Measuring for a leg length discrepancy

orange&grey tennis shoe with a external shoe lift
orange&grey tennis shoe with a external shoe lift

Measuring a Leg Length Discrepancy

 

What is a leg length discrepancy?

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-shoe-lift

We always suggest that you get measured for a custom 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.

how to measure for a leg length discrepancy

First, you will need to get several wood blocks 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.

Next place them under the short limb.

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

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.

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) 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 a heel lift versus a lift spanning the entire length of the shoe.

Once you determine how much of a shoe lift you need, you then need to decide how 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 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 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 a better fit and overall function.

Thing to note

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 internal 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 shoe lift you need to start with, but you may need to do some adjusting and over time you should remember that your shoe lift measurements could change over time.

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 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 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 heel lift or external custom shoe 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 move it from shoe to shoe.

But there is a limit as to how much lift 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 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 once again personal preference.

Conclusion

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.