One Leg Shorter Than the Other? Now What?

According to podiatrytoday.com, it is common for children and adults to experience one leg shorter than the other. For many, this can create an imbalance that can increase muscle tension and contribute to osteoarthritis in the long term. In extreme cases, an individual may walk with a limp or uneven gait. According to the Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association, “Leg length discrepancy (LLD) is a common condition that results in uneven and excessive loading of not only knee joints but also hip joints and lumbar motion segments.” The body will attempt to compensate for leg length differences, creating strain on the spine, back, and muscles.

Do you have one leg shorter than the other? Find a friend or family member to help you quickly determine this for yourself (do not try this if you have health issues that could be aggravated). Wearing flat bottom, well-fitting shoes (preferably tennis shoes laced up), sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Pull yourself back and lay back on the floor. You should be lying with your back against the floor, and your legs straight. Let your feet naturally fall to the sides; do not move your legs. Have the other person gently lift your feet back to center, as if your feet were standing on a flat surface. Then have the person view the bottom of your feet next to one another. It would not be a surprise to find that the soles of your shoes do not match up - one will likely be “pulling up”/shorter than the other. You can do this several times to look for consistent results. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure, it can be a tricky test and takes practice!

If you suspect you have a leg length discrepancy and you experience back, shoulder, knee or hip strain, what can you do? A common solution is to use shoe inserts or shoe lifts to raise one side back up in alignment with the other. This solution assumes the leg length discrepancy is due to bones of different lengths - which may not be the case at all. As it turns out, leg length discrepancy can be caused by spinal misalignment and can be resolved with a chiropractic adjustment. After an adjustment, leg length discrepancies are often resolved. In fact, the resolution of leg length discrepancy is commonly used as a test to validate the effectiveness of a chiropractic adjustment.

Keeping your spine in alignment can alleviate unnecessary strain on your back and joints, and leg length discrepancy can help diagnose a spinal misalignment. Correcting the underlying problem, rather than creating artificial compensation, is the best approach for long term health and wellness.