• Sun04December 2016
  • Running in winter: cracked heels

    There’s nothing quite like a morning run on a glorious winter’s morning. The air is fresh, there’s glistening frost on the ground and the sun is low in the sky creating a kaleidoscope of colour across the horizon. It really is one of the most wonderful times of the year. Or would be if you weren’t riddled with pain in the foot department. Now I’m not talking about injury (for once) nor blisters. What I am currently faced with (and it’s my body’s way of telling me the temperature has dropped) is painful cracked heels.

    Glorious weather for running (if only my feet would cooperate)

    Glorious weather for running (if only my feet would cooperate)

    What do I mean by cracked heels?

    Little fissures on the back of your feet that are difficult to treat because you are constantly pounding them on the path or trails. Not only are very painful, they can also, from time to time, bleed. There have even been times when fluff from socks or mud from cross-country can get stuck up the cracks causing pain and potential infection. All in all, it can get pretty grim down there.

    Anything else worth noting (that’s not too disgusting)?

    As you can imagine, cracked heels are not the easiest to run on. In fact, you try to actively avoid it and can cause potential problems in terms of changing your gait.

    So best avoided then?


    How do you treat cracked heels (fissures)?

    Prevention is always better than cure – so treat your feet regularly throughout the year to keep them in tip-top shape. Post-shower (or bath if you ever have time for that little luxury), remove dead skin and then moisturise them straight after to retain some of the hydration.

    Neglecting to do so (hands up as I fall into this pot) will increase your chances of suffering from cracked heels. And if it happens, you may find an everyday moisturiser is not strong enough to soothe and calm the skin. Now some home remedies out there recommend peeing on your heels. While this may sound disgusting, there’s a theory behind it. Just take a look at the ingredients of any medically proven treatment for dry and cracked feet and you’ll find urea listed as one of the active ingredients.

    What is urea? Urea is an organic, waste compound produced by the body during the metabolic process. It is then excreted through either sweat or urine. Don’t worry, you’re not smothering someone else’s wee all over your feet. The urea found in cosmetics is manufactured in a laboratory but it mimics the soothing properties of human urine.

    Flexitol Heel balm

    Flexitol Heel balm

    The point is anything with urea will definitely help soothe those feet. Personally, I prefer the medical route and always reach for something like Flexitol Heel balm. Since I’m impatient and hate waiting around for moisturiser to absorb into the skin, I tend to smother my heels at night and then pop a pair of cotton socks on before I go to bed to let the cream soak in. And if my feet are in a diabolical state (as they are at this moment), I’ll also apply it in the morning.

    Any further advice?

    The key is to add this to your daily routine and make it as important as your facial moisturiser. Treat your feet with respect as they carry the load.






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