Everyday mysteries.
October 15, 2010 8:51 AM   Subscribe

When I walk in the rain, why does the calf of my right pant leg get much wetter than that of my left?

The right is drenched, the left is relatively dry. This happens when I use an umbrella. I've asked others to observe my gait and they have not reported any obvious dissimilarity between the movement of my right and left legs. To be clear, this only applies to the back of my pants. The front stays pretty dry.
posted by pollex to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you holding the umbrella on the front left side of your body?
posted by exogenous at 8:53 AM on October 15, 2010

Do you hold the umbrella in your right hand? The angle at which you hold it may assist the run off water in dripping on you.
posted by zizzle at 8:53 AM on October 15, 2010

what happens if you hold the umbrella in the opposite hand?
posted by ecsh at 8:54 AM on October 15, 2010

Are the loose ends of your shoelaces identical on both shoes? I get this happening when one lace is kind of long. It drags on the ground and gets soaked, then flips up and hits the back of my calf with each step. It's more noticeable in the winter when the water on the sidewalk is full of salt.
posted by FishBike at 8:57 AM on October 15, 2010

Hypothesis: It is your gait. Specifically, the toe and camber angles of your feet and ankles are not symmetrical, and are combining to help pick up water on the soles of your feet and splashing droplets onto your pant leg, like a bicycle tire throwing water up onto a cyclist's back. Moreover, holding an umbrella changes your gait ever so slightly to make this worse. You have had friends observe your gait, but you did not do this when holding an umbrella.

OK, what do I win?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Is your right leg shorter than your left?
posted by box at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Maybe one of your legs is a little thinner than the other. Are you an athlete with slightly imbalanced muscles from throwing by planting one leg (probably your front leg as you throw), or kicking off with one leg? Or did you ever have a major or minor lower-body injury causing a little atrophy on the injured leg and muscle mass gain on the uninjured leg?

It doesn't take much to unbalance those muscles- measure your thighs; you might be surprised. A broken ankle eight years ago could mean that even today one thigh is half-an-inch bigger than the other.

If your thighs and glutes aren't the exact same size, the thicker side can keep your pant leg upjuuuust a bit higher on that side, while the thinner leg's pant leg droops slightly and falls juuust a bit lower to drag in more puddles.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:22 AM on October 15, 2010

Where are the spines on the umbrella when you hold it in your normal position. Assuming that the umbrella handle constrains you to hold it in the same position each time, that's where the rain will run off.
posted by carter at 10:11 AM on October 15, 2010

Or, if the pants cuff on the right side is lower to the ground (for whatever reason - gait, leg/pant length, etc.) it may be closer to the ground and wicking water up.
posted by carter at 10:13 AM on October 15, 2010

I doubt that anyone short of a trained professional would notice a true difference in my gait, but I can tell from the wear on my shoes that I tend to bend my right (dominant) foot more at the ball of my foot and keep my left foot flatter as it just sort of... follows along. When I do stairs, I push with my right toes but more of my whole left foot. I think I lift my right foot a titch higher, too.

So shuffling through puddles on one side and being more nimble with the other is a pretty real possibility.
posted by Madamina at 10:51 AM on October 15, 2010

Do you keep more (or heavier) stuff in your right pants pocket than in your left? I bet that could cause the right side of your pants to hang lower than the left side, leading to the right cuff being closer to the ground and getting wetter.

Does this also happen when you're NOT using an umbrella? Like, when there are puddles on the ground but it isn't actively raining?
posted by pluckemin at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2010

Excellent, thought-provoking responses, all!

I believe my right leg is slightly longer than my right. I generally hold my umbrella in my right hand. This does not happen when the ground is wet but not raining.
posted by pollex at 1:03 PM on October 15, 2010

In which situations have you noticed this? If, say, it happens in the morning on your way to work when you can't afford to wait out a shower or take a sheltered detour, the direction of the wind might be surprisingly uniform, thus having it throw rain at your one leg and less at the other.
posted by Anything at 2:20 PM on October 15, 2010

I generally hold my umbrella in my right hand.

If you have the umbrella tilted to the left slightly, so its centred above you, then the right hand side will be slightly higher, hence rain gets through to your right calf at an angle. You just need a bigger brolley.
posted by Lanark at 2:57 AM on October 16, 2010

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