A callus is an area of the skin with an excess buildup of keratinocytes (cells that produce the keratin which makes up the outer layer of skin).  The cells proliferate in response to any excess in pressure or friction.  This is your body's natural protective response traumatic stimuli.  The most common places for calluses to form are the hands and the feet.  I commonly get a callus buildup on my hands when doing pulling exercises at the gym.  This can get irritating which is why many heavy lifters use chalk or lifting gloves.

The feet are also a very common place for callus formation.  The average active adult will walk over 5000 steps a day which equates to over 2 miles.  Every step puts your entire body weight and momentum onto your shoes which in turn transfers that pressure to your feet.  That's a lot of pressure and friction every single day.  The feet are built to handle this pressure and for most people it's not a problem.  However, many people get a buildup of calluses.  For the trained eye, these calluses are obvious patterns of wear that indicate problem areas in the foot.  Common places for callus formation are the heel, metatarsal heads (the balls of your feet), side of the big toe, and on top of the toes. 

Without getting too technical, let's just say that the foot has more going on biomechanically than any other location in your body.  With 26 bones in each foot interacting with each other at 33 joints it doesn't take much to throw the system out of wack.  The purpose of these joints is to absorb the body weight and propel you along while expending the least amount of energy possible.  Your body is remarkably efficient at locomotion. 

So what can throw the system out of wack?

·         Wearing shoes that interfere with normal motion or don't properly distribute the weight

·         Variations in foot structure that can predispose to abnormal weight distribution

·         rapid weight gain that puts more stress on the foot than it can handle

·         Trauma that alters growth at a young age

·         Anything that causes pronation

·         Arthritis, pain, or injury which may cause you to alter your gait to alleviate the pain

The list can go on but you get the idea.  When you visit your podiatrist, you can bet he'll be looking at your calluses for clues as to what may be happening with your foot.  In many cases the reason for callus formation is benign such as a recent change in shoes or increase in activity.  In other cases, orthotics may be able to relieve the callus formation and correct a biomechanical abnormality. 

If you are curious as to why you have recurrent callus formation, then I encourage you to make an appointment with your local podiatrist at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Care located in Edison and Monroe NJ today.  Have a great day and remember to take care of your feet!

By Nrupa Shah