Why Is Flat Feet Not Allowed in the Army

Why Is Flat Feet Not Allowed in the Army?

The military is known for its rigorous physical requirements, and the army is no exception. Among the many medical conditions that can disqualify individuals from serving in the army, flat feet is one that often raises questions. Flat feet, also known as pes planus, is a condition where the arches of the feet are flattened, causing the entire sole of the foot to touch the ground. While having flat feet may not necessarily hinder daily activities or athletic performance for many individuals, the army has specific reasons for not allowing recruits with this condition. In this article, we will dive into the main reasons why flat feet are not allowed in the army and address some frequently asked questions.

1. Lack of stability and balance: Flat feet can affect an individual’s stability and balance, which are crucial in combat situations. Soldiers need to be agile and surefooted, especially when navigating challenging terrains or engaging in physical combat. Flat feet can compromise these essential skills, potentially putting the soldier and their comrades at risk.

2. Increased risk of foot injuries: Soldiers often endure long marches, heavy loads, and physically demanding activities. Flat feet can lead to overpronation, where the feet roll excessively inward while walking or running. Overpronation can increase the risk of foot injuries, such as stress fractures, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. By disallowing flat feet, the army aims to reduce the likelihood of such injuries that could hinder a soldier’s ability to perform their duties effectively.

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3. Limited footwear options: Soldiers are provided with standardized footwear that is designed to offer optimal support and protection. However, individuals with flat feet may require custom orthotics or specialized shoes to alleviate discomfort and provide adequate arch support. The army may find it logistically challenging to accommodate individual needs, especially during deployments or in remote areas where specialized footwear may not be readily available.

4. Potential exacerbation of existing conditions: Flat feet can sometimes be associated with other musculoskeletal conditions, such as knee pain, hip pain, or lower back pain. The army aims to select individuals who are physically fit and less prone to developing chronic conditions that could limit their effectiveness during service. By disqualifying recruits with flat feet, the army reduces the potential risk of exacerbating existing conditions or developing new ones.

5. Cost-effectiveness: The army has to consider the financial implications of accommodating recruits with flat feet. Providing specialized footwear or orthotics to a large number of individuals can significantly increase costs. By disallowing flat feet, the army can allocate resources more efficiently and focus on other aspects of training and readiness.


1. Can I still join the army if I have flat feet?
Unfortunately, having flat feet disqualifies you from enlisting in the army.

2. What if I had corrective surgery for flat feet?
Generally, corrective surgery for flat feet does not guarantee eligibility to join the army. Each case is evaluated individually, and it is best to consult with a military medical professional for an accurate assessment.

3. Can I appeal the decision if I am disqualified due to flat feet?
If disqualified, you can request a medical waiver, which involves submitting medical documentation and an appeal letter. The final decision rests with the military medical authorities.

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4. Are other branches of the military more lenient on flat feet?
The standards for flat feet may vary among different branches of the military. However, it is best to consult the specific requirements of the branch you are interested in joining.

5. What if I develop flat feet after enlisting?
If you develop flat feet while serving in the army, it will generally not lead to immediate disqualification. However, it may be taken into consideration during medical evaluations and could potentially impact certain assignments or duties.

6. Can I still serve in a civilian capacity for the army if I have flat feet?
Yes, having flat feet does not necessarily disqualify you from civilian roles within the army. However, certain positions may still have specific physical requirements that need to be met.

7. Are there any exemptions for highly skilled individuals?
In some cases, highly skilled individuals with specialized training or expertise may be granted waivers for certain medical conditions, including flat feet. These exemptions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

8. Can I join the army reserves or National Guard with flat feet?
The standards for the army reserves or National Guard may differ from active duty requirements. It is advisable to consult the specific guidelines and requirements for these branches.

In conclusion, the army’s decision to disallow individuals with flat feet is based on the need for physical readiness, stability, and the prevention of foot injuries. While it may be disappointing for those with flat feet who aspire to serve, there are still opportunities to contribute to the military in other capacities or explore alternative career paths within the armed forces.

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