A study published in the June 16, 2014, issue of the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research showed that chiropractic adjustments have a positive effect on walking, and basic lower body balance and biomechanics. This study looked at leg length differences and documented that chiropractic adjustments changed leg length which had an effect on walking.
The authors begin by noting that there are two types of short legs as seen on patients. “Two types of leg length inequality (LLI) exist, anatomical and functional. It has been suggested that a consequence of possessing a short lower limb is that it places abnormal mechanical stress on both lower limbs.” They explain that an anatomical short leg is one where the leg itself is actually shorter either from birth, disease or accident. A functional short leg is one that is not really any shorter but seems to measure shorter when compared to the other leg. The functional short leg is believed to be resulting from the person’s hips or spine being out of alignment therefore causing one leg to look shorter.
This study was designed to look at the effects of chiropractic adjustments on leg lengths and how that affected people’s walking gait called “walking kinematics.” In this study, 41 participants were tested with a 90-second baseline gait analysis utilizing specific equipment that measures their gait while walking. A short leg analysis was also performed on all subjects to look for functional short legs. Those participants that had a short leg were divided into two groups. One of the groups received a chiropractic adjustment while the other group did not. After this, all subjects were given a follow-up 90-second gait analysis. All participants had no symptoms.
The results showed that there were changes in walking for those participants who were adjusted. Adjustments on the side of the longer leg seemed to cause a larger change than that on the shorter side. There was also improvement noted in step length and knee angle. These improvements were noticed even though the patients included in this study had no symptoms or pain.
The authors of this study concluded, “Preliminarily this suggests that adjustment in response to a functionally short leg results in small changes in certain gait parameters in 18-45 year-old asymptomatic individuals.”