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Unequal Leg Lengths


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For just over a year now it came to my attention that I have a SLIGHT leg length difference. It was discovered by a kinesiology specialist during a week long seminar, so I grudgingly feel she is accurate that it is indeed a structural flaw rather than some muscular or functional one. It's not too bad since it was discovered about three years into my ballet training, so I don't think it's too terribly obvious unless you're looking for it. I think she measured it to be around .5" of difference, give or take. It does have the unfortunate effect of slightly skewing my hip line, mainly when standing in tight positions like 5th. The specialist recommended I wear a heel lift in my shoes on the shorter side to better balance out things, including my ballet shoes. I tried the lift in the ballet shoe for a few weeks but soon gave it up due to it making me look like I had an unfortunate heel tumor, it was a bit unpleasant, and because I would slide off of it during class. I still wear one in my real shoes though, and just try to stay aware of it during ballet class.


*whew* Backstory complete, I'd like to know if anyone else has experienced this problem and what they did to compensate for it or overcome it, particularly in the advanced pre-pro/professional realm. It's bothersome since this isn't a typical ballet problem like "bad feet" or "low turnout" and therefore, I feel, less "tolerated", so to speak. Also frustrating is the apparent lack of a "cure", other than strapping myself into a medieval rack for a week (jk...but if it would help...).

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Chronus, if it has never been an issue before, don't make it one now. A slight difference is not that unusual, and if teachers have not noticed it, then I would not worry about it. In terms of the lift, it might have been too much in the ballet shoe. Maybe try a slimmer lift, and if it helps and is comfortable, then glue it in so it doesn't slip. If it doesn't help, then ignore it.

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I too, have a slight leg difference. It was discovered when I went to a massage therapist for lower back pain. He then sent me to an osteopath, and chiropractor- both with the same conclusion (this took place over months, and needless to say, I enjoy second opinions). The problem seems to stem from my right knee and carry down to my foot and up to my hip.

- The chiropractor suggested that I tape my right arch to pull up through the knee to help make both knees align evenly. I am trying this and it seems to be working. (Similar to you, my hips were appearing skewed, most noticeably when I was jumping in second position- I was jumping with one foot slightly behind the other- not in a straight side position! This was discovered by the AD so you can imagine my embarassment)

- The osteopath also suggested a heel lift that could be glued in my ballet shoe, a good thought and I have seen it before, but I am trying the arch support taping first. I wear arch supports in my regular shoes, but 6 hours of dancing a day was a lot of time without arch support.


If it is not bothering you too much, don't worry. The only reason I looked into it was because it was causing me lower back pain. My leg uneven-ness was about a quarter inch.

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I also had this issue. I tried heel lifts as well, but like you I found them uncomfortable and unhelpful. I agree with and did what Ms. Leigh suggested, let it alone. I was 14 when I found out and by then was so used to the way I danced with my body the way it was that it was more difficult and threw off my placement by trying to make adjustments so late.

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Hmmm...I guess that's a good plan (lord knows I tend to over-worry). I think if anything, I just need to make sure I'm not sinking into my opposite hip to compensate and to feel my hips being especially level in things like tours...

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I also have unequal leg lengths-and didn't know until I was 24 years old! (My difference is almost one inch...don't ask how it was never noticed.) Honestly, I don't remember how I "compensated" because I didn't realize I had an issue. I do remember fifth on the right being difficult and fighting unequal flexibility. I also remember being corrected quite frequently about putting my heels on the floor in first position during ronde de jambe par terre when using my shorter leg. I never realized what I was fighting against until I put my heel lift in and took a class! Wow! Fifth was so much easier.

On a positive note, I attended several major SIs and danced professionally until my son was born...there is hope! Don't get frustrated! I'd try a lighter lift. Can you dance without one? Also-keep an eye out for scoliosis. Because my difference went undetected, I now have pretty severe scolosis. (Because of my own issues, I really keep an eye out on my students for leg length discrepencies as well as scoliosis.)

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I received this PM from a member who is not eligible to post on this forum. I feel it is valid, so I'm posting his information here. This is from dancesmith:




Basically, the article says that 90 percent of all people have some level of LLI and anything less than ¾ inch should not present a problem (Chronus24 said he believed his was ½ inch). It also says that when there are negative impacts of LLI, it is often the result of asymmetry pelvic rotation.


I could relate to Chronus24 may own personal experience. After being a long-distance runner for many years with LLI (probably about 1/2 inch), over time I developed some severe problems with knee, hip, and back pain. Naturally I quit running but still was to the point of having to wear a lift or the pain would be acute enough for me to limp. I suspected it was early arthritis and a doctor, without running any test, basically agreed.


I give almost complete credit to ballet for totally eliminating all those problems, almost certainly the result of LLI! Ballet instruction has placed the emphasis on posture, staying “up” and the proper alignment of the pelvis, and becoming aware of how the leg should be working from the hip, all of which counter the negative impact of LLI. After a year of ballet, I had done away with the lift and have been completely free of any of the other associated problems for almost two years. I also do quite a bit of other dancing which I think has helped to build up multidirectional leg strength, but I believe the ballet training has by far been the major contributing factor. The point being, from my experience for anyone with concerns about LLI, I would recommend forgetting the lift and simply concentrate on good ballet technique and allow the body to compensate naturally, an approach supported by the article.


While I admit this sounds a little like one of those infomercials and I’m certainly reluctant to offer this to anyone else as medical advice, I thought you might find it interesting on the subject of LLI as it validates what you wisely suggested. If you find appropriate or useful, you’re welcome to pass on any of this in any format you might wish.



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