For centuries, people have been plagued by thick, horny “ledges” around the heel of the foot and the bottom, sometimes all the way up to the pad before the toes. The same thing happens to the side of the big toe, often with so much callus that it makes wearing shoes uncomfortable.
Sometimes, it is the position of the foot itself while walking or dancing, etc. that determines the thickness and position of calluses. For example, the pidgeon toe (where the foot turns slightly inward) has thicker calluses on the outside back of the heel and the side ridge up to the toes. I was born this way, and it somehow gave me an extra edge with balance in my youth. I could perform daring feats for the other kids by walking the ridgeline of a peaked roof on a house, the top of high fences or log bridges over streams in our backwoods! As the years wore on, this set up osteo problems in my knee, hip and lower back. Trying to think “walk like a duck,” I attempted to correct this, but old habits prevail. My podiatrist advised me to keep my normal gait and made custom inserts for my shoes to compensate. In a short period, my calluses were flatter and less thick.
Back in the 1950s, we had a housekeeper who used to cut out the side of her work shoes to make “comfort holes.” As a nosy and always curious little boy, I took a knife and did the same to all my shoes, thinking it was cool. My mother was not pleased, and I was roundly spanked.
These calluses are redundant cuticles, building up over the years. Frequent pedicures and constant application of lotions can help keep the ridges down, but most people do not take the time. A pedicure is often considered a “treat” as opposed to a necessity.