Judo training may help to prevent flat feet and other foot deformities in children, says a study published online in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics B. Boys who regularly practiced judo had significantly higher foot arches and better balance than a control group of relatively inactive boys, the study found.
Recent studies have shown that flat feet are common in children, especially boys who are overweight and unfit. Those conditions can alter foot position, gait and balance, the researchers said. They suggest judo may be a more appealing fitness activity for young boys than traditional gymnastic exercises to help prevent flat feet. Judo is mostly performed barefoot and on a soft surface, which stimulates sensory receptors on the bottom of the foot, they said.
Judo (meaning "gentle way") is a modern martial art, combat and Olympic sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano . Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the objective is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke. Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet as well as weapons defenses are a part of judo, but only in pre-arranged forms (kata,) and are not allowed in judo competition or free practice. A judo practitioner is called a judoka.