How to change walking style/gait to save on laundry bills?
March 6, 2014 3:09 AM   Subscribe

I 'kick up' a lot when I walk in damp conditions; when it's raining I have mud splashed up the back of my calf to my knee within five minutes. Others do not, so why? How do I stop it?

Maybe I'm just not looking carefully enough at other people's calves, but as far as I can tell I'm really bad for making a mess - it's so bad that I routinely don't wear paler colours on my legs when the ground is wet (and I'm in the UK, so that's, uh, most days!), and I have to walk between buildings for work and it's almost impossible to stay smart and clean.
Possible factors: I'm short, so it's not hard to splash up to my knee; I walk pretty fast, and I think I have quite a big stride for my height.
Unlikely factors: heel height and shoe/boot choice don't seem to make a difference.
Is it just me? Is there anything I can *do* about this?
posted by AFII to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I walk pretty fast, and I think I have quite a big stride for my height.

There's your problem, most likely. If your feet hit wet ground at a higher than average velocity then the water will splash higher, and if your stride is long then your leg is angled more towards the horizontal as your foot hits the ground, positioning your calf to catch more of the water. If there's no dry/clean ground to walk on, try walking slower. If you're rushing to get out of the rain, carry an umbrella.
posted by jon1270 at 3:31 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Brilliant; this seemed like a physics problem to me. It may be a struggle to fix my city-walker speediness, but definitely worth trying.
posted by AFII at 3:38 AM on March 6, 2014

I routinely don't wear paler colours on my legs when the ground is wet

That seems pretty normal to me. Maybe you don't notice it on others because they are wearing dark colors on wet days.
posted by amaire at 3:40 AM on March 6, 2014

One tactic would be to follow the example of people who walk in really splashy and muddy conditions and get some gaiters.
posted by rongorongo at 4:22 AM on March 6, 2014

It's not just you. This has been a problem for me for years. I never figured out how to stop it. I control it by wearing knee high boots or dark colored leggings or tights.
posted by kimdog at 4:40 AM on March 6, 2014

That seems pretty normal to me.

It doesn't seem normal to me, or at least it definitely doesn't happen to me.

Occasionally, during rain, I will get splashes on the backs my calves, but this has nothing to do with my feet. The splashes come from water dripping down from my shoulder bag, and they occur when my bag is made of leather or something. Is it possible that that's happening here?
posted by cincinnatus c at 4:53 AM on March 6, 2014

Response by poster: No, it's definitely kick up from my heels. I thought that it is cross-over - so left foot sprays right calf and vice versa, but I haven't figured that out yet. I may need to film myself walking!
posted by AFII at 4:59 AM on March 6, 2014

Artificial changes to gait are often the cause of chronic injuries. This would be a lot more easily addressed with something like gaiters or tall boots.
posted by telegraph at 5:19 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This constantly happens with me--water, mud, snow--you name it, I kick it up onto my calves and even into my boots. I'm a heel striker (the heel of my foot hits the ground first, THEN my toes) and a fast walker--could you perhaps be doing the same thing?

The only solutions I've come up with are to slow down and wear knee high rain boots on wet days. I've had zero success permanently altering my gait, but you could give that a try and see if you can get your entire foot to hit the ground at the same time.
posted by gumtree at 5:38 AM on March 6, 2014

Response by poster: I'm a heel striker too; I doubt I can (or should) change that to twinkle toes walking, but slowing down might be an option worth *trying* in damp weather.
(Gaiters and so on aren't going to cut it for me - I mean it rains here in midsummer, so accessorising a summery dress and bare legs with emergency gaiters is not the 'smart & put together' look I was hoping for!)
posted by AFII at 6:07 AM on March 6, 2014

This doesn't directly answer your question, but in the summer I've done bare legs with the sort of Crocs that mimic ballet flats - they do fine in the rain, and I can run them under the faucet and wipe down my legs with paper towels when I get where I'm going.
posted by chocotaco at 7:28 AM on March 6, 2014

It's not just you and it's NOT normal; as one with a terrible problem with this I've spent an inordinate amount of time scrutinizing the backs of others' legs and nobody else gets the amount of mud on them that I do. It's totally ridiculous. As for heel striking--well, that's just a normal gait, isn't it? Who walks toe first? I thought heel striking referred to people who really hit the ground hard with their heels. I've tried walking slower, walking differently, wearing different shoes, etc. and have never found the solution. For clues, I'm short, don't have a particularly long stride length, but do normally walk faster than most.
posted by HotToddy at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2014

I've got much the same problem, and for the same reasons. When I'm consciously attending to it, the most "splashage" seems to occur when I'm lifting the heel of my back foot preparatory to moving it forward. If I am careful to lift my heel slowly, and not "snap" it up, I splash much less.
posted by DrGail at 8:10 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Big strides aren't the only way to go quickly. For maximum speed I use a short stride and a fast foot turnover. It's fast and splash free!
posted by 26.2 at 8:56 AM on March 6, 2014

Here's a crazy idea: a few months ago I found fabric at the fabric store that was waterproof/similar to umbrellas. I made a waterproof skirt to slip over my clothes so that they'd be less drenched. Okay, so you're probably not going to go for a skirt and I have no idea if you or anyone you know sews, but maybe it might be worth it to have someone make you waterproof pants to put over your pants?

I will say that that kind of fabric is some of the worst I've ever sewn with, though--you could NOT make mistakes because the holes remain in the fabric when you take out the thread or pins. But oh well, that's probably not so much of a concern for you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2014

Like you and gumtree I am a short, fast-walking, heel-striking back-splasher. I sometimes have splash marks way above my knees on the back of my winter coat. On rainy days, I wear knee-high boots. In winter I just regularly wipe down the back of my coat. The only thing that's worked for me is walking more slowly and less bouncily, with less of a snap up from the back leg.
posted by looli at 8:06 PM on March 6, 2014

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