Podiatry in Sports: At Closer Look at Taijuan Walker’s Flat Feet

Although he is reportedly unlikely to miss his next start against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker’s recent announcement that he suffers from flat feet did catch the attention of baseball fans around the league.

Flat-Feet-Walker

Podiatry in Sports: Taijuan Walker

Walker, who owns a 3-6 record in 13 starts this season, is currently dealing with tendinitis and inflammation in the posterior tibial tendon, which runs near the Achilles and controls support to the arch in the foot.

Head athletic trainer Rick Griffin, however, noted that this problem actually stems from Walker having extremely flat feet.

“It’s way better today,” Walker told the Seattle Times of his condition on Wednesday. “I’ve had it before. I just stay on it (treatment) and make sure I tape it all up, make sure everything is good and secure.”

The question now is: What does having flat feet mean for Walker’s future?

A flat foot, also known as pes planus, is normal in infants and toddlers, because the foot’s arch hasn’t yet developed. These arches typically develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop arches, which can lead to flat foot disorder.

The arch, or instep, is the middle part of the foot that’s usually raised off the ground when you stand, while the rest of the foot remains flat on the ground. If you have flat feet, however, a fallen arch causes your foot to roll inwards and your entire sole comes close to touching the ground.

Arches can also fall over time due to overall wear and tear that weakens the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps support your arch.

With a fallen arch, your tendons and ligaments weaken and cause intense pain throughout your feet, ankles, and lower leg muscles, especially in the region of your arch and heel.

“If you are suffering from flat feet, as Taijuan Walker does, it means that you have a biomechanical fault in the mid-tarsal region,” said Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum of Delray Beach Podiatry. “When this happens, the arch is not actually present and, upon ambulation, the arch will flatten out. This creates a lot of soft tissue problems and joint problems later on in life.”

Flat feet can also contribute to problems in your ankles and knees because the condition can alter the alignment of your legs. If you aren’t having pain, no treatment is usually necessary for flatfeet. Additionally, if left untreated, the condition can also lead to weakened posture and discomfort through your hips and lower back.

In Walker’s case, Dr. Goldbaum notes that the best treatment possible would be having arch-support orthotics specially crafted to fit the ailing pitchers feet.

Unlike its over-the-counter cohort, a custom-made orthotic can only be manufactured after a podiatrist has conducted a complete evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs, so the orthotic can accommodate your unique foot structure and pathology. Although there are several different types of orthotics, most fall under the categories of either functional or accommodative. Functional orthotics are designed to support abnormal foot biomechanics. They are usually made of materials such as plastic polymer and are good for reducing foot pronation.

By utilizing a dynamic walking scan analysis, a doctor will be  able to create a holistic picture of the forces acting on Walker’s feet and throughout his body as well as pressure distribution and foot motion as he moves (specifically while pitching). Additionally, a static analysis assessment of his feet and posture will be done while standing motionless in order to provide information regarding his weight distribution and forces going through different regions of your feet

“He’s going to want something with shock absorption properties,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “From heel strike all the way through gait, they’ll be able to offload the areas of pain that he is currently suffering from. They’ll likely make an actual plaster cast of his foot to get the perfect fit.”

If non-surgical treatments do not work, Dr. Goldbaum notes that surgery may someday be necessary in order to correct the problem, but a good pair of orthotics should be more than enough to get him through the season without any further problems.

“With the kind of technology ballplayers have at their disposal, I’m sure he’ll get the best orthotics money can buy,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “With that in mind, I’m sure he’ll be pain-free and good to go for the rest of the season.”

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The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from www.DelrayBeachPodiatry.com without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:

BOCA/DELRAY

16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445

561-499-0033

BOYNTON BEACH

8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472

561-499-0033