FLAT FEET MILITARY DISQUALIFICATIONS - CAN YOU JOIN THE MILITARY WITH FLAT FEET?

Flat Feet Military

Flat Feet Military Disqualifications – Can You Join The Military With Flat Feet?

Flat Feet Military Disqualifications seem to be something of an urban legend these days.

With countless reports of military aspirants being disqualified at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) for having flat feet. While on the flip side, there are countless others clearing MEPS without any problem.

Even Wikipedia is searching for a citation regarding it’s claim that having flat feet is not grounds for disqualification in the United States Military.

So do military aspirants get disqualified for having flat feet? And if the answer is yes, what can you do about your flat feet in order to join the military?

Lets find out.

Flat Feet Military Screening – Real Or Fake?

The medical evaluations at MEPS are performed to determine, whether or not you are physically fit to serve the United States Military.

And yes, your feet will absolutely be screened for flat feet at the Military Entrance Processing Station.

FLAT FEET MILITARY DISQUALIFICATIONS - CAN YOU JOIN THE MILITARY WITH FLAT FEET?

At the MEPS, candidates feet are evaluated for the following foot abnormalities:

  • Hallux Valgus or Bunions
  • Hammer Toes
  • Pes Cavus or High Arches (yes, believe it or not, having high arches also comes with its own set of problems)
  • And the dreaded – Pes Planus also known as Flat Feet

How Does The Military Screen A Candidate For Flat Feet?

At the MEPS, you will be asked to strip down to your underwear for the physical screening. You will then be asked to remove your shoes.

This is when you will be required to perform a series of awkward exercises in order to determine whether you are fit for military service.

Each exercise is specifically designed to expose any weakness in your joints, posture and gait.

If you have flat feet, then the exercise that will leave your arches open to scrutiny is the 90 degree stance.

You will be asked to stand straight with your heels touching at 90 degrees to each other. Standing this way will expose any weakness in your arches and the assessor will be able to tell whether you have flat feet or not.

How To Tell If You Have Flat Feet

To check if you have flat feet, simply stand beside a full length mirror with the arch of your foot facing it. If you see little to no gap between the ground and the arch of your foot, that means you have flat feet.

Note: Make sure to put weight on the foot you are trying to assess.

There are 3 different grades of flat feet. You will immediately be able to tell which one you fall under.

  1. Noticeably low arch in the foot – Grade-1
  2. The foot is lacking any arch – Grade-2
  3. The arch is concave – curved downward – Grade-3

Military Studies On Flat Feet

These are several military studies on the injury rates and performance of individuals with flat feet and those without. The study was performed on aspirants who reached military recruitment age without prior foot problems.

The results were interesting to say the least. The study revealed that injury rates were higher for those aspirants with high arches.

Another study tracked the Royal Australian Air-force Recruits over the course of their entire training period.

It found that neither flat feet nor high arches displayed any hindrance to the injury rates, physical functioning and foot health of the recruits. In fact it deduced that there was a tendency for those with flat feet to have fewer injuries.

Another study also found that those with high arches suffered close to 4 times as many stress fractures as those with lower arches.

Closer home, a study of 449 U.S. Navy special warfare trainees showed no significant difference in stress fractures suffered amongst sailors and marines with different arch heights.

Most of these studies have been inconclusive in determining any significant difference between those with flat feet and those without.

But this still does not mean that you cannot get disqualified from the military for flat feet.

So Why Does The Military Screen For Flat Feet?

We can all agree that walking, running and climbing are essential tasks that need to be carried out in the military.

This causes a lot of stress on the lower extremities of the body. And the arches of our feet absorb the shock on impact during these activities.

Having flat feet means the arches of the foot have fallen. This means they don’t function properly, transferring impact shock to the knees, hips and back.

This can lead to severe injury during active duty, something the You and the military needs to avoid at all  times.

Thus the military screens medical issues in order to ensure that the conditions:

  • Are not progressive (i.e. will not get worse with time)
  • Will not be subject to aggravation by military service
  • Will not hinder satisfactory completion of prescribed training and subsequent military duty
  • Won’t constitute an undue hazard to the you or to others, specifically under combat conditions

And having flat feet has the potential to fulfill all these aforementioned problems.

At the end of the day, joining the military requires a certain level of physical fitness. And having physical abnormalities that can be a hazard to you and your team is unacceptable.

That is why the military screens aspirants for flat feet.

But there is still hope for those of you with flat feet. Check out our guide on how to fix your flat feet, so you can remain injury free during your time on duty.

Can You Join The Military With Flat Feet?

The short answer is maybe. It all depends on the severity of the condition.

There are two types of flat feet which determine whether an aspirant can or cannot join the United States Military.

1. Flexible Fat Feet – Flexible flat feet are usually characterized by a relatively normal or low arch when in a non-weight bearing position.

The arch only flattens out when standing (load bearing position). This type of flat foot can be both asymptomatic or symptomatic.

Flexible flat feet can be easily treated with exercise. Grade 1 flat feet is a perfect example of this condition.

2. Rigid Flat Feet – This condition is characterized by a stiff flattened arch when in load and non-load bearing positions.

Rigid flat feet can also be treated with a dedicated exercise regimen.

Although sometimes, the arches may not respond to conservative treatment. This is when surgery is usually required.

Having rigid flat feet is far less common when compared to having flexible flat feet. Grade 2 and 3 flat feet are a perfect example of this condition.

You’re probably starting to notice that flat feet don’t always pose a problem the way people think.

If your flat feet are asymptomatic, i.e. do not cause pain, then you will most likely be able to join the United States Military.  

Is Wearing Orthotics For Flat Feet Grounds For Disqualification From Joining The Military?

I’ve always maintained that a holistic approach is required when fixing flat feet. The exercise regimen mentioned in the my article on “how to fix flat feet” is the front line in attacking the problem.

Orthotics and specialty shoes play a pivotal role in helping understand correct positioning in the arch of the foot.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the military, everyone gets standard issue equipment. There are no special shoes for those with flat feet, high arches or any other foot abnormality.

So how does someone with flat feet wear supportive footwear in the military?

Orthotics is the answer here.

The military will have no problem with you wearing custom orthotics, so long as it fits their standard issued equipment.

Of course, your feet should be able to function properly without the use of orthotics. The orthotic is only used for corrective measures.

This article on the best orthotics for flat feet should help you out.

I recommend using custom orthotics to understand proper arch and foot positioning.

 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, it is safe to say that we can finally put this myth to rest.

There are no flat feet military disqualifications so long as the condition does not cause you pain or discomfort.

Although, I highly recommend learning proper arch function in order to keep your feet healthy in the long run.

My articles on the Foot Tripod, is an excellent place to start.

Sources: 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3684468/

http://www.journalagent.com/nci/pdfs/NCI_1_1_57_64.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16130646

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