Measuring for a leg length discrepancy

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brown dress shoe with a external shoe lift

What is LLD?

Leg length discrepancy (LLD) is also known as short leg syndrome, leg length insufficiency, leg length deficiency or anisomelia. It is when your legs are of unequal lengths.

Leg length discrepancy (LLD) can exist from birth or it can be developed in adult life. Short leg syndrome in most case is the actual leg bones that are of different lengths. Or in is the placement or position of the hip socket.

The lifestyle of the individual can play a role in determining whether the leg length discrepancy becomes symptomatic. an LLD can cause abnormal and excessive stress on the hip, knee, spine, sacroiliac joint and the surrounding muscles.

Leg length discrepancy (LLD) affects up to 90% of the general population. So a lot of people have a small degree of a leg length discrepancy. The larger differences can affect your quality of life by causing pain in your back, hip, knees or ankles. It can also have a negative effect on your walking a posture.

Radiography is considered the gold standard for measuring LLD. The direct clinical method measures the distance using a tape measure between two anatomical points while lying in a supine position.

How to measure

We always suggest that you get measured for a shoe lift by a professional like your doctor or chiropractor.

If you do want to try measuring yourself at home you will need to get several wood blocks or other firm material of varying known thickness. It is best to have a couple of various sizes that you can combine to determent your leg length discrepancy.

how to measure for a leg length discrepancy

Standing on a flat and firm surface, place the blocks under the shorter until you fell even and balanced. You can also use hardback books. Then use a ruler to get the measurement. This amount is known as the functional leg length measurement.


Place them under the short limb, either under the heel or the entire foot. Whichever way is just personal preference in the function and feel of the lift. You should try out both ways to see witch way makes you feel the best.


The longer a person lives with a leg length discrepancy, the less likely he or she will be able to tolerate a full correction immediately. It may also feel more comfortable with just a heel lift verses a lift spanning the entire length of the shoe.


Once you determine how much of a shoe lift you can handle, you then need to decide how to best to apply it. There are certain advantages and disadvantages to using either internal or external heel lifts.


Internal heel lifts: Putting a simple heel lift inside the shoe has some advantages. Besides it being more aesthetically pleasing, you only need one lift and then you can moving it from shoe to shoe.


But there is a limit as to how much lift put in your shoe before affect fit. You can only put so much of a lift inside a shoe before the heel starts to coming out of the shoe. We only suggest up to 1/4”.


External heel lifts: If a shoe lift measurement is greater than 1/4″ you will problem need an external shoe modification. The advantage of this is the shoe fit remains the same. Although some people may worry about the cosmetics look of the shoe lift, it does ensure better fit and overall function.


Thing to note

Also you should know that the external shoe buildups will wear down over time.  So you will need to have them resoled or get a new pair. On high-heel shoes, like cowboys and lady’s heels we can lower the longer leg side instead of building up the short leg side.

You can also think about doing both internal and external custom shoe lifts when the lift is 1/2″ to 1”, but this is ounce again personal preference.



A combination of measurements can provide more insight into how high of a shoe lift you need to start with. Keep in mind you may need to do some adjusting. Also over time you should remember that shoe lift could change.