Leg length discrepancy & martial arts

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning Discussion' started by Vayl, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. Vayl

    Vayl White Belt

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    First of all, my apologies if this is the wrong section for this kind of post. I did try to figure out which section would be most fitted for this and ended up here.

    Basically, a while ago I did some Muay Thai but had to stop due to lower back and hip pain.

    After some digging (quite a lot of digging actually), turns out I have a leg longer than the other. Doctors, physical therapists etc. told me that this length discrepancy was the root of the problem, and is the reason I currently have a light scoliosis and hip misalignment.
    That pain showed up during all kinds of training; whether weightlifting, Muay Thai, Crossfit etc. (I tried a bunch of stuff).

    Long story short, turns out that I have a leg longer than the other so now I wear soles to even them out- and since I have, back/leg pain has vanished. The soles do a great job at putting everything in place.

    The thing is though, I really want to practice Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu.

    The issue here is of course, you can't practice these arts with shoes. Most gyms/dojos require you to be barefoot, understandably so.
    So I've been doing boxing (which is pretty awesome in itself), but I can't help but wonder if there was a solution to this? Anyone here ever had to deal with this? Is there anything I can do about it?

    An interesting story I found is one of Bruce Lee (link), basically he had a leg shorter than the other so he changed lead foot (though that wasn't the only reason). I still don't understand the reasoning behind it so if someone can explain it, that would be much appreciated.

    Finally, some technical information about me if relevant in any way:
    My left leg (lead) is shorter by 1.5 cm (0.59 inches) than my right leg (back). I'm a righty.
    I'm 28 years old.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Badger67

    Badger67 Taxidea taxus

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    I've had to work with this last year for a client so some generic info here may be useful.

    You can still train and even compete, you will just have to adapt it. In addition to what the PT's and doctors are doing/orthotics etc (glad they're helping).
    Likely, having your longer leg be the lead leg is going to be what works best, as that leg will be able to possess a greater flex angle allowing the limbs to even out during the stance phase of your MT or stand up in BJJ. (unless you like back footed stance styles)

    Bruce Lee extended that right leg for a few reasons ( i don't even have to read the article): longer reach during extension of a front kick, more even distribution (what you need), and he liked having his more powerful side forward anyway as it was faster also for him.

    That is quite the leg length discrepancy, i hope it evens out your scoliosis with the new footwear. My ex had a double curve on her spine. It's not the end of the world for your training, just adapt, take it slow, and you may have to learn how to fight opposite your preferred side so find a good coach who can help with that.

    Hope this helps a bit.
     
  3. Vayl

    Vayl White Belt

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    Thanks for taking the time to reply, I'm really happy to hear that. No doubt it will need rigorous work which I'm willing to do.
    Are there any specific kind of exercises I should keep doing to keep the pain away and prevent further injury/pain?

    You mention 'even distribution', can you please explain how having the right foot (so the longer foot in this case) as lead contributes to that?

    Thanks a bunch.
     
  4. Badger67

    Badger67 Taxidea taxus

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    For exercises, if you're still seeing your PT or doc, go with what they say since they have more info on you and a better understanding of where the curve is, if a nerve is involved etc. We're not in person so over the interwebz this is too difficult for something so sensitive like the spine (i don't like handing out spine or nerve exercises online as they go wrong so fast). General rule of thumb is pain as a guideline.

    When barefoot:
    When standing on your shortened leg (keeping it as the one back, and your longer leg slightly forward, or, in your MT stance), your longer leg is forced to have a slightly greater angle towards hip flexion as opposed to being 180 degrees vertical. This in turn keeps a slight knee flexion and dorsi flexion of the foot, which will even out the stance and weight distribution among the BOS, so the pelvis can be aligned properly laterally. This is why you need a good boxer/MT coach to serve your style, unless you like rear legged stance styles.

    Otherwise, when you stand with both feet in line, you notice the obvious pelvic tilt and spine tilt to counteract this force. Additionally, you'll notice either you will stand on the shorter leg and keeping a bent knee of the longer one, increasing the pressure on the joint of the non affected leg (similar to how someone lazily stands on one leg more than the other). Or, you will stand on the longer leg and be unbalanced as the shorter legs heel will not likely be in contact with the ground. Does this make sense?
     
  5. Vayl

    Vayl White Belt

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    Hey Badger87,

    So it took me some time to answer back because I actually went ahead before yesterday and saw my physical therapist, and yesterday I went for my first boxing class... as southpaw.

    It seems that you are right in every way. My PT found this to be a very efficient and elegant solution to a double problem that I have.

    1- Right leg longer than left one: having the right leg as the lead leg allows even distribution- problem solved.

    2- Scoliosis: funnily enough, although my right leg is longer than my left one, my right shoulder is lower than my left one.
    This has been the source of much confusion for me for a while. Anyway, having my right arm as my lead implies that I have to raise my right shoulder (and tuck my chin in it) often- which means that I'll counter the scoliosis merely through proper technique (I'm aware scoliosis is permanent, however perhaps this will stop it from getting worse?)

    Southpaw was obviously a bit weird. My right shoulder tired quickly and my movement was a bit off. I gotta admit though that it seems to have quite a few advantages that I'm eager to get to.

    So Badger87 :) Thank you for taking the time and helping a total stranger on the internet. I actually printed your answers and took them to my PT and I think on the long term, I will benefit immensely from them.

    Ending this on a Bruce Lee quote:

    “You will never learn anything new unless you are ready to accept yourself with your limitations,” Bruce answered. “You must accept the fact that you are capable in some directions and limited in others, and you must develop your capabilities.”

    Peace.
     
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  6. Badger67

    Badger67 Taxidea taxus

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    Glad to help and hope things perk up.

    Stick around, the forums are fun.
     
  7. Sano

    Sano Red Belt

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    ^^ Valuable asset right here.
     
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  8. Badger67

    Badger67 Taxidea taxus

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    I Luh you. In all seriousness i saw you posted and got excited to learn something from you lol. Been wondering where've you been hiding at? Once you're all PT'd up you'll be the go to guy, i'll sit in the corner with the cone of shame,.
     
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  9. Sano

    Sano Red Belt

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    [​IMG]

    Haha seriously, that means a lot coming from you. Thanks. I have a lot to learn and long ways to go though! Don't have any real experience yet. Hopefully I'll get there.

    Well, just chilling pretty much. We have 3 months of interprofessional collaboration with others students in the health care section. You know, bioanalysts, radiographers, nurses and such. We basicly have to do a big study on communication and how to tackle the difficulties of working together, both logistically and personally. It's an outlier semester haha!

    Next one will put things together though. Hands on practice and pathology!

    Don't worry, I'll be back soon enough! :)
     
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