What are cracked heels.
When the skin around the heels form callus, it can often split or crack and become very painful to walk on.
Heel callus forms due to continual high loading of friction on the skin. If this does not change, the callus often builds up to the point where deep cracks will result. These are very painful and can alter gait causing other foot and ankle conditions.
Cracked heels can be exacerbated by weather and footwear such as backless shoes and thongs worn in dry hot weather. This creates friction on the heels which builds callus and together with the dry air, results in cracked heels.
Increased weight bearing activity in closed shoes such as in exercising or in occupations where the feet are predisposed to loading, friction and moisture (perspiration), can also cause cracked callused heels.
Weight gain in pregnancy can also predispose to cracked heels due to increased pressure and friction on the heels and the need for open footwear due to swollen feet.
Foot posture and gait patterns can also cause increased callus and splits on the heels. Walking barefeet increases the loading on the heels which can eventually build up callus and cause splits through friction. Footwear with a wedged heel sole like a sneaker and supportive heel counter can alleviate the load and frictional forces on the heels. Such footwear alters the gait pattern so the heels have less time on the ground surface and encourages forward movement of the foot due to the wedged heel sole.