Why Is One Leg Longer Than the Other?

You’d be surprised to see how many people Google “why is one of my legs longer than the other?” The truth is that while yes, some people are born with a congenital limb difference or have some other structural issue going on, it’s more likely that one of your legs is longer than the other due to a functional issue. 

In this blog, MoveU goes over the leading cause of what makes one of your legs longer than the other as well as how you can fix that today.

What Causes Uneven Leg Length?

So, what the heck causes uneven leg length then? Two things: a structural issue, like you were born that way, or a functional issue, like you have misalignments that give your legs the appearance of being uneven.

Structural Versus Functional: Ways to Address the Discrepancy

Again, there are two leading causes of leg length discrepancies: structural issues and functional issues. While you cannot change a structural discrepancy, like having one leg longer than another, outside of surgery, you can adapt by learning to move and align your body in a way that accommodate these physical traits. You might need a lift in your shoe, or your body might easily be able to perform just fine. If you have a functional issue, you can improve your body through alignment training exercises to equalize the imbalance and improve function. 

Structural VS Functional Issues

Here are the main differences between structural and functional issues:

Structural Issue

This is where one of your legs is actually longer than the other. The longer leg will have a hip that sits higher.

Functional Issue

This is where both of your legs are the same length. The root cause of the leg discrepancy is the function of your body.  The most common misalignment that causes the appearance of a short hip, is the foot arch collapsing, the ankle rolling in, the knee buckling inward, and the thigh rotating inward. This misalignment lowers the hip as a result and then one leg appears longer than the other. Another common cause of uneven hips is functional scoliosis, meaning you have excess lateral curvature of the spine causing the hips to compensate.

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If you think one of your legs is longer than the other, and you weren’t born that way, you most likely fall under this category. If you think this issue is structural, a measurement can be taken from the greater trochanter to the lateral malleolus for an approximation, and a double leg x-ray is the only for sure way to know (but next to nobody ever takes these!

How to Fix Leg Discrepancies

Consider trying the Back & Core Program in the MoveU Membership, which offers alignment training and personalized support to help correct the misalignment pattern and level out the hips, improving posture, gait, and reducing pain or discomfort in the lower back, hips, and knees. This program is designed to address functional leg length discrepancy and other alignment issues, providing effective exercises and guidance to help you achieve your goals.

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FAQs About Leg Discrepancies

Is Having One Leg Longer a Cause of Sciatica? 

Having one leg longer than the other can aggravate sciatica but it’s not the sole cause of this condition. Sciatica is a type of nerve pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated. 

Leg discrepancy can lead to an imbalance in the spine which could contribute to nerve compression; however, it’s not why you have sciatica.

How Do You Know if You Have One Leg Longer Than the Other?

Some signs that one of your legs is longer than the other might include limping, uneven wear on the bottom of your shoes, back pain (including Quadratus Lumborum pain), hip pain, and a hip hike.

Can You Be Born with One Leg Longer Than the Other?

Yes, leg discrepancy can be present at birth. This is often due to a leg bone not being developed during pregnancy.

Can a Leg Discrepancy Cause Hip Pain?

Yes, uneven leg length can lead to imbalances which cause pain and discomfort in the hips and spine. Read more about fixing uneven hips on our blog, or head on over to the MoveU Membership to learn how to properly fix your hips for good.

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What Muscles Should I Learn to Strengthen, Stretch, and Align if One of my Legs is Longer than the Other?

I would advise against focusing on individual muscles, or even muscle groups, and instead focus on proper body alignment and technique as you live your life, and as you exercise. For example, if your right hip is lower than your left it will benefit you to focus on your right foot arch, ankle alignment, knee tracking, and right hip rotation which will elevate the right hip to become more level than the left (so long as your issue is functional).

Can Leg Length Discrepancy Be Fixed?

You bet! If you have a functional issue, you can definitely learn proper alignment and posture techniques to help you fix your leg length discrepancy.

Head on over to the MoveU Membership today to fix your misalignments and say bye to pain!

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