Many of us have been told by our doctor, chiropractor, or therapist that we have a short leg or leg length discrepancy (LLD). Or maybe you have noticed that your shoes wear unevenly or that your pant legs feel different.
Many people have a leg length discrepancy, which can cause back, neck, knee and hip pain as well as other problems throughout the rest of the body. The good news is that 90 to 97% of LLD’s are "apparent" or "functional" due to misalignments in the hips and pelvis and/or muscle imbalances (most frequently in the psoas, the strongest hip flexor). Manual therapy, including myofascial release (MFR), can be very beneficial for treating the muscle imbalances that produce this sort of leg length discrepancy.
Take a look at the image below (the figure on the left) and see how a slight LLD can affect the alignment of the whole body compared to the figure on the right.
It's important to be balanced. As little as an eighth of an inch leg length discrepancy can create traumatic effects on the soft tissue of our bodies. Imagine the amount of micro-trauma with so many foot strikes when walking/running, or pedals when cycling. These micro-traumas add up over time and will eventually lead to greater misalignment ultimately leading to pain and dysfunction.
Manual therapy, including myofascial release (MFR) is one key component in the treatment of structural misalignment and leg length discrepancies. MFR provides a gentle, but prolonged stretch of the fascial tissue which helps relax the muscles, and surrounding structures. In addition to manual therapy, it is important learn how to self-treat to improve your pelvice balance, reducing the effects of a functional leg length discrepancy. Self-care to balance the pelvis, along with treatment from a trained therapist, can lead you down the road to the prevention of recurring symptoms.
If you feel out of balance, or find that you experience strain or pain patterns mostly on one side of your body, ask your therapist or health care provider about a possible leg length discrepancy. If you have a 'short leg', manual therapy and self-care can go a long way to alleviating symptoms and restoring balance.