Holy Leg Length discrepancy!

These pix come to us from one of our brethren, Dr Scott Tesoro in Carbondale of a 73 yr old golfer with mild LBP and a  L knee replacement three yrs ago. He has a VERY short R leg (close to an inch).

What you are seeing is he ultimate compensation for a short leg. Note how he takes the shorter side and supinates it (to the max!). You can see the external rotation of the lower leg and thigh to go along with it. If you look carefully and extrapolate how his left leg would look “neutral”, you can see he has internal tibial torsion on this (right) side as well. He has some increased midfoot pronation on the right compared to the left, but not an excessive amount.

A full length sole lift would probably be in order, as well as potentially addressing some of his compensations. Wow, what a great set of pictures !

One way compensations develop

We have all had injuries; some acute some chronic. Often times injuries result in damage to the joint or articulation;  when the ligament surrounding a joint becomes injured we call this a “sprain”. 

Joints are blessed with four types of mechanoreceptors.  We have covered this in many other posts (see here and here).  These mechanoreceptors apprise the central nervous system of the position (proprioception or kinesthesis) of that body part or joint via the dorsal column system or spinocerebellar tracts. Damage to these receptors can result in a mismatch or inaccuracy of information to the central nervous system (CNS). This can often result in further injury or a new compensation pattern. 

Joints have another protective mechanism called arthrogenic inhibition (see diagram above). This protective reflex turns off the muscles which cross the joint. This was described in a few great paper by Iles and Stokes in the late 80’s an early 90’s (vide infra). Not only are the muscles inhibited, but it can also lead to muscle wasting; there does not need to be pain and a small joint effusion can cause the reflex to occur. 

If the muscles are inhibited and cannot provide appropriate afferent (sensory) and efferent (motor) information to the CNS, your brain makes other arrangements to have the movement occur, often recruiting muscles that may not be the best choice for the job. We call this a “compensation” or “compensation pattern”. An example would be that if the glute max is inhibited (a 2 joint muscle, with a larger attachment to the IT band and a smaller to the gluteal tuberosity; it is a hip extender, external rotator and adductor of the thigh), you may use your lumbar erectors (multi joint muscles; extensors and lateral rotators of the lumbar spine) or hamstrings (2 joint muscles; hip extenders, knee flexors, internal and external rotators of the thigh)  to extend the hip on that side, resulting in aberrant mechanics often observable in gait, which may manifest itself as a shortened step length, increased vertical displacement of the pelvis, lateral shift of the pelvis or increase in step height, just to name a few. Keep this up for a while and the new “pattern” becomes ingrained in the CNS and that becomes your new default for that motion.

Now to fix the problem, you not only need to reactivate the muscle, but you need to retrain the activity. Alas, the importance of doing a thorough exam and thorough rehab to fix the problem.

Often times, the fix is much more involved than figuring out what the problem is (or was). Take your time and do a good job. Your clients and patients will appreciate it!

Ivo and Shawn, the gait guys

Young A, Stokes M, Iles JF : Effects of joint pathology on muscle. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1987 Jun;(219):21-7

Iles JF, Stokes M, Young A.: Reflex actions of knee joint afferents during contraction of the human quadriceps. Clin Physiol. 1990 Sep;10(5):489-500.

image from: http://chiroeco.com/chiro-blog/results-to-referrals/2013/04/03/neurology-based-simplified-musculoskeletal-assessment/

Podcast 69: Advanced Arm Swing Concepts, Compensation Patterns and more

Plus: Foot Arch Pathomechanics, Knee Pivot Shift and Sesamoiditis and more !

A. Link to our server: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_70ff.mp3

Direct Download: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-70

Permalink: 

B. iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

1. “Compensation depends on the interplay of multiple factors: The availability of a compensatory response, the cost of compensation, and the stability of the system being perturbed.”
What happens when we change the length of one leg? How do we compensate? Here is a look at the short term consequences of a newly acquired leg length difference.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24857934
2. Medial Longitudinal Arch Mechanics Before and After a 45 Minute Run
http://www.japmaonline.org/doi/abs/10.7547/12-106.1

3. Several months ago we talked about the pivot-shift phenomenon. It is frequently missed clinically because it can be a tricky hands on assessment of the knee joint. In this article “ACL-deficient patients adopted the … .* Remember: what you see in their gait is not their problem, it is their strategy around their problem.
http://www.clinbiomech.com/article/S0268-0033(10)00264-0/abstract

4.Do you know the difference between a forefoot supinatus and a forefoot varus?
“A forefoot varus differs from forefoot supinatus in that a forefoot varus is a congenital osseous deformity that induces subtalar joint pronation, whereas forefoot supinatus is acquired and develops because of subtalar joint pronation. “
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24980930

5. Pubmed abstract link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24865637
Gait Posture. 2014 Jun;40(2):321-6. Epub 2014 May 6.
Arm swing in human walking: What is their drive?
Goudriaan M, Jonkers I, van Dieen JH, Bruijn SM

6. This is Your Brain On Guitar
http://www.the-open-mind.com/this-is-your-brain-on-guitar/

Podcast 69: Advanced Arm Swing Concepts, Compensation Patterns and more

Plus: Foot Arch Pathomechanics, Knee Pivot Shift and Sesamoiditis and more !

A. Link to our server: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_70ff.mp3

Direct Download: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-70

Permalink: 

B. iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

1. “Compensation depends on the interplay of multiple factors: The availability of a compensatory response, the cost of compensation, and the stability of the system being perturbed.”
What happens when we change the length of one leg? How do we compensate? Here is a look at the short term consequences of a newly acquired leg length difference.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24857934
2. Medial Longitudinal Arch Mechanics Before and After a 45 Minute Run
http://www.japmaonline.org/doi/abs/10.7547/12-106.1

3. Several months ago we talked about the pivot-shift phenomenon. It is frequently missed clinically because it can be a tricky hands on assessment of the knee joint. In this article “ACL-deficient patients adopted the … .* Remember: what you see in their gait is not their problem, it is their strategy around their problem.
http://www.clinbiomech.com/article/S0268-0033(10)00264-0/abstract

4.Do you know the difference between a forefoot supinatus and a forefoot varus?
“A forefoot varus differs from forefoot supinatus in that a forefoot varus is a congenital osseous deformity that induces subtalar joint pronation, whereas forefoot supinatus is acquired and develops because of subtalar joint pronation. “
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24980930

5. Pubmed abstract link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24865637
Gait Posture. 2014 Jun;40(2):321-6. Epub 2014 May 6.
Arm swing in human walking: What is their drive?
Goudriaan M, Jonkers I, van Dieen JH, Bruijn SM

6. This is Your Brain On Guitar
http://www.the-open-mind.com/this-is-your-brain-on-guitar/

Go ahead and try this at home.

remember last mondays post? (if not, click here). Here is one way of telling whether your (or someone else’s) vestibular system is working. It will also give you an idea of how some people compensate.

Ready?

  • Stand up (barefoot or shoes does not matter).
  • place your hands resting on the top of your hips with your thumbs to the back (like your Mom used to, when you were in trouble). Your thumbs should be resting on your quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle.
  • tilt your HEAD to the LEFT
  • you should feel the muscle (ie the QL) under your RIGHT thumb contract
  • come back upright

repeat, but this time lean your BODY to the LEFT

  • same thing right? Now check the other side.

Everything OK? Everything fire as it should?

Now lets add another dimension.

  • slide your fingers down so they are just below the crest of the hip, resting above the greater trochanter (the bump on the side of your upper thigh). This should place your fingers on the middle fibers of the gluteus medius.
  • tilt your head (or body ) to the LEFT.
  • You should feel the LEFT gluteus medius and the RIGHT QL contract. These muscles should be paired neurologically. When walking, during stance phase on the LEFT: the LEFT gluteus medius helps to maintain the pelvis level, while the RIGHT QL, assists in hiking the RIGHT side.

If everything works OK, then your vestibulospinal spinal system is intact and your QL and gluteus medius seem to be firing and appropriately paired. If not? That is the subject for another post.

The Gait Guys. Helping you to understand the concepts of WHY compensations occur.

Things may not always be how they appear.

What can you notice about all these kids that you may not have noticed before?

Look north for a moment. What do you notice about all the kids with a head tilt? We are talking about girl in pink on viewers left, gentleman in red 2nd from left, blue shirt all the way on viewers right. Notice how the posture of the 2 on the left are very similar and the one on the right is the mirror image?

What can be said about the rest of their body posture? Can you see how the body is trying to move so that the eyes can be parallel with the horizon? This is part of a vestibulo cerebellar reflex. The system is designed to try and keep the eyes parallel with the horizon. The semicircular canals (see above), located medial to your ears, sense linear and angular acceleration. These structures feed head position information to the cerebellum which then forwards it to the vestibular nucleii, which sends messages down the vestibulo spinal tract and up the medial longitudinal fasiculus to adjust the body position and eye position accordingly. 

Can you see how when we add another parameter to the postural position (in this case, running; yes, it may be staged, but the reflex persists despite that. Neurology does not lie), that there can be a compensation that you may not have expected?

What if one of these 3 (or all three) kids had neck pain. Can you see how it may not be coming from the neck. What do you think happens with cortical (re)mapping over many years of a compensation like this? Hmmm. Makes you think, eh?

Ivo and Shawn. The Gait Guys. Taking you a little further down the rabbit hole, each and every post.

 Master of your own physiology

You don’t need perfect mechanics to win. Look at these fine gents and take note.

On the left we have Kenensia “Canny” Bekele, world and Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder, who sat back as Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie set the pace for most of the race, and then sprinted at the end and won by 1 second. Note the crossover and lack of space between his thighs. Note also the internal tibial torsion of the left tibia and slight head tilt to the right.

In the middle is Mo Farah, the current 10,000 meter Olympic and World champion and 5000 meter Olympic, World and European champion. look at the pelvic dip on the right..and the valgus angle of the left knee…and external tibail torsion of the left tibia…and the differing arm swing (right side abducted).

Finally, on the right,  we have Haile Gebrselassie, an Ethiopian like Bekele, who won two Olympic gold medals over 10,000 meters and four Wld Championship titles in the event. He won the Berlin Marathon four times consecutively and also had three straight wins at the Dubai Marathon.  At 40, he is the eldest of the group, with his right lower extremity external tibial torsion and subtle dip of the left pelvis on right sided weight bearing.

So What? All these great athletes have mastered their own physiology and overcome any biomechanical faults they may appear to have. Could they be faster? Maybe. We think so.

Your body will find a way to compensate. That does not mean you will be slower. It means, like each of these men, that you will probably be injured at some point.

In the words of Big Z from Surf’s Up “Winners find a way”. You can too and so can your clients and athletes. Skill, endurance and strength. The big 3. Make sure you an the folks you care for have them.

We are The Gait Guys. Teaching you more with each post we write and helping you sort through the sea of information out there.