PT on the Net Research

Arm/Opposite Leg Tightness


Question:

I would like to know if there is a connection between right handed people and a tight left leg and left handed people and a tight right leg. I have been seeing it with quite a few of my clients and have no idea why.

Answer:

Thanks for your question! In 15 years of clinical experience, I have not found a consistent correlation between right handedness and left handedness individuals and tightness on the opposite side. However, it may be the way we assess overall function. In other words, our approach is to not get confused with the often confused term “tightness.” Tightness can mean a lot of different things. For example, tightness may mean increase tonicity, a myofascial restriction, capsular restriction, nerve impingement, ligamentous restriction, lymphatic restriction, osseous restriction, etc. Now, there is a point to what you’re observing in that the body will efficiently load the right or left upper extremity (to unload or produce strength) by using the opposite leg. This can be seen in walking, as you walk with your left leg forward your right hand is migrating to the left as we counter-rotate to make walking economical. So if a person has a job or carries out a task that is calling for a repetitive counter-rotation, you can definitely build a case! Remember form follows function. If you’re seeing this pattern in your clients and you believe it is detracting from their function, them simply ask them about their everyday habits and ask yourself, “Is this creating a repetitive strain pattern that could potentially cause a restriction and thus impede overall function?” If so, make the necessary adjustments in lifestyle and design a program to help balance their function.  

We hope this adds to your thought process! Good luck.