arthrodesis, excision, synovectomy, osteotomy, and lateral column lengthening.
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VIDEO: How To Fix Flat Feet Naturally

This video suggests natural ways you can use to fix flat feet without surgery or orthotics.


A flat foot is a condition that can be managed if there is no discomfort or pain. Can you join the military if you possess a flat foot?

The answer depends on the type and cause of the flat feet and if the pain is felt before, during or after physical activities or standing for a while.

To further know your stand, consult a military staff or recruiter to help you decide and expose you to other requirements.

This will help you to be better informed on the tenets of the service and to know if you are physically or mentally fit for it.