Have you ever been told that you have a short leg?
In the health and Chiropractic profession I see a lot of therapist tell their patients that they have some sort of condition, dysfunction and in this case, a short leg. The troubling part is not the short leg but rather that the therapist is likely not telling you the truth or they actually don’t understand the mechanics of your problem.
Why is a short leg important?
Any short leg can cause a lack of symmetry in the body. That lack of symmetry can produce biomechanics changes that cause one side to be used more often and create wear and tear. We see this in the lower back a lot when people are suffering lower back pain, SI joint pain, and/or hip pain.
So whats the deal?
You most likely do not have a short leg! Yes, DO NOT! In order to evaluate a true short leg you need to take an x-ray of the leg, thigh, and pelvis. You would also need to take an x-ray of the opposite side so that you can compare them and measure them. First of all, this is no standard and common practice to take that many x-rays for such a dysfunction. Some Chiropractors still take Full body x-rays which will allow you to see the whole body in one picture. This is very outdated and the profession, medicine has moved away from this. Finally, this subjects you to x-ray beams (ionizing radiation) that would be excessive for that individual.
When could you have a short leg?
Most true short legs occur naturally by birth. Sometimes people may have a short leg if they had surgery and hardware placed in them that can cause a length discrepancy.
So I don’t have a short leg, whats happening?
Most of the time people are actually having a “functional short leg.” This is really where you can change the function of the body and mechanics of the body that make it appear that you actually have a short leg. For example, a lot of people have a spasm or tightness into the lower back (specifically the QL muscle) and that muscle attaches to the hip. If it goes into spasm it will elevate the pelvis and make it appear as if you have a short leg.
Most short legs are not real short legs and they are due to muscle imbalances, and a lack of symmetry in the mechanics of the body. Releasing the tight muscles, strengthening the weak ones and creating balance in the body is critical for better mechanics, reduced wear and tear, and optimal performance.