Do I Have A Short Leg?

Do I Have A Short Leg?


The most important thing you can do is to be evaluated by a structurally focused chiropractor to determine any potential discrepancies between your leg lengths. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you even wear a shoe lift and especially not a HEEL LIFT without taking x-rays.

Heel lifts have been known as a cheap quick “fix” to pain. This can often cause more problems and not address the problem adequately or even at all. It is not uncommon for me or other structurally focused chiropractors to see new patients that have been prescribed heel lifts that were either unnecessary or on the wrong side. Typically this is done by traditional chiropractors who treat a patient’s symptoms only. Traditional chiropractors don’t regularly do a thorough full spine x-ray evaluation. Regardless of whether or not your symptoms improve, you should seek a second opinion from a structurally focused chiropractor if you’ve been prescribed a heel lift.

How Can You Check For A Short Leg?

If you do in fact have a short leg this can only be ACCURATELY measured by taking x-rays. X-rays should be taken both without a heel lift or shoe lift as well as a Correction Potential X-ray (CPX or stress x-ray). The x-rays are used to determine how your spine and sacrum responded to said heel or shoe lift. X-rays for patients with short legs are also important to determine the appropriate height of any potentially needed shoe lift.

Taking x-rays are VERY important to determine short legs for a number of reasons but even more important is having a structurally focused chiropractor to analyze them. X-rays are a representation of a 3-D object flattened onto a 2-D screen. As a result, there can often be deceptive short legs that are in fact not short but only appear so because of an abnormal rotation in the pelvis. I.e. If you hold up a stick horizontally and shine a light on the stick. The shadow will look straight but if you rotate that stick so one side is closer to the light than the other the shadow will appear higher on one side. Even though the stick is still perfectly horizontal it looks like one side is higher.

The same forced perspective effect happens with your hips during an x-ray. To make sure your chiropractor is treating the hip rotation that is causing you low back pain and not an apparent short leg, make sure he/she is a structurally focused chiropractor. For more on the different types of chiropractors CLICK HERE.

What Lift Does Corrective Chiropractic Use?

Corrective Chiropractic prescribes full-length foot lifts when indicated by exam and x-ray. These Shoe lifts are made of an easily cleanable, non-compressible vinyl, available in 1mm peel-able increments. They consist of six, one-millimeter layers of vinyl that allow your chiropractor to prescribe the exact height necessary to adjust the height of the lift to suit your needs.
They are available in a wide range of both men’s and women’s sizes to fit your exact shoe size. Full-length shoe lifts provide benefits over the commonly prescribed Heel Lifts. Using full foot lifts allow your chiropractor to correct leg length inequalities (short legs) or discrepancies without changing ankle angulation or increasing plantar flexion of the foot. These discrepancies can result in abnormal weight distribution and pelvic rotation.
With a full foot lift the foot remains level because the whole foot is lifted as a platform, and changes in forefoot pressure and heel cord tightness that result because of ankle plantar flexion are avoided. Full foot lifts are used to address both acquired or functional leg length discrepancies, as well as anatomical discrepancies.

Do I Need Specific Shoes?

Most shoes will allow for a six to eight-millimeter shoe lift before it becomes uncomfortable and cramped in the shoe. If that’s the case the shoe lift may also be trimmed back at the toes a layer or two so there is ample room in the shoe. Some people do not feel comfortable with anything more than four millimeters in their shoe because their toes feel cramped. For patients who can’t wear shoe lifts due to toe crowding or they have a short leg length above six to eight millimeters, a specialized shoe may be required. In these cases, your own shoes can be altered to install the appropriate size lift onto the short leg sole.

Lifts may be trimmed and cut to fit different shoe shapes but be careful to avoid over trimming. Remember the foot lift should support your whole foot. A heel lift alone could cause problems instead of correcting them.

How To Use Your New Shoe Lift

  • Start slow.

    • Add one layer (1mm) a week to avoid changing to fast and causing pain.
    • If your current symptoms are acute or severe start wearing your shoe lift for just a few hours a day.
    • Some people can tolerate and even respond very well (immediate reduction in symptoms) to adding more layers faster. If that’s you it’s okay to leave it in longer or add more layers faster than 1mm per week.
    • Think of structural chiropractic care like having braces on your teeth. It takes time to adjust to your teeth or vertebrae moving. Sometimes there is some mild soreness similar to muscle soreness from exercise.
  • If it hurts tell your chiropractor.

    • It’s not uncommon for there to be some soreness or discomfort in your low back, hips buttocks etc. as your body gets used to being in a more normal posture.
    • Is it in the correct shoe? Don’t roll your eyes. I’ve had more than one patient complain of exacerbating symptoms that were caused because they added another layer to their shoe lift. Some have also ended up putting it on the wrong side!
    • Don’t try to just push through any discomfort. No pain no gain is not a good mantra when it comes to your shoe lift.
  • Where them with ALL your footwear.

    • You should consider your shoe lift as a part of your body. For whatever reason, there was a congenital anomaly or injury. More likely your spine was shifted out of place and your bones did not form equally due to an abnormal loading being placed on them during growth (#chiropracticforkids). As a result, you require this additional lift in your shoe. Your shoe lift provides a stable base for your weight being distributed evenly on your feet, ankles, knees, hips, pelvis and sacrum (low back). Without it, you are going to be prone to low back pain, hip pain, SI joint pain, sciatica, knee pain, foot pain, etc. due to the unequal stress being placed on these structures. This shoe lift is essential to keep you properly aligned.


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