Leg length discrepancy (LLD)

Hey everyone. Through the process of learning to ride a unicycle, I discovered that I have a leg length discrepancy or LLD, and a pelvic tilt. 11 years ago I was involved in a motorcycle accident when a car pulled out directly in front of me while I was traveling at 50mph. I had minor fractures throughout my pelvis and damage to the muscles in one hip but I can’t remember which one. I never put much effort into the physical therapy prescribed to me. Now I’m paying the price.

After healing I continued to live an active lifestyle of hiking and biking. Since the accident, I’ve always had pain and tightness in my left side, hip flexors especially. No matter how much I stretch, it never goes away for long. The pain was always more of an annoyance than anything. It never stopped me from hiking 30 miles or so in a day. Or biking 60. And it usually felt better after a day like that. For years I’ve been able to, for the most part, ignore the problem. Then I started riding a unicycle and that all changed.

Once I got my balance down and was able to ride for longer distances, I noticed that the uni was consistently pulling to the right. I have to push my weight to the left just to go straight. It seems this is happening because my right leg is shorter and my body is having to shift to the right in order to hit the bottom of the pedal stroke. I have tried lowering or raising the saddle which doesn’t help much. Twisting the saddle far to the left feels better. But the problem is still there.

I corrected the leg length discrepancy with some 1mm thick rubber sheeting that I cut to the same size as my insoles. I stacked 2 of them (2mm) in my shoe. When I first slipped on the shoe and stood up it was like night and day. I could feel my hips aligned better just while standing and walking. I went for a 10 mile hike that day and was absolutely pain free in the hips and lower back. That never happens. I did look into special lifts made for LLD but all of them focused on the heel. Obviously that won’t do anything when I’m pedaling with the ball of my foot. I’m sure a doctor could help me with a special insole and I’ll go that route if needed.

Although it helped while standing or walking, stacking the rubber in my shoe did not do anything for my pedaling imbalance. I tried everything from 1mm to 6mm in the right shoe and it doesn’t seem to help the pedaling imbalance at all. I am riding an old, crappy uni but the wheel is true. The frame seems to be straight. The tire is old but does not seem very worn at all. Plently of tread life. Butt…the saddle is very well used. It is clearly worn to someone elses butt and it’s not worn evenly. I thought about buying a new saddle but I will be purchasing a new muni in the next few weeks anyways. I am curious to see how my problem will show itself on a brand new machine. I suspect that it will give me a more clear picture on where the problem may lie.

This problem is very frustrating to me because it’s the only thing holding me back from going further distances on the uni. The furthest I have gone is 4 miles and that was with plenty of stops to adjust the saddle or foot placement in an effort to correct this imbalance. If not for the discomfort, my legs and lungs would allow me to go much further. I can feel it! I will say that on that 4 mile trip I got more comfortable as I settled in and tried different riding positions. Never comfortable enough though. And the LLD was still noticeable at all times.

I know most of you will suggest seeking professional help and I will. I do believe this is something that can be corrected with the help of a professional through physical therapy, stretching, special exercises, etc. In the meantime, I still want (need?) to ride a uni and I still have this imbalance to deal with.

Has anyone out there had an imbalance so severe that it was pulling you of course? What did you do to correct it? Any ideas in general on the topic? Any idea what kind of doctor I should seek out?

Kust my thoughts. Keep riding like this and your body will adjust to it. You can also try a shorter crank on one side - you’ll probably find turning one way easier than the other.

I was hoping that I will just get used to it. I’m thinking now that my old saddle has something to do with it. It slopes side to side, not really any spot to sit in the middle.

This was my first thought. Then I did some reading and had second thoughts about it. When I get my new uni I’ll have to look into trying this.

How long have you been unicycling?

Your injury may have caused other problems but having one leg longer than the other is relatively common. The condition is known as leg length discrepancy. Some research indicates that 40–70% of people have some form of leg length discrepancy (LLD). The differences in leg length can range from a fraction of an inch to several inches.

Maybe a saddle post that has a Z shaped bend to one side would be something to try.

Only one month or so.

I have read that it’s common and that it doesn’t cause most people any issue. I also read that when the LLD is brought on by injury the chances of it being problematic are higher. This makes sense becasue obviously any injury has more potential to cause problems.

I like the idea of the offset post. I guess I could try it if it comes to that!

I would check the cranks for bend, especially if you have “an old, crappy uni”. I was riding a Lloyd’s(basically the same as a Schwinn) unicycle a while back and I was constantly being pulled to one side and couldn’t figure out why. Turns out the crank was bent inwards and therefore was messing with riding. They were cottered cranks and used to play uni basketball many years ago so that’s probably why one got bent.

I think you should forget about what you think is wrong.
One month in the “learning to ride a unicycle” phase is nothing (Mark Vogels excluded as his equals three years!)

Ride a bunch and then ride some more. I bet your troubles will disappear.

I also think a visit to a pediatrist would be a good thing for you.

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That is my hope as I continue to progress. Thanks for the encouragement!

The crank arms are straight and for thw most part brand new. However, they are cotterless arms and the square taper hole was punched off center on one of the arms. It’s very minimal but could be enough to throw me off especially when already dealing with the other issues. I should have a new uni in the next week or two then I’ll know if it’s that I guess.

You can try to rule out mechanical imbalance.

Rotate the saddle and ride in the opposite direction. It will usually loosen the pedals so don’t do it for long (unless you use some thread lock on the pedals).

But yes I also agree with other posters that I think this is likely just beginner issues that will go away with practice. I started learning ~8 month ago and I often had issues staying centered on the saddle sliding a bit to one side and was unable to recover without taking a break and re mounting.
Also just a bit of road camber was a big hurdle for me in the beginning. Another tire helped but in the end what really helped was just a lot of time in the saddle.

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This is brilliant. I will try this later tonight. I sure hope it’s a mechanical problem!

I do think that with time I will adapt and this problem will becone less noticeable or maybe disappear. I’m just worried about acquiring bad riding habits I suppose. I probably just need to ride more and worry less.