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Cracked Heels

COMMON CAUSES OF CRACKED HEELS

There are many reasons cracked heels can occur. Symptoms such as dry skin accumulating around your heels, or having cracked heels, toes or heel pain can cause discomfort. Knowing the causes can better help you understand the condition, and could prevent your foot health from becoming more serious. 

Different Causes

Cracked heels can form by several different causes. If you can identify anything below in your routine that may be affecting your foot health, then try altering your current routine. Find a list below of some of the most common causes that can allow cracked heels to form:

● Dryness or lack of moisture - The most common cause of cracked heels is often lack of moisture. Underneath your feet, the skin can be dry, rough or flaky; this is because of the sweat glands around your heels. Did you know, beneath the skin's surface there are fat deposits that prevent your feet from losing moisture? This can cause them to have a dry, rough and flaky surface, which also causes them to lose elasticity. 

● Deficiencies - Lack of vitamins and minerals can affect your heel health. 

● Accumulated Pressure - This is caused by spending prolonged periods on your feet standing at home or work.

● Mature and Aging skin - Over time skin loses its elasticity as we age, and as such cracks could have a higher incidence as you age. 

● Obesity - Being overweight or obese can put a lot of strain on the foot's padding underneath the heel. It causes the heel to flatten, creating extra cracks and dry crevasses around the heel or toes.

● Exposed Footwear - Open-back sandals or shoes can allow for your feet to be more exposed to weather and the elements. This can also increase the chance of cracks on your heels. Regularly taking care of your feet is essential when wearing exposing footwear.

● Hygiene - Unhygienic conditions can also cause your heels to become cracked or unhealthy.

● Water: Water can reduce natural oils from the skin; this can leave the skin rough and or dry. If you stand for prolonged periods in wet or damp areas, such as a bathroom, this can cause dry and cracked heels.

 ● Ill-Fitting: Change in walking posture or standing for a long amount of time in ill-fitting shoes can also contribute. Please refer to 'Choose the right shoes' blog for more information.

● Genetics: This is also a contributing factor to your own foot health. Naturally dry or calloused skin around the heel could be a genetic cause of cracked heels. 

How Do Cracked Heels form?  

Cracked heels, are also known as heel fissures and are a common foot condition. Depending on the severity, it can cause pain or discomfort. Pressure and dryness can lead to cracks and is often accompanied by thickened skin. Yellow or brown calluses can also build up around the heel, ball of your foot or toes. Unless they are deep and bleeding, usually the only problem with cracked heels is their appearance.

Prevent Cracked Heels

Boost foot hygiene with balms, moisturisers and or cleansers to help keep skin supple. Regularly using a FlipNFile in your shower and coupled with a good heel balm daily will greatly improve problem heels. Try it and see how your cracked heels can be improved. 

If your feet continue to cause you grief, we advise that you speak to a GP, podiatrist or dermatologist to find out if there more to it.

FOOT MYTHS

FOOT MYTHS

Is wearing high heels bad for your feet? Does walking on sand help any foot pain you have? And do kids need to wear special shoes with inserts?  

1. Heels are the main cause of all foot problems in women...

Not true. Now I’m not saying that heels are suitable for your feet, but many common foot problems are at similar rates in populations that don’t wear shoes. Heels can accelerate foot problems, but someone still has to have the traits that would cause the foot problem in the first place.

2. Walking barefoot is bad for your feet...

Not true. Walking barefoot helps to strengthen muscles, helps balance and coordination. In some cases, it may be uncomfortable, but this is usually due to tight lower leg muscles. You can fix this in many cases with simple stretching your calves.

3. You need supportive footwear; otherwise, you will get bad feet...

Not true. Recent studies suggest support in most types of supportive footwear isn’t actually doing anything to help control your foot and in fact, having less support can help to build strength in the long term.

4. You get foot pain because you’re getting old...

Not true. Foot pain in most cases is due to misalignment (or the bones of your feet being in the wrong place) and as a result flares up the soft tissues, which results in pain. The great news is it’s fixable.

5. Your feet don’t change once you’re an adult...

Feet change over the course of your life. For example, arches can get higher or lower. The great news is that practitioners can help do this in a positive way if foot structures are causing problems. 

A great example of feet changing is when women become pregnant, and the hormone relaxin causes feet to spread and become longer (this can cause a number of issues). The great news is we can usually reverse these effects and get the foot to change back to a similar size down the track.

6. You can’t change someone’s arch when they’re an adult...

Yes, you can, and we do it all the time. The arch is quite a dynamic structure that can adopt a new position with the right influences.

7. All thongs are bad for you...

No, there are some fantastic thongs on the market that provide excellent support. They are probably better for you than lots of expensive runners. Birkenstocks are an example of these, but there are many good quality thongs on the market, starting at about $30. Most people aren’t wearing thongs enough to cause a problem anyway.

8. To fix a foot problem, you have to wear special shoes with inserts...

This was the case once upon a time, but there are plenty of techniques to address the underlying cause without having to be restricted to orthotics or supportive footwear. There are gentle hands-on techniques which can improve the structures of the feet along with exercises.

9. Kids need supportive footwear...

Not true. Unless they have specific foot problems, children get huge advantages in bare feet or lighter shoes that give a barefoot sensation. In fact, we're finding that heavy supportive shoes in kids can actually impede normal function and interfere with balance and coordination. This is evident before five years and continues into the teens.

10. Walking on sand will help any foot pain you have.

A common misconception is that sand will help your foot if you have pain. In most cases, it will irritate any inflammation that you might have through the structures of your feet. If you have very good feet/biomechanics, then sand can help to strengthen, but most people don’t fall into that category.

For more information, go to www.alternativefootsolutions.com.au

References:

https://www.bhg.com.au/myths-about-feet

FUN FOOT FACTS

FUN FOOT FACTS

  • Approximately 2 out of 10 people consider their foot health regularly. That’s a lot of feet being neglected.
  • Feet often reflect your general health. Abnormalities or pain in the feet can often signal more serious health conditions.
  • Feet function best in their bare, or natural, state. The foot’s natural shape is when the heel and forefoot are level. Your toes need to flex, extend and spread freely. Shoes commonly elevate the heel and constrict the movement of the toes.
  • An ankle sprain is the most common foot ailment, even compared to blisters, calluses, foot fatigue, cracked skin and athlete’s foot!
  • Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common forms of foot pain. It affects more than 2 million people a year.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis can cause soreness in the joints, including the feet. More than 50 million adults (aged 18 and over) have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Women are more likely to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis at 26 percent, compared to 18 percent of men. (Source: Arthritis Foundation).
  • Foot massages can improve your mood and overall health, plus they feel good! For most people, it’s not feasible or practical to visit a masseuse regularly. If you’d like to give your feet frequent pampering, why not consider a foot massaging device for home use. (Did You Know? According to Harvard Health, massage devices from pharmacies or health stores can relax and restore your feet).
  • Cigarette smoking is the most significant cause of Peripheral Vascular Disease (disease of the arteries of the feet and legs), which can lead to pain on walking, ulceration and infection. independence (Source: Australian Podiatry Association Vic).
  • Two feet rarely are the same; one of them is often larger than the other. A survey conducted by the Pedorthic Footwear Association of the USA, in 1982 of 6000 Adult males and females in 23 cities, showed that they all had mismated feet! (Source: Pedorthic Footwear Association of USA).
  • Commonly seen in athletes, shin splints are a cumulative stress disorder caused by repetitive stresses on the bones, muscles and joints in the legs.

FUN FACTS - Did you know???

  • Your feet might be the most ticklish part of your body because we have 8,000 nerves in our feet.
  • The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body. It is essential for walking and running and connects the muscles in the lower leg with the heel bone.
  • Each foot takes 1.5 times your body weight while you walk. When running, your feet take up to five times your weight. Feet are your natural shock absorbers.
  • Over the course of a day, your feet take a cumulative force of a couple of hundred tons.
  • It takes approximately 12-18 months for a toenail to regrow completely.
  • Morton’s toe is the name given to the condition where the second toe is longer than the big toe. It affects 20-30% of the world’s population.
  • When we’re born, our feet are underdeveloped, which is why it takes time for arches to form.
  • 1 in 1,000 babies is born with an extra toe or finger. The condition is called polydactyly.
  • The bones in our feet don’t finish hardening until 21 years of age.
  • Although prosthetics have come a long way, the complexity of the human foot and ankle mean it is hard to replicate.
  • Shoe sizes were originally measured in barleycorns. This unit of measurement originated in the United Kingdom during the 14th century and is still being used around the world today. Based on the length of a grain of barley, each shoe size adds a third of an inch, corresponding to the fact that there are three barleycorns in an inch
  • Recently found in present-day Armenia, the first shoe dates back to 3,500 BC. Made of a single piece of leather.
  • Feet are also responsible for some weird and wonderful world records, listed by ‘Guinness World Records’. So unless you have podophobia or fear of feet, have fun reading about some fantastic feats that some feet have achieved!

MYTHS:

  • Athletic shoes are good for the feet and built to maximise comfort.
  • If I’ve broken a bone, I won’t be able to move it.

We hope you’ve learned a bit about your feet. Now you know how hard your feet work every day, we at FlipNFile remind you to take the time to care of them.

 

References:

https://www.thegoodbody.com/foot-facts/

https://www.podiatry.org.au/

https://www.podiatrists.org/

https://pedorthics.org.au/foot-facts/

https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/arthritis-statistics-facts.php

BUYING NEW SHOES

To help you choose the best shoes, right for you, FlipNFile has some practical tips and guides you can easily follow. Realising the perfect shoes you tried on in the shop are too painful or uncomfortable to wear is the worst, this happens when shape, size or material not being correctly selected or ill-fitting. 

Socks - When buying shoes, try them on with the type of socks you think you would wear with them. Go shopping wearing them already or carry a pair in your bag.

Length - To avoid any rubbing, make sure your toes have room. Shoes should be approximately 1cm longer than your foot. Get a proper fitting. They will need to measure the length of your foot from the heel to the tip of your longest toe.

Width - At the broadest point, the shoe should be snug on your foot; this prevents chafing caused by your shoe rubbing. Make is no pressure points, if you can’t wiggle your toes, the shoes are too tight. 

Depth - If you can still flex your foot, the depth of the shoe is right if you. The upper should not put pressure on the top of your foot, especially at the tip. Pressure can cause skin irritation such as blisters, nail problems and toe cramps.

Heels - Unstable heel let your foot slide around and makes your gait unbalanced, leading to arch pain and possibly blister. The shoe should fit firmly around your heel, especially in athletic shoes.

Insole - It’s essential to choose an insole or a specialised shoe with a shaped insole that can support your foot in the right places. Removable insoles are very practical. Your foot-care professional such as Podiatrist or Orthotic specialist, can advise on your individual needs. They can be removed to put in orthotic insoles. They can also be widened to allow for foot swelling during the day.

 Lining - The shoe lining should be smooth, with no raised stitching or wrinkles; this will ensure you avoid any irritation or blisters.

Upper - It should be flexible and not restrict foot movement, whatever the material of the upper. Breathability is also important to consider, so your feet don’t overheat and produce odours. 

Sole - Try to pick shoes that protect from stones or other objects on the ground that could hurt your foot too. The material of the sole should be lightweight, durable and have a good grip.

Fastening - When possible, choose shoes with laces, Velcro or buckles, so you can adjust the fit to suit your needs. Loose-fitting footwear will cause discomfort and most likely, blisters.

Size - Try on both shoes. People’s feet can be slightly different sizes, so its best to choose shoes that suit the larger foot. Make sure you stand up as your foot widens when you put your body weight on it. By the time we reach adulthood, our feet tend to be fully developed. Our foot size and shape can still change with age, medical conditions or pregnancy. The fit and the shape of the shoe makes a difference, so it’s best to choose a comfortable fit to accommodate your foot better.

Try Before You Buy - Put them on both feet and make sure you walk around the shop with the shoes both on. Make sure they are comfortable on both feet when walking in them. 

 

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