Short Right Leg

Posted 12/16/13 by Malcolm Hiort and filed under:

Short-leg syndrome

There is confusion amongst many therapists between Functional short leg syndrome, which is correctable with stretching and therapy, and a possible underlying structural issue, Anatomic Short Leg

Both syndromes often lead to postural compensation higher up in the body. Over time, decades with some clients, this process gets camouflaged and embedded
Care must be taken during the therapeutic de-compensation process to balance the issues of symptoms (aggravation can occur) with symmetry and mobility

Anatomic Short Leg

This is a controversial topic. Many studies investigating leg length exist, the key implication being a 300% difference between ‘health population’ subjects; and ‘normal subjects’

Between 20% and 25% of ‘normal subjects’ have an anatomic leg length discrepancy
Between 65% and 75% of ‘health population’ subjects have one leg anatomically shorter

As our clients constitute this health population, the implication is that at least two-thirds of our clients will have an anatomic short leg

If one leg is actually shorter, typically by 4-10mm, no amount of stretching, massage, manipulation, postural and gait awareness or strengthening will make it grow in an adult
Why this fact, and its implications for health and therapy, is not better known is bizarre. The teaching of ‘abnormal’ (imperfect, un-idealised) anatomy is complex, and therapy texts have not successfully bridged the gap between theory (normative anatomy) and practice (the variations we see with clients daily)

Short Right Leg

A startling and significant clinical finding, first observed and understood by this author in 1989, is that almost every case involves only the right leg being short
Anatomic short left leg has been noted in some subjects but is rarely observed. This peculiarity is unsupported by currently available information and is the subject on ongoing research

While not all clients will benefit from a corrective heel lift (or orthotics of different heights), some cases result in permanent significant improvement where the adverse effects of this syndrome are neutralised. Relevant client statements will be added to our Testimonials post over time

Gordon Zink’s ‘Common Compensatory Effect’ describes postural compensation as a rotating tendency linked to the coriolis effect, the fact that the earth spins and creates rotational forces
Another factor, gestational posture, was considered as a cause of congenital (but not genetic) postural and tissue-tension distortion

Babies, children and adults have bodies that in real life are unlike the symmetrical, proportioned figures in anatomy or therapy texts

This therapy observation is supported by other descriptions of the human body, such as is found in figurative art and sculpture. Michalangelo’s famous sculpture David displays the classic contraposto stance of many people with short leg syndrome

Heel lift therapy

Scoliosis Capitus and Short Right Leg

A variable consequence of postural compensation, further up the body, is cranial asymmetry, called Scoliosis Capitus by Viola Frymann
The observation of this author is that most cases of Scoliosis Capitus involve the sphenoid bone displaying a displacement to the right, the same side as the short leg in most cases

A separate Scoliosis Capitus post is being developed

There are implications for anatomy research, physical education and preventative public health