T Nation

Short Leg Syndrome


#1


Anyone have any experience with this? Here's what I have going on right now:

First noticed shoulder pain in left shoulder. Have never, for as long as I can remember, been able to perform any exercise for the rear delt on that side and have it feel right.

Left shoulder pain intensified as time went on.

Several years ago I noticed a deep groin pain on my right leg. I just kept doing deep squats because I was really young and figured pain = weakness. I just figured the wrong treatment.

Left shoulder pain continued to worsen until I had to stop training. My biggest problem was what appeared to be impingement of the supraspinatus. I of course went to several PT places and a chiropractor. X-rays showed a slight pelvic tilt downward to the right leg, and a slight scoliosis of the spine to compensate, with my left shoulder hanging down and right one up. Weird, when I looked in the mirror it appeared as though my left shoulder was hiked up.

Soon, after continued leg training, pain in right groin intensified. After any leg day, the left quadriceps NEVER seemed to be sore. My calves also grew in different ways, with my right calf being significantly more developed in some areas than the left. Even my ab development seemed asymmetrical (yes, I know there's such a thing as asymmetrical abs) - the left side abs seemed to develop very nicely, but the right side abs didn't ever gain any size. My guess now is that they were inhibited by faulty pelvic movements. Even so, I continued to push on, bull-headed and having no idea what was in store for me.

Now, I can't even run without hurting. Running feels like dragging a semi - it just doesn't feel right. I feel like my walking is really weird. My left knee has begun to ache all the time, with little relief. I've managed to reduce shoulder pain but I've lost significant weight not being able to train for the last 6-8 months. The only shoulder issue i have, as long as I don't do any exercise with it, is an exceptionally tight teres major/lat on the left side. It's so exceptionally tight that I have to stretch it thoroughly a dozen or so times per day to keep it from tightening up to the point of pain.

Here's a picture I found:

Of course, I just now found it.

So, does anyone have any advice or experience? Obviously, I've been stretching the right groin like a mad man, but if it's working at all, it's working very slowly. I bought a heating pad to keep heat on it for stretching, because I read that muscles don't take the stretching and/or keep it if it's cold. The knee pain seems to be getting worse. The good news is my shoulder pain seems to have lessened significantly, but I'm not sure if that's just due to staying off of it for such a long time or what. I tried folding up a sock and putting it in my right shoe for a while. While it seems to have lessened a lot of the pain, it made my lower back feel tighter and hurt more, and it didn't seem to do much for the left knee. I'm going to see the chiropractor tomorrow, with a focus on adjusting hips and trying to straighten the spine, but I don't have a lot of money right now and I'm worried that it will take too much. I'm hoping that this, combined with a focus on re-balancing the right hip, will get things back to normal.

In the meantime, I've lost at least 20 pounds of muscle and all kinds of strength, and I'm feeling really down about it. It's mentally and physically debilitating and I'm looking for a little friendly support, or advice from anybody who's been down this road. If there are any chiropractors or PT guys out there reading this, any of your thoughts/input would be greatly appreciated. My shirts don't fit right and I can't even run to keep off the fat :frowning: It's getting really difficult to remain positive and disciplined in mind. Thanks for checking out my posting.


#2

I'm in the same boat with you, guy.

Seeing a chiropractor 2-3 times per week, a massage therapist once per week, as well as getting orthotics made to compensate for the difference in leg length.

Other than that it's T-Nation search and Google to find shoulder, lower back, and hamstring/groin rehab programs to fix-up the damage.

Good luck,

ElbowStrike


#3

Has it been diagnosed as an anatomical or functional short leg? The treatment plan will vary depending on the cause of one leg being shorter than another.


#4

Functional. And the scoliosis is also functional, of course. I've been trying to figure out what the problem is by elimination but it's not working so far. I've loosened up the right hip flexors considerably. Found out I had huge trigger points and adhesions in the iliacus part of the iliopsoas complex. Soft tissue work and stretching has eased the pain in the leg to almost nothing in a few days' time, but doesn't seem to have done anything for the scoliosis.

Also, the short leg seems to have fixed itself. I stood on two scales and saw how much weight was on each leg and it was the same. Of course, I guess there could be compensations still.


#5

Dude im in almost the same exact boat as you. My right hip is raised so i felt awkward walking around, and ur right its mentally and physically rough. Ive been trying to correct it since i was 17 and i am 20 now. nothing really has changed. I went thru five chiropractors and most of them were quacks that just jacked a shit ton of money. The one chiropractor that i felt was most legit i stuck with for a year of continuous adjustments. It turned out that the adjustments were mostly placebo affect and all it really did was make my muscles temporarily more relaxed. I figured this out after having one year before and after xrays takin, nothing changed. He tried to claim that there was a difference in pelvic alignment in the pics and a decrease in my mild scoliosis, but they looked the exact same.

My correction routine has just been to work on alignment during squats and deadlifts and all my shoulder and back lifts, and a shit ton of stretching. What i have gotten out of all this alignment training is that im as flexible as an olympic female gymnast, as buff as bruce lee (not huge). but out of alignment like a mofo.

Also i wear a heelift at all times to keeps things looking more straigt, and hoping to force a pelvic and spinal relignment in the long run, but it hasnt yet changed yet. I ordered custom made foot inserts from footlevelers so hopefully that will help some.


#6

@ the OP - I really think your biomechanical issues are too involved to try to handle on your own. With everything that you've got going on you really need to get an in-person assessment from a specialist. I'd suggest getting an appointment with a physical therapist that does functional movement screens. If finances are an issue, he should be able to give you corrective exercises that you can do independently.


#7

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#8

man, this is me in the picture...what to do? i've got serious issues with my right shoulder and knee, hips hurt and pops and my spine is off center....you can plainly see that this is me here http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_training_performance_bodybuilding_trt/weird_hormonal_panel_results


#9

Hello- this sounds very similar to me: left shoulder, right groin. Right pelvis sits lower. Looks from the front that left shoulder is higher but from the back like right shoulder is higher.

First off, I want to say that I have been to 3 chiropractors, 1 massage therapist, 1 podiatrist, 1 pedoratrist, and 7 physiotherapists- don't expect anyone to know what you are talking about. They need to really take a very close look and see you with minimal clothing on. My last chiropractor finally saw what I saw- that was after about 6 visists. I do still hope that if I keep going to new professionals, I will finally stumble upon someone who knows exactly what this is because they will be experiencing or will have experienced it themselves.

I have spent the last year on this. For me it started with my feet. I strongly second the suggestion of getting orthotics- not so much for the correction but as biofeedback to let you know when and when you are not centered on your feet (if it feels like you are pronating more on one foot then you know you are "off")

So after my "journey" which is only part way through, I would suggest having a really close look at your pelvis and shoulder girdle. Are they rotated? Check out information on "malalignment"

and please, I would really like you to keep posting on this- it feels very reassuring to find other people with the same problem- maybe we could compare notes.

Thanx!


#10

I see people with Limb length discrepancies on a weekly basis. Best thing is orthoses that work you up gradually to where you no longer compensate. Worst thing is orthoses that even things out immediately (largely because people dont adjust to them and they quit using the orthoses). Most podiatrists that do a lot of orthoses should be able to assess this condition.


#11

Hey all,

I know this is an old post, but here goes.

I have a lot of the same symptoms! My right leg is functionally shorter and that side of the pelvis feels rotated. I even have a hard time sitting straight for more than a few minutes. I also have:

(1) a slumped left shoulder (a lot of tightness in the triceps and lats area)
(2) pain in my left knee (the longer leg)
(3) weakness in the right groin
(4) lower back pain
(5) neck pain on my right side
(6) even jaw pain! a soreness on my right jaw
(7) slight scoliosis bending towards the right

I'm rather sure this all resulted from a groin injury I got while training for a side-split. (Like this: http://idaimakaya.com/images/splits%20pic.jpg). After that, everything started tightening up and going awry.

I've seen a chiropractor who was doing A.R.T., 2 other chiropractors, a massage therapist, and a physical therapist.

I've had moderate improvement, but never have completely found balance again. Massage and A.R.T. have helped some of the strength return, but overall the conditions have slowly worsened over time. I have had orthodics for a long time (very flat feet), and recently I've been wearing a heel lift on the short side (about 9mm). The left has helped with balance and to active some of my muscles more on that side, but my right side feels generally weaker.

I no longer run or do high impact activity. I mostly warm up with elliptical machines and I try to start swimming more. I've also modified a lot of my strength training

My journey is also ongoing. I'd love to hear anybody having success with this. My problem seemed to originate in some deep groin injury healing improperly over time. Are other people's experience the same?

Thanks!

Strength,
Michael


#12

@mpaone

i had similar problems with a functional short leg

maybe you can try this - it helped me a great deal

http://www.mortonsfoot.com/posturecontrolinsoles.html

you can do it like me and make a cheap test or even build these for yourself

I cut out some piece of cork flooring 4mm thick and put it under my first metatarsal - worked like a charm.

Its funny how all those years of mobility, stretching, foam rolling, pt and so on brought almost nothing in terms of results and a few mm in your shoes make such a big difference


#13

This really intrigues me. My advice would have been to get good orthotics, with the thought that the decreased arch (hypothetically worse on one side) is the underlying cause of the "short" leg.

It's common for that to cause a cascade of events where the knee turns in (valgus), L5 rotates to that side (because the vertebral body is thicker in the front), the spine curves, and the thoracic spine compensates. However, several posters have said they went that route and didn't improve, so I hesitate to chime in.

On a tangent: BBB, you mentioned differentiating between functional and structural short leg. One of my instructors in college had a method for determining the difference. He prescribed measuring the legs from anatomical landmarks first (ASIS to medial malleolus), then measuring from umbilicus to medial malleolus. I was always skeptical, but tucked it away in the tool box anyway. Any thoughts?


#14

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#15

I just wanted to update folks on this.

I've been practicing Hanna Somatics movements and exercises and realized that I just had a series of deep muscular imbalances that were throwing me off. I've been able to correct most of them and have had great results! I highly recommend you check out the work of Thomas Hanna either through his books or through a Hanna Somatics practitioner in your area. Also, I recommend the programs of Lawrence Gold if you want to do it at home or just explore it on your own.

Good luck!

Michael