|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Hi Danny, Thanks for your question about the size of peoples' legs and feet. It occurs to me that you have displayed one of the characteristics of a scientist by asking this question. You have observed something that anyone can observe, and yet you have been able to notice something interesting. I have no doubt that you have classmates with one leg longer than the other, or one foot larger than the other. In fact, if you were able to find someone without these subtle 'imperfections' I would be quite amazed. How can it be possible that two seemingly identical body parts can be different? There could be many reasons on a biological basis. There could be medical reasons as well. Let's think about biological possibilities that you might relate to everyday life. Almost everyone favors one hand over the other, whether they are right-handed or left-handed. Let's take me for an example. I use my right hand a lot more than my left. The muscles on my right arm are therefore larger and stronger than the corresponding muscles on my left arm. These stronger muscles put an increased tension on the bones in my right arm (muscles insert into bones). The bone responds by trying to grow stronger to compensate for the added stress, and maybe ends up being thicker than the matching bone in my left arm. It also might end up being a little bit shorter. In the case of legs, people can also favor one leg over the other (which relates more directly to your question).
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