Short Right Leg Syndrome - Basics

This is the intro to a more comprehensive paper I am presently writing on this condition. It is so common and underlies much pain and many injuries experienced. I am astounded it was not a component of our Remedial training at university and the lack of attention given to it by therapists generally...

Chatting with my Craniosacral instructor a few years ago, he mentions that 63% of his clients have a short right leg.    I go… “What?!?!” ”No...not possible!!!”


We were taught to assess leg length in the Diploma of Remedial Massage at Swinburne Uni. I had not noticed a significant number of leg length discrepancies in my clinical practice. Had I really been looking. Well...the truth of it was, I had not. Once I started doing regular assessments I observed many cases and after several months had to agree with my instructor. More than 50% of the clients on my table have a short right leg. About once every year or two I encounter a short left leg. Of the rest, roughly half are even and half have a short right leg. We call this Short Right Leg Syndrome (SRLS). Most clients with SRLS are unaware of it and have a range of mild to acute symptoms affecting the backline of their left lower limb, left SIJ, back and/or neck, and displacement of the sphenoid bone in the skull to the right. 


Signs and Symptoms

  • Anterior rotation of the left hip

  • Tight left hip flexors

  • Sensitivity or pain on palpation of the left SIJ

  • Tightening and thickening through the back line of the left lower limb through glutes, hamstrings, calf, achilles and plantar fascia

  • Stiffness at right hip easily felt tractioning right leg

  • Back pain or tightness at Lx, Tx and/or Cx

  • Scoliosis with thoracic vertebrae push to the subject's right (viewed posteriorly), bulging the ribcage to the right of the spine, flattening it on the left

Leg Length Tests Demonstrating SRLS

  • Standing, viewed from the front, subject's left ASIS superior to the right.

  • Standing, viewed from the rear, the subject's right gluteal fold inferior to the left.

  • Supine, legs straight at the knees, compare the relative positions of the left and right malleolus and then the relative positions of the left and right ASIS. The nett effect indicating comparative leg lengths...typically right malleolus fractionally superior to left (1-5mm) and left ASIS superior to right (5-10mm). It is possible for leg lengths to be even and tightness through the torso elevates one which case, an equivalent difference will be seen at the malleolus.

  • Supine, raise knees forming a triangle with hip, knee and ankle, feet flat on tabletop. Should one hip be superior in the supine position, adjust the foot position of that leg superiorly by an equivalent amount and compare the height of the triangle at the knee.This test confirms the straight leg comparison result and is also a concrete way of bringing it to the subject’s attention there is a leg length simply raising their head slightly they have an ideal view of the knee height discrepancy.

  • Frontal X-Ray of the subject’s hips, standing upright gives indisputable evidence measurable with great accuracy.

The only comment I can make when asked why, is I have heard reports made by midwives of babies born with it, I observe that the bulk of cases have bulging distorted rib cages that occurred while the bones were still green and malleable to pressure from a scoliotic spine and these individuals did not grow out of it. In Chinese philosophical terms the left side of the body is Yang and the right is Yin...I speculate about the possibility of the left being more active and forceful energetically, hence growing fractionally larger/longer.

Contact Info
Simon Crittenden
18 First Avenue
Cockatoo VIC 3781
mbl  0416 268 255
Vitality Health
282 Richardson Street
Middle Park VIC 3206
ph (03) 9682 8866
mbl 0416 268 255

Massage Works Dandenong Ranges

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