Why is One Leg Shorter Than Another?

Have you ever tried on a pair of pants, only to see that one pant leg is longer than the other? Or noticed that you’re able to touch one foot on the ground from a high seat but not the other? Ever wondered if one of your legs could actually be shorter than the other?

These observations are typically an indication of some type of imbalance. Very few people have legs that are actually different lengths, however, it is not uncommon for people to notice slight physical imbalances. In fact, nearly 90% of people show characteristics of imbalances! Many patients first notice the issue while training for a run or standing for extended period of time at home or work, this is when a misaligned pelvis is sure to show up in the form of back tightness or even soreness.  Other patients will think they are going crazy because one pant leg is longer or standing with one hip shifted feels so much better. The cause of these problems usually isn’t due to actual differences in leg/limb length; rather, it’s due to an imbalanced or misaligned pelvis which can pull and spasm the irritated/painful side out of alignment.

So, what’s the deal with imbalances anyway? The answer isn’t always clear. There are a lot of things in our lives that could be attributing to a pelvic misalignment. For instance, poor posture and being overweight both impact our bodies in general, and the pelvis can easily become stressed under those conditions. Lifting incorrectly or having a weak core can also strain your back/pelvis and cause misalignment as your body tries to compensate. Other daily habits, like sitting with your wallet in the same back pocket, crossing your legs, or certain routine movements you perform at work every day could also be the source of a tilted pelvis. Outside of the instances that directly and immediately cause harm to the pelvis region, these recurring stressors could be to blame for pelvic misalignment (and could be perceived as having one leg that is shorter than the other). A true anatomical short leg or high hip/pelvis can be easily validated on a Lumbar X-ray and many of these lengths can be corrected with spinal adjustments. I have found that less than 8% of the patients truly have a short leg which if that is the case, a small lift (or Cookie.. I call it) can be placed in the shoes to balance the foundation.

Since imbalances are typically complex, and it is difficult to determine their cause, which Diagnostic X-rays can confirm and its important to visit the Chiropractor you realign your back and pelvis. For many people, misalignment can begin in one place and impact the body from head (high hip, curvature of the spine and “imbalanced” shoulders) to toe, resulting in the illusion that one leg is shorter than the other. That’s why seeking a professional opinion, like Dr. Joe, can be helpful when it comes to finding a solution to reduce the pain AND treat the actual cause of the issue.

So, what is the solution? Dr. Joe Sheppard can assess your hips, shoulders, back, neck and general posture to help you understand where the misalignment is occurring—and how your body is compensating for it. We often recommend trying different footwear, better postural habits, incorporating stretches, CORE exercises, and series of our Chiropractic adjustments to help restore your body to its natural foundational balance. Overall health is critical to prevent irreversible damage, and Sheppard Chiropractic can help you take the first steps—quite literally—to an improved, stronger version of yourself.

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