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Blog guest: Mare Pamuković – Flat feet and swimming

She used to swim and win medals as a junior swimmer. Today, more than two decades later, she is still in the world of swimming, educating professional swimmers in Croatia and beyond. In her career as a swim coach she devoted herself to the youngest ones, especially children having degenerative spinal and hip problems. For Swimming Dad as our #Blog guest, Mare Pamuković is telling us her story about flat feet and about whether and how swimming can help the children suffering from flat feet have a normal life. She is also telling us whether children who start swimming early may have issues with flat feet later in their life.

Mare has gained her great experience of almost a decade by working in the Croatian Swimming Association, following and supporting the national swimming teams in local and international competitions.

How can swimming help children suffering from flat feet?

I can tell you from my own experience. I have had flat feet forever (all fallen arches). I remember well that I had always had that problem before I started swimming. All my activities and plays “on the dry” would bring me a strong pain after just a couple of minutes even though I wore orthopaedic insoles and quality footwear.

And then swimming “happened”… the activity in the liberating water surrounding which actually marked the rest of my life. Doing the sport which does not cause you any pain in the feet was totally a new experience for me back then. The water, as a relaxing medium with no force and with minimal pressure to the feet, was a relief itself.

I still have flat feet, swimming hasn’t helped me in that aspect to stiffen my muscles and strengthen my ligaments, but it has helped me by alleviating the pressure from my feet so I never felt the pain again. I could give myself fully to my physical maximum.

Can swimming solve the problem of flat feet in children? And how?

I’m not sure thatswimming can solve the problem of flat feet as this problem requires the intervention of all muscle groups. We know that our feet are relaxed in the water and that there are mostly no significant force and pressure they need to suffer.

The thing which might be helpful to those children are the activities on a gravel beach as such activities engage the entire musculature of the feet and help in strengthening the ligaments, as well as various feet exercises and exercises for lower leg muscles, customised orthopaedic insoles which redistribute the feet pressure…

Many sports innervate specific groups of feet muscles which, due to overloaded muscles, result in flat feet or other deformities.

Feet of a swimmer are exposed to the public eye and this might be the reason why we usually relate flat feet with swimming, though many athletes of “dry” sports have problems with feet and various deformities due to the pressure and overload suffered by their feet.

Do children who swim from a very early age suffer from flat feet?

Many children suffering from flat feet actually develop that problem much before they start swimming. Flat feet occur at the age of three. What I know is that children who don’t suffer from flat feet from the very start are unlikely to develop flat feet later, after starting swimming.

How can parents use swimming to help their children’s feet feel more relaxed?

Apart from swimming, resting and relaxing of feet, the best way to help your feet feel better is having a massage and customised orthopaedic insoles, and I also recommend specific feet exercises to strengthen the feet arches which could eventually lead to the elimination of the pain. Swimming makes the ligaments and muscles more resilient, but not to the extent to affect the fallen arches.

In every segment in her life, be it on the dry or in the water, Mare Pamuković follows the rule that “on your way to reach your goal it is important to remain a good human”. This is why she has created her personal story through: Make Waves swimming activities


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