People with flat feet often get anxious when getting into martial arts training due to their pain while running or performing strenuous tasks.
But there have been exceptional martial artists who have achieved greatness despite having flat feet, and so can you.
Nearly everyone has flat feet when they are children; the longitudinal arch in your feet develops between the ages of three and seven.
A natural arch develops as you grow up, which is essential for proper balance and shock absorption.
Let’s take a look at the best martial arts for flat feet, the pros and cons of having flat feet, and getting into martial arts regardless of your condition.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- Can You Do Martial Arts With Flat Feet?
- Disadvantages Of Flat Feet In Martial Arts
- Are There Any Advantages Of Having Flat Feet In Martial Arts?
- Best Martial Arts For Flat Feet
- Flat Feet Briefly Explained
- Tips For Training With Flat Feet
- Exercises For Flat Footed Martial Artist
- Can You Correct Flat Feet?
- Best Martial Arts Shoes For Flat Feet
- Barefoot Martial Arts Orthotics
- Final Thoughts About The Best Martial Arts For Flat Feet
Can You Do Martial Arts With Flat Feet?
You can do all sorts of Martial Arts with flat feet. This includes MMA, Boxing, Muay Thai, and Jiu-Jitsu. There are numerous fighters with a low-arch on their feet—for example, Randy Couture, Tim Silvia, and Antonio Margarito.
There should be no reason to assume that the condition is debilitating for your martial arts aspirations.
However, Flat-footed people need to worry about their bodies’ stability and injuries to their shins, knees, and hips. These usually occur because they cause muscle spasms, shin splints, and calf fatigue when you overwork your feet.
Be careful with plantar fasciitis
In some circumstances, a condition known as plantar fasciitis can occur. Plantar fasciitis seriously hinders an athlete’s performance.
The key to avoiding plantar fasciitis is to stretch regularly and use arch supports while running. Adding arch supports will help stabilize your foot mechanics and improve your balance.
But if you are doing a martial art such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, your feet won’t suffer as much since you will be on your back most of the time.
Disadvantages Of Flat Feet In Martial Arts
It is entirely possible to train any martial art with your genetic condition. But there are three drawbacks to having flat feet:
Vulnerability to Injuries
Having flat feet makes you more vulnerable to leg-related injuries. This is because your legs cannot properly absorb the shock whenever your feet make contact with the ground. This impact travels to your shins, hips, and back.
If not corrected early, this can cause long-term problems.
Unlike someone with a higher arch, you cannot generate enough springiness and stability. This hinders your mobility and explosiveness.
Moreover, your foot mechanics can cause a chain reaction that affects your upper body. And having a stable posture is essential in all martial arts.
Issues With Running
Running is a crucial element in all martial arts. To build up your gas tank, you will have to run long distances to generate enough aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Although, with flat feet, you are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
But with the right shoes, a consultation with your podiatrist, and biomechanical correction, you can overcome this problem.
Are There Any Advantages Of Having Flat Feet In Martial Arts?
Flat feet are not completely bad for martial arts. One of the critical points in combat sports is to plant your feet flat when it’s time to throw your hands. Mirko Crop Cop and John Wayne Parr; both are flat-footed athletes with exceptional striking power.
Being flat on your feet can enable you to generate more power from your feet and land vicious blows in Boxing, Muay Thai, Karate, and MMA.
Best Martial Arts For Flat Feet
Aikido is a Japanese martial suitable for you because it only requires that you stay in a proper posture.
It doesn’t require any jumping or kicking, so your feet are at less risk of injuries. If you want to learn some cool moves, this will be a great martial art for flat feet.
2. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Jiu-Jitsu is a form of ground combat, so footwork is not essential if you’re playing guard. You will be performing most of your footwork from a standing position; your flat feet won’t interfere as much.
Also, BJJ combat tends to get to the ground fast. Avoid guard passing if your flat feet are giving you some pain.
Judo is a martial art that is particularly good for flat feet. You will generate lots of power without the danger of injuries. This is a great sport to start your future in martial arts if you have flat feet.
The goal in Judo is to throw your opponent on the ground. To do this, you must use your hips and upper body. It will be much easier to complete the throw if you can maintain a lower center of gravity than your opponent.
Tai-Chi is a martial art that is best performed on flat feet. It is a traditional Chinese exercise that combines the philosophy of yin and yang.
Tai-Chi is excellent for relaxation and will reduce your stress levels in a short time.
You must be careful when practicing this martial art, though. It may take a significant amount of time to develop the techniques. However, that’s a characteristic of most martial arts.
discover more martial arts you can train
Flat Feet Briefly Explained
A flat foot is most prevalent in small children. A majority of the population suffers from flat feet when they are young, between the ages of seven. You will naturally develop an arch in your feet as you grow up.
Although, this deformation is a consequence of the modern way of living. Traveling has been outsourced to vehicles instead of walking barefoot.
People with office jobs are sitting on a chair all day and rarely walk on rough terrain, which is essential to strengthening the muscles of the feet.
It is evident that professions, where people are less likely to move or sit for longer or use inadequate footwear, can cause this deformation.
The Biology of Flat Feet
Typically, we have two arches:
The longitudinal arch is released earlier, and the transverse arch follows. Even though all children have the condition pes planus congenitus, gradual development of the arch occurs as soon as they start relying on their feet.
The first stage in developing this deformation occurs by weakening the foot muscles, specifically those that hold the longitudinal arch.
This stage is known as pes valgus. The second stage in this deformation is called pes plano — in which foot muscles lose their tone quite significantly.
The ligaments and the Achilles tendon
What follows this deformation are changes in the ligaments and the Achilles tendon. These deformations occur primarily in childhood. If they are identified earlier, then with the use of arches, they can be cured naturally.
The use of orthotics (shoe inserts) can help improve foot position. These insoles are made from soft gel-like material or a hard sponge mass.
Along with orthotics, one can use a combination of foot exercises that can develop the feet muscles.
Tips For Training With Flat Feet
If you are in a sport such as Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, or Karate. Then flat feet can pose a problem, especially when you are doing cardio, on your feet for multiple rounds, skipping rope, or just practicing your kicks. Using the advice below will help you sustain long hours of training.
Use Proper Footwear
Footwear is vital for flat-footed athletes engaged in Martial Arts that require them to fight on their feet. Proper motion control shoes are suitable for people with rigid flat feet. This will control your motion and prevent any wrong movements.
Avoid Practicing On Uneven Surfaces
When you are out in the sun, building up your gas tank, make sure to avoid uneven surfaces. Because when you run on rough terrain or practice your kicks, additional pressure is being put on your ankles and knee joints.
Uneven ground can accentuate your pronation problem.
Use A Foot Wrap or Grip Socks
For flat-footed athletes in Boxing and MMA, adding orthotic arch support inserts in your shoes can give you extra support while sparring or practicing on the heavy bag.
But if you are doing Muay Thai or BJJ, it is recommended that you use grip socks that will help with your shins and ankles. Another great option is to use foot wraps, which can add additional support to your ankles and prevent shin splints.
Exercises For Flat Footed Martial Artist
Many people with flat feet overlook the importance of exercising their feet. You have to work certain foot muscles to strengthen them.
Certain people believe that adding insoles can heal their deformity, but that is not the case. Without adding specific exercises to your regimen, you cannot overcome your condition.
- Place your hands in a wall at about shoulder level.
- Put one leg forward and extend the leg behind you.
- Press your heels into the floor.
- Keep your back straight while bending your front leg. Push yourself into the wall feeling a stretch in your back leg and Achilles tendon.
- Hold this stretch for 30 to 45 seconds.
- Repeat the process two or three times on each leg.
Tennis/Golf Ball Rolls
- While standing, put a tennis ball under your foot.
- Maintain a straight position as you roll the ball forward and backward under your foot, focusing on the arch.
- Do this process for one to three minutes.
- Then make the same motion on the other foot.
- Stand with your feet under your hips.
- Keep the toes engaged with the floor, roll your weight to the outer side of your feet as you elevate your arches as much as possible.
- Then release your feet back down slowly. You want soft-controlled movements here. You’ll work the muscles that help you lift and supinate your arches.
- Perform two-three sets of 10–15 repetitions.
Calf Raises For Martial Artist
- While standing, elevate your heels as high as possible.
- You can use the wall to help with your balance.
- Hold the upper position for 5 seconds before lowering back down to the floor.
- Do two-three sets of 15–20 repetitions.
Stair Arch Raises
- Stand on the stairs with your left foot one step higher than your right foot.
- Use your left foot to balance your weight as you lower your right foot, so your heel hangs lower than the step.
- Slowly elevate your right heel as high as possible, focusing on strengthening your arch.
- Rotate your arch inward as your knee and calf rotate slightly to the side, causing your arch to become higher.
- Calmly go back down to the initial position.
- Do 2–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions on both sides.
Can You Correct Flat Feet?
Flat feet can be corrected if you take action at an early age. However, people can do several things to help with their condition at any age. If you are a martial artist with flat feet, here are a few things you can try.
Buy The Right Shoes
Getting the correct type of shoes can mitigate the pain and discomfort caused by flat feet. As you might be more prone to injuries and conditions like plantar fasciitis, wearing the right shoes will alleviate your pain.
Using compression socks, arch supports, custom orthotics, or insoles will drastically improve the arch of your feet.
Consult A Podiatrist
In martial arts, running, jumping, and kicks are pretty standard exercises. So if you do not fix your foot mechanics, it will hinder your progress. Most conditions develop in your knees and hips.
You need to consult a sports podiatrist, who will assess the biomechanics of your stride and impact.
A podiatrist will help you determine the cause of your low arch and discuss the changes in your lifestyle that you need to make and which exercises might help you relieve the pain and train better.
Don’t Lose Hope
Many people often get discouraged when their condition causes them to fall short of their martial arts goals.
If you are anxious about starting martial arts, there is no need to worry. Most of the time, you will be practicing on the mats barefooted. Which will eventually help strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles.
Moreover, there are hundreds of athletes worldwide who have made it big despite having flat feet.
Best Martial Arts Shoes For Flat Feet
Shoes are necessary for running, sparring, skipping rope, and building up your gas tank. Although, most of the time during training, you will be barefoot.
However, try these shoes out for maximum comfort when you are not in the gym and out running.
Brooks Adrenaline is great for overall running. They are built to offer added support and provide no discomfort. You can find this shoe in multiple colors, widths, and sizes. Great for everyday running.
Adidas Men’s Pretereo
Great for athletes that are looking to up their wrestling game. The Adidas Men’s Pretereo is perfect for ankle support and comfort.
These are perfect for people with flat and broad feet. Moreover, their reinforced ankle+supportive heel structure ensures added protection and support.
Reebok Boxing Boots
The Reebok Boxing Boots are the highest quality boxing boots out there. For our boxing enthusiasts, use these to help with your flat feet.
They have a raised heel and maximum protection at the ankles. Not only that but the sole in these shoes is thin, which will allow more mobility as you pivot and punch.
The Reebok Boxing Boots are made from the highest quality material so that these babies will last you a long time. They are a good bet and should be one of your top options.
Barefoot Martial Arts Orthotics
You will be barefoot most of the time for martial arts such as BJJ, Judo, and Muay Thai. This can cause significant discomfort to those with a lower arch in their feet. What options do we have to mitigate that? Martial Arts Orthotics.
The MAO Orthotics (short for Martial Arts Orthotics) — are designed for combat sports by martial artists under Canada’s leading chiropodists.
Using a barefoot martial arts orthotic can mitigate conditions such as plantar fasciitis. With proper arch support, you will have a low risk of developing knee and lower back pain.
Using these orthotics will help your feet better absorb impacts and reduce shin splints.
The toe band in these orthotics will prevent the sleeve from rolling up under the foot during sparring and back and forth movements. So if you’re looking to support your feet during BJJ, Judo, or Muay Thai, then the MAO Orthotics are a perfect option.
Final Thoughts About The Best Martial Arts For Flat Feet
The most important thing for people with flat feet is to build up their strength. While you are out of contention for MMA or Muay Thai, you can choose one of the other martial arts that doesn’t require you to run as much.
In the end, no doubt having flat feet makes it a bit difficult for you to do martial arts. But with the right gear and training, it is possible to learn any form of martial arts.
Remember to take care of your feet and use proper orthotics, sole inserts, foot grips, and lots of stretching to improve your condition.
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