Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Caught short

I have often wondered if my continual niggles in the left leg have any structural or gait basis, but never got around to doing anything about it.

With the fact that I am going for a sports massage tonight in mind, I did something simple this morning that I have meant to do for ages, check whether my legs are the same length. After the shower, clad only in my best pair of Bonds briefs (an image I could have spared you all, but ha!), I sat with my butt against the wall, legs stretched out straight, and got my wife to come and give the old pegs the once over.

"Your left leg is about a centimeter shorter than your right leg," she immediately blurted out with a kind of sadistic smirk. Sure enough, I could even see it myself. My left ankle bone touched against my right leg quite conspicuously above the right ankle bone. Damn! Fourty-four years it has taken for me to notice this.

Now the million dollar question is whether this is a) the cause, b) a result of, or c) not even related to my back and other left side problems. And finally, what kind of practitioner do you see about getting a definitive analysis and remedial measures? I have heard that short-legged bastards can get a heel lift shoe insert. I wonder if one centimeter is enough to justify such an intervention?


Tuggeranong Don said...

Interesting problem Stephen. I had an assessment done by a sports medico some years back and he revealed that my left leg is shorter than my right. He believed this to be the likely cause of the running injuries I was then suffering on the left side (ITB, hip bursitis). He got me to wear a thin insert in my left shoe and the injuries did subside over time.

I have to be honest and say, though, that I was not convinced the insert fixed the problems. It may have, it may not have. I don't use an insert now and the subsequent injuries I have suffered spread themselves equally across both sides of the body.

I am always reluctant to give advice, but in this case if I was in your shoes I would be getting an assessment done. I would think a 1 cm difference would be enough to cause problems.

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I loved your pidgeon story, which would be a hard one to beat.

Scott said...

Sorry Steve can't help you as both my legs are short but the same size, I think. I haven't heard of it being a problem or not but I'll be sure to let you know if I hear anything.

If it's any consolation my middle leg is a touch shorter than the others ;)

Ewen said...

You just want the girls to read that, don't you Scott?

I remember Bill Rodgers had one short leg - about a centimetre. He didn't use an insert, but rather had the midsole of his shoes built up (easy if you're sponsored by a shoe company). There was a photo in one of my ancient running magazines.

Definitely worth looking at, but maybe add lift in a few steps or it would feel pretty strange.

Tesso said...

Steve, I have the same LLD problem though unlike you I was always aware of it. I ran for almost 20 years without a problem but after an achilles injury (longer leg) saw a pod who custom built my orthotics, with one a bit higher than the other.

I had them replaced by him early in the year. I went back a couple of months later for a check up and mentioned my hammy/glute problem (also in the longer leg). He quickly cut out an extra insert for my shorter leg to raise it up just that little bit more.

Definitely worth seeing someone I reckon.

PS I just went back to reread your post to make sure I didn't miss anything ... dumb move.

Pete said...

It's a little tricky but if you wedge your Bond briefs up disproportionately on the right side you'll correct for a centimeter of left leg shortness. Make sure they (the briefs) are well and truly jammed up there and I promise that you won't notice the left leg shortness during your run. This technique is known as "the poor man's heel lift".