Thread: uneven legs
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:18 AM   #3
Steve Agocs
Member Steve Agocs is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Overland Park  KS
Posts: 98
Re: uneven legs

Collin, when a chiropractor measures leg length it is usually done with you lying on your stomach (prone) or sometimes on your back (supine) and we are comparing the relative "leg length" to one another. There is a LOT of information that can be had from this method, but one thing it is not is a measure of the actual leg lengths.

If this is what your chiropractor did he/she was finding a mix of information... could be anatomical leg length discrepancy (i.e. one bone is longer than another), could be a functional/structural imbalance (i.e. from pelvic torsion which is EXTREMELY common, or from muscle imbalances in the muscles of the legs or low back that connect to the pelvis, also common and goes hand in hand with the torsion mentioned, etc).

I teach chiropractic technique at the graduate course level and the post-graduate course level all over the country and one of the methods used in what I teach is assessment of relative leg length inequality, so trust me when I say that it is useful, but WILL NOT tell you if you have an anatomical leg length inequality because there are just too many variables using the method most chiropractors and other manual therapists use.

There are specialized x-rays that CAN tell you actual bone length, but unless it appears there is an extreme leg length inequality this is not worth the radiation.

Most people will present with something in the neighborhood of a 5mm relative inequality with the prone or supine method I told you about above, which again, tells the doctor a big mix of information. In my opinion based on reading all the research and being in practice for over 12 years, anything with a 1" relative inequality is "normal" as far as worrying about anatomical discrepancies. When a patient presents with more than this, which is rare, then it has me more concerned about anatomical issues and whether heel lifts and such are indicated.

DO NOT try to self-prescribe a heel-lift or buildup. Heel lifts and things to even out a leg length inequality are tricky business and you need to have more information, like x-rays of the pelvis and low back, to make the best judgment call whether a lift would help or make things worse. It's not as easy as mechanically shimming on foot relative to the other.

Without knowing anything about you, I would say that a functional leg length inequality is not likely to be the culprit for the lifting problems you are seeing, in and of itself.

WHY there is a leg length inequality COULD be the reason, though. For example, a VERY common source of functional leg length inequalities is an overpronated foot, which affects about 85% of the population to one extent or another. Overpronation causes a lot of ankle dorsiflexion issues and when you look at what happens to the kinetic chain, especially under loads, in an overpronated foot it would go a long way to explaining what you are noticing.

But, it could be a ton of other things, too.

My recommendation to you would be to find a chiropractor or PT who is certified in the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) and/or Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and uses these methods a lot and get a movement assessment done. I think this would bring to light where your issues are coming from.

Of course, this information is for INFO ONLY. I am not attempting to diagnose or offer any treatment of your problems nor is this post intended to be a replacement for a medical exam or treatment...
Steve Agocs, D.C., SFMA, FMT Instr., CrossFit Level 1
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