A common phrase I hear from clients is that they have previously been told they “have one leg that is longer than the other”. Naturally this may make us think that we have two legs of different lengths, which can be quite worrying. In a lot of cases though the legs are not actually different sizes, there are factors in the body which makes the appearance of ‘one leg longer’.
Leg length difference can cause a number of symptoms amongst clients I see: lower back pain, knee pain, hip/groin pain, shoulder pain are just a few examples.
In this article we are going to look into why many of us do appear to have ‘one leg longer’. We will look at what this means and what you can do about it.
True or functional leg length difference?
From my experience you can have one of two factors, a ‘true leg length’ difference or a ‘functional leg length difference’.
True leg length difference = When each leg are two different sizes in length
Functional leg length difference = When the legs are the same length but an imbalance in the body (pelvis rotation, spinal rotation etc) is causing an apparent leg length difference
The functional leg length difference mostly commonly what I see in my studio. According to the research only around 10% of leg length differences are down to a “true leg length” difference.
How do we know which is which?
Usually a true leg length difference can be identified and confirmed by x-rays. For a functional leg length difference there a variety of tests we can carry out. As there a number of factors that could cause a functional leg length difference, there are a number of tests. These would include test which would look at the alignment and functionality of the pelvis, spine and hip joint.
To begin with it can be difficult to identify if the leg length difference is true or functional, because a true leg length difference can affect alignment and functionality of the pelvis, spine and hip, however there a few tests and signs we can look out for which can point us in the right direction.
What to do?
To begin with we need to identify whether the leg length difference is true or functional.
True leg length: Depending on the age and case history of the client in true leg length differences items such as shoe lift can be effective.
Functional leg length: We need to identify potential reasons which could be causing the leg length difference. This can be done through a variety of tests and screens. From here we can use a variety of different techniques (Manual Therapy, corrective exercises, MET’s etc) to help address the imbalances. The type of technique used would be based on the results of the test carried out.
Worried you have one leg longer than the other? Free testing in October
As always you can always contact us for a free 15 minute chat and to discuss further. For the whole of October we are offering free Leg length, Pelvis & Spine screenings. Contact us for more information.
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About the author
I am a Manual Therapist covering a range of different disciplines including massage & Biomechanics. I also run small specialist Pilates classes around Corfe Mullen, Broadstone, Wareham, Wimborne & Poole. Instead of just purely rubbing the pain, I always look to see if I can find a potential cause (or causes of the pain) and then work on treating this.
Pilates Instructor & Therapist, helping you understand why we do what we do!