Correcting Leg Length Differences: Shoe Modifications vs. Shoe Lift Inserts

Leg length difference (LLD) is a common condition where one leg is shorter than the other. This discrepancy can be caused by various factors, including congenital conditions, trauma, surgery, or disease. If left uncorrected, LLD can lead to a range of complications such as back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and gait abnormalities. Correcting LLD is crucial for maintaining proper body alignment and overall well-being. Two primary methods are used to address this issue: shoe modifications and shoe lift inserts. This blog post will explore the benefits of shoe modifications versus using shoe lift inserts to correct LLD.

Shoe Lift Inserts: A Temporary Solution

Shoe lift inserts, also known as heel lifts or in-shoe lifts, are placed inside the shoe to raise the shorter leg and help balance leg length. While these inserts can be a quick and relatively inexpensive solution, they come with several drawbacks:

  1. Limited Shoe Compatibility: Shoe lift inserts are not compatible with all types of footwear. Shoes like sandals, flip-flops, and open-toed shoes do not have the ability to securely hold the insert, which can cause it to fall out while walking. This limitation restricts the wearer’s choice of footwear, particularly in warmer climates or during summer months.
  2. Discomfort and Crowding: When an LLD is more than 1/8″, placing a corresponding insert inside the shoe can cause significant crowding. The added height reduces the available space inside the shoe, leading to discomfort and potentially causing the foot to sit awkwardly. This unnatural positioning can lead to additional complications such as foot pain, blisters, and calluses.
  3. Body Compensation: The presence of a foreign object inside the shoe can cause the body to compensate in ways that may lead to further discomfort or pain. The foot may not sit flat, leading to an uneven distribution of weight and pressure. This can result in issues not only in the foot but also throughout the body as it tries to adapt to the altered stance, potentially causing knee, hip, and back pain.

Shoe Modifications: A Comprehensive Solution

Shoe modifications involve altering the sole of the shoe to correct for LLD. This method offers a more permanent and effective solution to balance leg length and provides numerous benefits:

  1. Seamless Integration: Modifying the shoe sole itself creates a seamless transition, ensuring that the lift is part of the shoe rather than an added component. This integration eliminates the issues of inserts falling out or causing discomfort, providing a more stable and comfortable walking experience.
  2. Proper Alignment and Reduced Pain: By incorporating the lift into the shoe sole, the body can achieve proper alignment, which helps to alleviate pain associated with LLD. Correcting the leg length discrepancy through shoe modifications can significantly reduce or eliminate leg, hip, and back pain, allowing the body to return to its natural posture and gait.
  3. Custom Fit and Style: Companies like American Heelers do not sell pre-modified shoes; instead, they work with the shoes customers send in. This approach allows customers to choose shoes that fit them properly and match their personal style. There are no limitations on shoe styles and brands that American Heelers can modify, ensuring that customers can maintain their preferred footwear without compromise.
  4. Durability and Longevity: Shoe modifications are designed to last as long as the shoe itself. Unlike inserts that may wear out or become displaced over time, a modified shoe sole provides a durable and long-lasting solution. This durability ensures that the benefits of the correction are maintained throughout the life of the shoe.
  5. Versatility: With shoe modifications, individuals are not restricted to specific types of shoes. Whether it’s dress shoes, athletic shoes, boots, or casual footwear, the modifications can be applied to a wide range of shoe styles. This versatility allows individuals to wear their favorite shoes without worrying about the limitations imposed by inserts.


When it comes to correcting leg length differences, shoe modifications offer a superior solution compared to shoe lift inserts. The seamless integration of the lift into the shoe sole provides a stable, comfortable, and durable correction that helps to maintain proper body alignment and reduce pain. Additionally, the ability to modify any shoe style and brand ensures that individuals can enjoy their preferred footwear without compromise.

American Heelers specializes in modifying customers’ own shoes, allowing for a custom fit and style. By choosing shoe modifications over inserts, individuals with LLD can experience the numerous benefits of a properly corrected leg length difference, leading to improved comfort, mobility, and overall quality of life.