We know that Michael Phelps has a body that makes him especially suited for excelling at swimming.
But did you know this?…
In addition to the long torso, amazing wingspan, and double-jointed body, “his size 14 feet reportedly bend 15 degrees further at the ankle than most other swimmers", turning his feet into flippers. This flexibility also extends to his knees and elbows, possibly allowing him to get more out of each stroke.” Source
While big feet are an asset to swimmers, gymnasts need tiny feet to stay on the balance beam. It is estimated that her feet are a size 5 or 6. Nastia Liukin’s feet are described as "dainty".
While feet can give an Olympian the winning edge, they can also take away the chances of a medal.
Olympic Foot Injuries
The Chinese public is crushed and many publicly weep because of the Achilles heel injury that China’s favorite Liu Xiang sustained during the Olympics.
The athlete responded, "I still know I have the ability and I am still at my peak… It is only because of my foot, which will get better one day. As long as I cure my feet, there will be other opportunities. I will not quit easily."
Other Olympic athletes had similar injury issues:
American Terrence Trammell could not make it over the hurdles due to a hamstring injury.
Ireland’s Alistair Cragg withdrew early due to an Achilles injury.
American gymnast Morgan Hamm pulled out out early due to an ankle injury. (His twin brother also pulled out with a shoulder injury.)
Others push on despite their injuries.
In contrast to Monday’s preliminaries, Alexandre Despatie, 23, was on his game Tuesday morning. His lowest score was a 79.05. Otherwise, 4 of his dives were in the 80s (81, 89.25, 89.25, and 88.40) and one, his final dive, was in the 90s (91.80). He’s had to shake considerable rust after missing 7 weeks of training in April and May with a broken right foot. But he said he woke up Tuesday morning feeling like his old self.” Source
Yao Ming is recovering from a broken foot but is still managing to compete in the Olympic games. So far, he has led China to victory against Angola in spite of his foot injury.
Athletes Need The Proper Shoes
Anatomy isn’t the only foot advantage that Olympians have. Footwear is just as important.
Just as this years’ swimmers have special swimsuits that give them a competitive edge, there are also customized shoes to help them make their goals.
One company in particular, eSoles uses special technology to fit athletes with the perfect shoes for their feet.
Feet are scanned 3-dimensionally, using the same digitized technology found in video games or Hollywood movies. The scan pulls all kinds of crazy information: exterior shape, pressure points, force, power, etc.” Source
Not only are they making shoes, but they are also collecting the world’s largest database of footprints. Look for eSoles research findings on “footbeds” after the 2008 Olympic games.