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Walking barefoot makes skin on the soles very hard. Indigenous tribes that have no boots are walking barefoot even on the sharp rocks.

But after my leg was slightly slit by the seaweed, I wonder if it is possible to do the same with the skin on the other parts of the body. If so, how to achieve it? Generating so much friction as to soles when walking would be very problematic.

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People spend 1000s of $ to get smooth skin. Why would someone be wanting to reverse it? Hardening would actually damage it. –  WedaPashi Jul 15 '13 at 8:38
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Smooth skin is wanted to be had by city rats, outdoorsmen like to have skin harder to penetrate ;) –  Donaudampfschifffreizeitfahrt Jul 15 '13 at 19:35
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you need to be careful with this. Instead of building callouses, you may get an abrasion and wind up building scar tissue (which is weaker than regular skin). In rock climbing, there's a technique called "hand jamming", where you use your hands as wedges to climb a crack system. I have met old climbers out West with crazy callouses on the back of their hands. But whenever I try and climb hard hand-cracks without athletic tape, I just scrape myself. As a weekend warrior, I don't think I could duplicate the lifetime of climbing it would take to slowly build those calluses. –  DavidR Jul 15 '13 at 19:48
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purely within climbing, I found it better to just tape my hands up, and spend my time working on technique, rather than spending the hours a week working on my skin. My $0.02. –  DavidR Jul 15 '13 at 19:50
    
@DavidR: Exactly. I would rather focus on choosing (often making) my trekking garments in such a manner that I will need not to bother whether my skin is hard enough to sustain the rashes. In India, where you usually hit the trail with 6-7 ft long thorny grasslands, I do need to count on my skin, but I minimize my bothering by choosing a full-sleeve hiking shirt. And, when I go climbing, Everybody knows of what to wear when you climbing! The point is, take an easier alternative, rather than trying something which is uncertain to work out. Wish you good luck should you choose try your things! –  WedaPashi Jul 16 '13 at 5:25

2 Answers 2

Not really, no. What strengthens skin is damaging it, either by rubbing or by cutting/scuffing, so you end up with either thicker/rougher tissue or even scar tissue.

I would imagine running through long sharp grass every day could do this quite well but it would not be fun.

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And what about simple pressure? Or whipping? I've heard it's popular in Finnish sauna... –  Donaudampfschifffreizeitfahrt Jul 15 '13 at 19:34
    
Yep, both those options count :-) –  Rory Alsop Jul 15 '13 at 19:35
    
They whip in finnish saunas solely for a healthy circulation. –  Jeredepp Aug 3 '13 at 12:37
    
Jeredepp -you will want much harder whipping than that! –  Rory Alsop Aug 3 '13 at 17:38

Scar Tissue

You would need to strike a balance between doing enough damage to build callouses, and not doing so much damage that you cut yourself (and build scar tissue). Scar tissue is weaker than regular skin, and can take weeks to a couple months to fully heal, and get strong again.

My somewhat related experiences

In rock climbing, there's a technique called "hand jamming", where you use your hands as wedges to climb a crack system. I have met old climbers out West (Wyoming and California) with crazy thick callouses on the back of their hands. So, I'd say, yes, it apparently is possible to callous up skin on different parts of your body (in this case, the backs of your hands).

Whenever I try and climb hard hand-cracks without athletic tape, I just scrape myself up, and get scars on my hands that take a while to fully go away. As a weekend warrior, I don't think I could duplicate the lifetime of climbing it would take to slowly build those calluses. I could probably devise a skin-training regiment I could do daily, or every other day, to toughen my skin up. But assuming my goal is to be a better climber, I have better luck just taping up, and working on my technique. (honestly, I think that's a better application of my limited training time).

My $0.02

Edit:

I should say, one of the climbers I met was an old guide, who had thicker calluses on the backs of his hands than most people have on their feet. He also had long, grey dreadlocks. It looked weird, but kinda cool.

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