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blue_wu

left vs right imbalances - leg length difference

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ABSS has massively helped me explore and confirm some observations. I have two main questions relating to my leg length difference. I have a shorter right leg, after years with various issues/various professionals, i believe this is a genuine leg length difference plus my bodys adopted compensations on top. Currently about a 12mm difference. Many of the ABSS stretches to me felt uneven left vs right.

 

1. Is it OK for me to focus primarily on stretching the respective tight side and more or less ignore the OK/less tight side? I gather we should check each side for daily variation, but after a couple of years exploring hip/back pain, i’m confident of my main imbalances. I heard kit describing pain as not necessarily relating to a lack of flexibility, but an imbalance of flexibility.

 

2. Should i be doing more than this to address the hip/back pain? How does one actually go about equipping their body to deal with a 12mm leg length discrepancy? How do i know if this is even possible for me? Even if i manage to even out the left vs right flexibility, how do i stop my body carrying out activities in its habituated imbalanced ways? I started wearing a right shoe raise 4 months ago, I resisted at first and actually wore minimalist shoes for a while a year ago, but i think my body wasn’t ready for it and jacked everything up even tighter to protect. I feel it could be a long road before my body is ready for minimalist footwear and/or letting go of the pain, and i have no idea how to get there. Hence question 1 above - is it worth taking it slow on this long road head, and just focussing on evening out the tight side for now?

 

A message of thanks: I’m tired of professionals swinging between denying that LLDs can exist and prescribing nothing but raises - neither appeas to have been helpful to me so far. I’m defeated and recognising that its only mine and no one elses to handle. I’m relieved to find a space where LLD is discussed constructively and with hope, and grateful for the relaxation audios which i can no longer deny being in need of. I’ve searched the ST forum and read extremely helpful posts on LLD - any further advice would be enormously appreciated.

 

Bonus question 3: WTF to do about raises? Since wearing the raise, my right ankle is jammed up, stiff/achy, sometimes releases a little when i ‘pop’ it by flexing the foot. The whole shoe is raised, not just the heel (orthotist slices the sole lengthways, glues in a raise in the middle), which i thought would be better for posture than just a heel raise tilting me forward, but it means the shoe doesn’t flex properly. The timeline suggests the raise is somehow causing ankle to jam up. Or it could be an impingement thing as this right ankle hasnt flexed as well as the left for years. The right calf is tighter which obviously contributes to poor flexion, but it feels more than that.

 

Could switching between minimalist and 12mm raise confuse the body and worsen the problem? I run in minimalist shoes once a month (5k max) because: i enjoy the sensation underfoot and that it likely helps keep my feet strong; it helps me remember to run light rather than heavy heel strike; and it took a few months to strengthen my achilles/calves to cope with barefoot running in the first place over a year ago and i basically never want to lose this.

 

Additional info:

*Pain - in the left lower back and bum/hip/back area generally, sometimes in the bum/?piriformis, specific pain points in the lumbar/tailbone/SIJ.

*Tight/weak bits that i feel easily - very tight left QL, weak and incredibly tight left glute/piriformis.

*Other tight/weak bits: right calf and hamstrings tighter than left. right hip pinching/blocking in flexion, weaker right quad, both adductors both weak and tight, poor hip external rotation especially the right.

*Side bends - fine to the right, to the left i can’t lean far, everything just jams up around the hip/just above the pelvis, even with a raise.

*Feet - think arches and pronation is OK, but havent honestly assessed them myself.

 

Sincere apologies for lack of brevity and if i posted this in the wrong place! I am genuine absolute beginner!

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Hi Blue,

Welcome to the forums! Pinging @Kit_L just in case he missed this since he has first-hand experience with a LLD.

On 12/23/2018 at 5:57 AM, blue_wu said:

1. Is it OK for me to focus primarily on stretching the respective tight side and more or less ignore the OK/less tight side?

Please do not ignore one side. The general prescription in Stretch Therapy is to stretch the tight side first, followed by the other side, and then return to the tight side one more time. The tight side will be getting twice the attention, and it will gravitate toward balance over time. There is not need to ignore anything, and ignoring one side will surely not benefit you.

On 12/23/2018 at 5:57 AM, blue_wu said:

how do i stop my body carrying out activities in its habituated imbalanced ways?

Pay attention. Awareness is the key to breaking free of habit.

I will let Kit (or someone else more qualified than I) address your other questions.

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On 12/23/2018 at 7:57 AM, blue_wu said:

How does one actually go about equipping their body to deal with a 12mm leg length discrepancy?

That's a whole book, but some dot points:

You body can deal with a much greater discrepancy than that; mine is about 18mm; a dear friend had 20+ (and with zero back pain, but he is an anthropologist who practically lived in the deep squat position while working in the field, so zero problems). I had massive low back pain in the past. No longer; more below.

As Nathan suggested, we are trying to soften the whole body as well as strengthen it, so what he suggests (and I recommend in Overcome neck & back pain) is starting with the tighter side, exploring the looser side, then going back to the tight side; many reasons.

I never use any lift these days, though I did use a heel-only lift in the beginning. I was a serious middle-distance runner, though. I do not recommend full-length inserts. Nowadays, as I go barefoot everywhere (or Five Fingers) I notice that my gait has changed completely: my L knee never straightens fully (it's the longer leg); as Nathan said, awareness is key. I am jogging again too. The mantra? How can I relax more? How can I move more quietly? If you have been wearing conventional shoes, you will be a heel striker; barefoot, no one can be—it hurts too much. Every barefoot walker–runner lands softly on the whole foot, and on a bent knee.

It is essential to loosen that tight ankle—more important than you think. alternating between insert and bare is zero problem (except in the thinker's mind). The body simply adapts to what's happening. Relax more.

Welcome to the forums, too!

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Thank you Kit, that gives me great hope.

Why do you condone heel lift but not a full length insert? I thought for myself heel-only raise would be bad re one sided tghter calves/tilted pelvis/one sided imbalances up the chain, compared to a raised whole foot. Of course this was just a hunch!

Any advice on loosening the tight ankle? (why is this so key?). I think its an impingement limit, I can't seem to stretch/flex much at all.

I hold tension at work all day (seated) and as a first step i'm grateful for ST pointing this out to me! Its stupid and frustrating. But it means the questions you pose (how can i relax more) are obviously going to be important - thank you.

I guess I just need to keep working at this, unravelling it one piece at a time.

 

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On 1/7/2019 at 2:01 AM, blue_wu said:

Why do you condone heel lift but not a full length insert?

Most people can tolerate a moderate height difference between heel and ball of foot, but full-length inserts have the problems you described in your OP.

On 1/7/2019 at 2:01 AM, blue_wu said:

Any advice on loosening the tight ankle? (why is this so key?).

Much written about that here; use the search function to find the relevant posts.

On 1/7/2019 at 2:01 AM, blue_wu said:

how can i relax more)

Use the recommended, and free, relaxation scripts, every day. And unravelling "one piece at a time" is the best way by far, and likely to have permanent effects.

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