How to Measure for a Leg Length Discrepancy

brannock device

What is LLD

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

Sometimes a Leg length discrepancy (LLD) can exist from birth, or it can be developed in adult life. Short leg syndrome in most cases 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. The leg length discrepancy 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 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 hurt your walking posture.

How to measure for an external custom shoe lift

We always suggest that you get measured for a shoe lift by a professional like your doctor or chiropractor. You can also check with a local shoe repairman that also does shoe lifts because in the most cast he or she can measure you as well.

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.

Step #1

First, you will need to get several books or other firm materials of varying known thicknesses. It is best to have a couple of various sizes that you can combine to determent your leg length discrepancy.

Step #2

Next you will need to stand in front of a mirror. 

Then place the books under the short limb.

Step #3

After that place your hands on your hips. When the height is correct, the hand on the shorter side will appear to be still slightly shorter.

Thing to Note

This is for clearance reasons during the normal gate. You can measure yourself either under the heel or the entire foot. Whichever way is a personal preference in the function and feel of the lift.

Consequently, some lifts are higher in the back (1″ heel, 1/4″ ball) is not uncommon. You should try out both ways to see which 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 an internal heel lift versus an external custom shoe lift spanning the entire length of the shoe.

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

Internal heel lifts: 

Putting a simple internal heel lift inside the shoe has some advantages. Besides it is more aesthetically pleasing, you only need one lift and then you can move it from shoe to shoe. But there is a limit as to how much lift is put in your shoe before affecting fit. You can only put so much of a lift inside a shoe before the heel starts to come out of the shoe. We only suggest up to 1/4”.

External Custom Shoe Lift:

If a custom 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 custom shoe lift, it does ensure a better fit and overall function.


Also, you should know that the external custom shoe lifts will wear down over time, so you will need to have them resolved. 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 an internal heel lift and external custom shoe lifts when the lift is 1/2″ to 1”, but this is once again personal preference.

In Conclusion

A combination of measurements can provide more insight into how high of a custom shoe lift you need to start with, but you may need to do some adjusting and over time you should remember that your custom shoe lift measurements could change over time.books


Most frequent questions and answers

Starting the day, we receive your shoes; most cases take about week to have them ready to ship back to you. *Please check our hour of operation for any holiday closings that may affect the turnaround time on your shoes.

No, you do not. You simply need to know how high of a heel lift or shoe lift you require.

We are accredited by The American Board for Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics. They did an external, independent review of our organization against nationally accepted standards and its own policies, procedures, processes and outcomes.

We always recommend seeing a medical professional to get the correct amount that is going to work best for you. A doctor or chiropractor can measure your leg length difference or you can use blocks of known height to even out the pelvis. This method will give you your functional leg length measurement, but could be different to your actual leg length difference. You can check out our Blog post about it or if you are in the area please stop by and we can measure for you.

Yes, we can remove and restore the shoe to close to original condition

 A Pedorthist is the to title of a professional who has specialized training to modify footwear and employ supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs.

Your credit card will be charged only after your shoe to build up has arrived at our shoe lift facility and your order has been evaluated and any pricing adjustments approved by you.

Our Pedorthist have so much experience that it is very rare we get a shoe we can’t add an internal heel lift or an external custom shoe lift too. You can email a picture of the shoe and we can let you know if it’s a good chose or not.

Yes, we do a lot of external custom shoe lift or internal heel lifts less that 1/4″. Mostly on sandals or flip flops.

In most cases we try to match the existing color of the sole. Adding color incorporates into the lift colors matching the upper or part of the upper. (See picture gallery). This works well on athletic shoes and dress shoes. This is used more in higher lifts to minimize the appearance of the lift itself. This is more effective in light colored soles, as the lighter colors tend to be more noticeable. Black and darker colors are less noticeable and, in most cases, don’t require color but can be more attractive if the color matches part of the shoe.

Our craftsman is a Certified Pedorthist with over 30 years’ experience as a shoe repairman as well. A Pedorthist is the title of a professional who has specialized training to modify footwear and employ supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs.

No, unfortunately custom shoe lifts are not a reimbursable expense from insurance companies.

No, we offer free shipping on all of our services accept shoe repair.

Yes, but you would be responsible for shipping.


Leave this field blank