There are many people who experience some kind of leg length discrepancy. Often, unequal leg length is something a person is born with or sometimes it develops later on in life due to trauma or illness. Whatever the reason, many people need built up shoes to help them feel comfortable, balanced and avoid doing further damage by overloading one hip or knee.
Managed to split the existing sole open and insert a wedge of white eva foam.
If you require a shoe to be built up or raised due to leg length difference and you want it to be as normal looking and as comfy as possible, here are several methods that can help you.
If it is a small difference eg under 10mm you may be able to add an insert under your insole.
Once the difference is over 10mm you are likely going to need to get your shoes altered.
Leg length discrepancy will usually be addressed by having one shoe raised to make it higher. Generally the shoe for the shorter leg is built up. With certain shoes eg ladies high heels, you can have one lowered and one raised. This keeps them looking good and they stay more comfy vs having one super high heel.
Cut the existing sole open and insert a wedge of black eva foam.
Do you need a shoe built up due to one leg being shorter than the other? You've come to the right place. Send us a photo of the shoes you have in mind and we will let you know if we think it will turn out well.
Heel lift vs full foot lift vs Taper to toe lift
One of the most common questions we get asked is: what's the difference between a heel lift, a full foot lift, and a taper to toe lift?
It may seem like these three products are largely interchangeable, but in fact they're designed with very different uses in mind. If you're wondering which one is best for your needs, keep reading!
Once sneakers or running shoes are built up or raised they walk really well because the sole starts off curved. The build does make the sole stiffer.
Taper to toe lift
This is the most common shoe build up we do and it provides as much height as you need while still providing a comfortable shoe that walks well and helps keep the weight down and reduce toe catch and tripping. With the taper to toe you might for example raise the heel of the shoe by 25mm, the soles by 18mm and the toe by 9mm. This enables a nice rolling action that gets around the added stiffness of the sole due to the plywood effect of adding layers.
An interesting one as the existing sole is very soft.
This one was added pressure as the customer is a surgeon. Only the heel was raised with a slight flair to the outside for more support.
Heel lifts are designed for people who need to add height a small amount of height or adjust the angle of their ankle to take weight off their achilles tendon. Heel lifts come in different sizes so you can choose which one will give you the greatest benefit. They can be used by anyone as long as it doesn't cause pain when standing or walking.
Full foot lifts
Full foot lifts are designed for people who will be standing still alot at a bench or machine. They help support the body weight while standing or walking. They often suit where lots of lifting will be done
There are two main ways to build shoes up.
The first is to add onto the bottom of the shoe. The second is to cut the existing sole open and insert a layer or layers of material to get the correct height and then replace the existing sole.
There are pros and cons for both. Adding onto the bottom of your shoe is sometimes a cheaper option but it can make the shoe look unattractive. If you don't mind this aesthetic, it may be easier on your wallet to go with this option. Sometimes adding on is the only option as the sole is not thick enough to cut open.
On the other hand, it's possible that even though cutting into your sole will cost more, it's worth it because of how much more natural your shoe will look once it's done. Most times you’ll end up keep the existing tread pattern which makes the look, feel and grip more even.
The buildup must be durable enough to withstand the force of walking while being flexible and soft and light enough to maintain comfort.
What shoes can be built up or raised?
All types of footwear can be built up; it just depends on the height you need, and whether you will be running, walking or standing. The build-up in shoes can be made out of many different materials. EVA or sneaker midsole is the most common as it is lightweight and can be machined with ease. Also the look needs to be considered, if it is a dress shoe it needs to look great. If it is a work boot it needs to be extra durable.
Best shoes for leg length discrepancy modifications
What shoes are most suitable for building up?
Sneakers or running shoes are the best shoes across all the points to consider ... apart from looks if you are after a dressy look. Once a sneaker is built up or raised, it walks really well because the sole starts off curved. The build does make the sole stiffer.
We are compiling a list of the best shoe brands for people with leg length discrepancy so that you don't have to spend hours trying to find the perfect pair.
Best Shoe Brands for Leg Length Discrepancy
Asics makes gorgeous, comfortable running shoes with a variety of styles and colors that can be customised to accommodate leg length discrepancy modification. You can choose from any pair on their site and choose alterations based on the specific needs of your feet. Smiths Sports Shoes has an amazing customer service team who are more than willing to help you navigate their website as you search for your perfect pair. Don’t stress about gel cushions, we can work around them. But skip airbags.
Sketches creates beautiful shoes that come in a myriad of colours and styles. They also make both men's and women's shoes! In order to accommodate leg length discrepancy modifications,most shops will allow you to take the shoes to us on appro to check we can perform the mods you need.
Also many styles of dress shoes and boots can be successfully raised. Work boots and gumboots while challenging can also be raised and work out very well.
Worst shoes for build ups
What shoes are least suitable for building up?
Flat heavy stiff shoes are least suitable. Think skateboarding or basketball shoes. They end up clumpy.
Summary of options for shoe build up to address leg length difference
Hopefully this has helped you to understand the options available if you need to have a shoe raised.
Getting shoes modified to address a leg length difference is important to both comfort and safety. The last thing you want is an uneven amount of weight being applied to your body over a long period of time. This can lead to knee, hip or lower back problems down the road.
Hopefully this will help you keep both you and your joints pain free. Don't give up, do your research, talk to your doctor or specialist and make sure they help you decide how much of a build up you need.
Shane Barr Shoe Repairs offers innovative specialist shoe repairs to new and worn shoes and boots. Shane Barr brings over twenty years of experience to his craft and guarantees you'll be loving our service and your repairs.
Our Service Area
Tauranga | Mt Maunganui | Papamoa | Pyes Pa | Te Puke | Matamata | Whakatane | Rotorua | Waihi |Taupo
We also do mail order repairs for the rest of NZ.