In 1997, I was taking a dance class at UCSC when my instructor pointed out to me that my left hip was higher than my right. She didn’t know it at the time, but she’d made a vital discovery that started me down the path to unlocking a major stressor in my body.
Fast forward to 2016. I’ve visited back specialists, chiropractors, physical therapists, shiatsu practitioners, acupuncturists, Feldenkrais practitioners, bodyworkers, rolfers–all of whom were amazing and added key pieces to this difficult puzzle–but no one could (or would) answer the big question on my mind: Is this posture imbalance something I can correct (a functional imbalance) or not (a structural imbalance)? I was told early on that I had a slight scoliosis and that my right leg appeared to be shorter than my left leg…but that could just be my body’s way of compensating. Through a customized fitness program and a lot of Egoscue postural therapy, I was able to improve dramatically and stay mostly pain-free (prior to that, in my early 20’s, I had daily back pain)…but it always felt like I was hanging on by a thread and that I had to work really hard to maintain that progress. And then more recently, it became impossible.
My neck started feeling tense all the time and seemed to slip out of alignment hours after getting it adjusted. I decided to go back to my rolfer and see if she could shed some light on why my body was no longer holding herself in alignment. She looked at my spine and posture and not only was my neck WAY out of alignment, but so was my pelvis, back, and shoulders. I reminded her of what I’d observed over the years and the unanswered question about my leg length and she placed a booklet under my right foot. Except for my neck still being slightly out of alignment, EVERYTHING else was aligned! I left her office and bought an insert for my right shoe. I put it on in the store and walked around. It felt SO weird! But after about 20 minutes, I started to feel great. My energy increased, I felt stronger in my body…I wanted to move, to dance around! It was a major A-HA moment. The following week I met with an osteopath and he confirmed that I do in fact have a structural leg length difference and that my right lower leg is 1/3 of an inch shorter than my left. My body was working to compensate all these years more or less successfully. All the tools I learned along the way still hold value and while I wish I’d gotten “the answer” a lot sooner, I am so grateful to have it now. The greatest lesson here was to firsthand experience how depleting biomechanical stress can be to a person’s energy and wellbeing. Most people that I work with have functional imbalances–they are correctable. I wanted to share my story to encourage the investigative process for anyone who is dealing with symptoms and thinking that they should just give up.
We all have different health journeys, but help is out there and the body has an amazing capacity for healing if you remove the obstacles blocking its way. Don’t give up! If you have questions or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.