Thursday, April 12, 2012

Short Leg Syndrome

Short Leg Syndrome a.k.a Limb Length Discrepancy a.k.a. Unequal Leg Length a.k.a. Leg Length Inequality (LLI) a.k.a. Leg Length Alignment Asymmetry (LIAA). These are actual medical terms for basically the same situation. And I think I have it.

Since the beginning of jump lessons, my trainers and friend have remarked that I don't have my legs even in the stirrups - one is longer than the other, but it keeps switching off. At the end of lessons my saddle will be off to one side, again switching off. And over time I have been getting more and more paranoid about it, constantly shifting my weight around, trying to see if my feet and knees are even when I look down, trying to gauge how even my hips feel in the saddle. Its compounded by Spirit's round back, and my recent acquisition of a non-slip pad has been helping to some degree. It's been easy to ignore. Must be Spirit's back, must be my developing balance, must be that borrowed saddle, must be XYZ. Plus I only notice it when riding - its not like I walk off-kilter or anything. And who knows how long I've been uneven? Before jumping I did bareback riding for years - no stirrups to worry about.

Some weeks back I went to see a physical therapist/body worker for my TMJ, and on a whim I mentioned my leg unevenness issues when riding. I was lying face up, and she took my legs and stretched then out and did an alignment. Then she picked up one ankle and banged it against my other ankle. Yep. My right leg is like an inch shorter than my left one. YIKES! She took a look at my body, and apparently the issue is in my hip - the muscles are very tight on my right side for some reason. She prescribed stretching my psoas muscle (part of hip flexor group) regularly. I'll be honest, I need to do it a lot more than I have been.

I've also started paying attention to how I have my hips and legs while seated at my desk at work and at home. I realize that I almost never sit regularly - I'd always have one leg under my bum, or a leg crossed, or ankles crossed and out to an angle. Never just even with both hips on the chair. My gut tells me that this may be the cause, or at least its prolonging the issue. So I've been trying to be more mindful of my position and posture when sitting down.

What I need to do is go back to my therapist for a check in. I already know that I need to stretch more regularly, and for sure stretch before and after riding. -_- Blah. I'm gonna feel like a big weirdo. I know Daniel Stewart recommends it though. Does anyone actually do this?

Just this afternoon, my trainer shared the below photo on Facebook, credited to Craig T. Roberts, DVM Inc.:

How could I be so naive as to have such a cavalier attitude towards my leg/seat/balance issues? Constant readjustment of the saddle, shifting weight, etc, really cannot be healthy for Spirit's back. Time to get serious about stretching. Who cares if I'm embarrassed? Whats really embarrassing is a lame horse because the rider can't suck it up and do a few stretches. Attitude corrected.


  1. I broke my left ankle as a kid in a riding accident and (being a kid) didn't do my PT like I should have. The result is my left ankle doesn't flex very well, which you can imagine makes riding/staying balanced in the saddle a bit harder. I absolutely reccomend doing any kind of stretching that you can in order to correct the issue now. Spriit will thank you :) I love doing yoga in addition to my riding. It really helps my seat and I notice a definite difference in the saddle when I am practicing regularly.

  2. Daniel Stewart is a creeper.

    That said, stretch it out, lady! It can only help both you and Spirit out.

  3. Good point Eva - I haven't been thinking about Spirit's comfort as much as I should have. I've been doing some yoga too and I think its been good.

    Lol Aimee! Hahaha. Have you clinic'd with him?

    Yeah I think there should be private stretching rooms at the barn. I'm gonna feel like a dork just stretching it out in a walkway or something. Maybe I'll "hide" in Spirit's extremely visible pipe corral stall.

    1. After P threw me into the arena wall a year ago I've had HELL trying to get my psoas to be anything other than tight-as-all-get-out.

      I will say that acupuncture has helped tremendously and they've started to stay not totally-seized up for up to two weeks! life changing.

  4. Oh, Sister, I so hear you! I ride with one stirrup a full hole shorter because I am so uneven. I stretch, but it do a lot of good. I am just twisted and crooked, but I do try ... very big sigh!


  5. New reader here! But I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone! My legs are a little off and because I compensate differently my muscles pull my legs into different positions. I am always riding my my right stirrup shorter because my right leg is often shorter except for immediately after I leave my chiropractor.

    Cool picture on balance rides.