In addition to the foot, the pelvis is another area of critical importance for all athletes, especially runners.
The pelvis is the foundation for the entire spine. It is suppose to be a very mobile yet stable area in the body.
To keep it simple, the pelvis moves with every step you take. This motion is complicated to explain, so for simplicity sake, we’ll just refer to it as a type of forward and backward rotation.
The short version, if the pelvis is not moving properly, the rest of the body is going to be dramatically effected.
Many knee issues in runner’s actually are a result of improper motion at the pelvis and the foot.
The dreaded iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), is largely a result of improper biomechanics at the pelvis. A lot of my patients who experience neck problems and/or headaches actually have a lot of improper biomechanics at the pelvis.
Main point, the pelvis is a major keystone in the body. Improper biomechanics left unaddressed will cause major havoc on the rest of the body.
The Break Down:
How many of you have seen a medical professional who has told you one of your legs is shorter than the other?
Nearly all of the patients I see inform me of this issue during their initial exam. And most of my patients truly believe one of their legs is shorter than the other. We need to clear the air about this topic.
Clearing the air
First of all, there are 2 types of leg length discrepancies: Anatomical and Functional.
Anatomical means the bones are truly shorter.
Functional means, as a result of compensation patterns in the body, the legs appear to be different lengths.
Why must they lie?
If you’ve been told you have a leg shorter than the other, odds are it is not really anatomically shorter than the other leg. What does that mean? Unless you have a history that dictates one leg is truly shorter (meaning the bones are not the same length), which could result from a fracture through the growth plate in your youth or a disease process that impacts bone growth, then the likelihood of your legs being different lengths anatomically is slim to none.
An anatomical short leg is incredibly rare, while a functional short leg is extremely common.
I see functional short legs in nearly all of my patients regularly. So, more than likely if you have been told you have a short leg, it’s a functional short leg as a result of compensation in the body. The good news about functional short legs, if you address the underlying compensation pattern, your legs will be even again.
What’s the big deal?
If you have one leg shorter than the other, you’re constantly on an uneven surface regardless of what the surface looks like. As runners we know running on a canted surface continually will put abnormal wear and tear on the body and cause it to break down. What I’m saying is that if you’re dealing with this issue, you’re continually running on an uneven surface because you yourself are uneven. Make sense?
One of the main reasons this leg length discrepancy occurs is a result of a pelvis that is off kilter. Your legs attach to your body via your pelvis. If this pelvis is off kilter, the positioning of your true hips (the ball and socket joint where your leg attaches to your pelvis) is shifted leading to one leg appearing shorter than the other. The goal: keep your pelvis on straight and keep it moving correctly.
In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be explaining how this all happens and just how to keep your pelvis on straight. Stay tuned and, in the meantime, let us know if you have any questions!