Do I Have One leg shorter than the other?

This is often discovered when someone looks down at their shoes and discovers that they have worn out one side more than the other.

This is often due to excess weight being put on one side and can pose the question, “Do I have one leg shorter than the other?”

There are many other reasons why someone may wear out their shoes. It’s important to get the correct diagnosis to determine the exact reason this happened. Other reasons include pronation of the foot, dropped arches or dysfunction in the knees.

Another reason someone may discover they have one leg shorter is where their trousers don’t sit evenly on the hips, and they’ve been told that they’re walking with a limp or swinging one leg round to the side.

You may discover this from your physiotherapist or Chiropractor telling you that you’ve got one leg shorter than the other because when you lie down, you see that one leg is definitively structurally short.

If you’re suffering with lower back pain that is going on for longer than three months. This can often be because of one leg being shorter.

What is a short leg?

Very often clients say to us, “doesn’t everybody have one leg shorter than the other? Isn’t that, right?” Not necessarily. There are two types of short leg. The first one and the most common one is a functional short leg. The second is a structural short leg.

A structural short leg is where the bones are structurally shorter than the other. For example, the femur is shorter, or the tibia and fibula are shorter, thus making a structural short leg. We will get on to how you can remedy this in the long run.

The second or the most common one you see is the functional short leg. This is often where the pelvis is rotated and will hitch the leg higher making it appear shorter. This can be diagnosed from an X-ray to see exactly the level of the short leg and which way the pelvis needs to be adjusted to remedy the situation.

You may have both and that the structural short leg has been exacerbated by some pelvic rotation, causing pressure up into the spine.

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Very often when lying flat on the tummy, you can see a short leg and when the person goes on to their back, the short leg dissapears. This is often indicative of a spinal issue. It can be remedied with an adjustment.

It then takes core stability work with activation to maintain that pelvic alignment for the weight to be evenly distributed through the hips, the lower back, the knees and the feet so that person can run, sit, walk comfortably and for the pelvic misalignment not to cause a functional short leg again.

If the short leg persists, it can often cause pain the hips, knees, hip arthritis, knee arthritis and can cause long term issues.

With a structural short leg, it will need an orthotic fitting with a wedge on one side to balance out the legs. A wedge should go up to one centimetre inside the shoe. Anything bigger than one centimetre, then you will require a podiatrist and a cobbler to manufacture a proper shoe to help with that discrepancy.

We do orthotic fittings here. You can find out more about that with Oli and Mike.

If you need more advice on orthotics to choose, please call us on 01932 355529 or email

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