The Standing Block Test: A Practical Solution for Measuring Leg Length Differences at Home

Leg length discrepancy (LLD) is a condition where one leg is shorter than the other, which can lead to various health issues, including back pain, hip problems, and gait abnormalities.  In fact, an army study once concluded that 32% of army recruits had an LLD of 0.5 CM to 1.5CM and 4% had a difference of more than 1.5CM.  Traditionally, measuring this difference requires a visit to a doctor’s office, often involving X-rays and other diagnostic tools. However, the standing block test offers a practical, cost-effective, and immediate alternative that you can perform at home. This method not only empowers you to take control of your health but also provides a functional assessment of your leg length difference, which can be more beneficial than the actual measurement obtained through medical imaging.

The Benefits of the Standing Block Test

1. Immediate Availability: One of the most significant advantages of the standing block test is its immediacy. Unlike scheduling an appointment with a doctor, which can take days or even weeks, the standing block test can be performed as soon as you suspect a leg length discrepancy. This allows you to address your concerns without delay.

2. No Need for an Appointment: Visiting a doctor’s office requires time and effort. You need to book an appointment, possibly take time off work, and commute to the medical facility. The standing block test eliminates these hassles, enabling you to measure your leg length difference in the comfort of your home at any convenient time.

3. You Know Your Body Best: While doctors are trained professionals, you are the expert on your own body. Performing the standing block test allows you to feel and observe the balance and alignment changes directly, providing personal insights that might not be immediately apparent to a healthcare provider.

4. Cost-Effective: Medical appointments and diagnostic tests can be expensive, even with insurance. The standing block test requires no specialized equipment or professional fees. All you need are blocks of known height (which can be made from items like books or tiles), a flat surface, and possibly a ruler. This makes it an incredibly affordable option.

5. Functional Discrepancy Over Actual Discrepancy: Doctors often use X-rays to measure leg length differences, which provide the actual discrepancy. However, this measurement might not reflect the functional discrepancy — the difference in how your body perceives and compensates for the leg length difference during movement. The standing block test focuses on achieving a balanced and comfortable posture, which can better inform the appropriate size of shoe lift needed for daily activities.

How to Perform the Standing Block Test

Materials Needed:

  • Blocks of known or incremental height (e.g., wooden blocks, hardback books, magazines, or tiles)
  • Flat and firm surface
  • Ruler
  • Full-length mirror (optional)
  • One assistant (optional), a friend or spouse to observe you


  1. Select a Suitable Location: Find a flat and stable surface to perform the test. Ensure the area is clear of any obstacles that might hinder your balance.
  2. Gather Your Blocks: Choose blocks of known height. These could be wooden blocks, hardback books, or tiles. It’s important to know the exact height of each block or be able to measure them accurately.
  3. Prepare Yourself: Stand with a comfortable pair of shoes on a flat surface, maintaining a neutral posture. Keep your feet hip-width apart and your arms relaxed by your sides. It is recommended to do this in your undergarments or tight-forming clothing with your shirt lifted so that the alignment of your hips is clearly visible to you and your assistant.
  4. Identify the Shorter Leg: During the test, you will add blocks to this leg to increase its height.
  5. Place the Blocks: Carefully place one or more blocks under the shorter leg until you feel that your pelvis is even and you are well-balanced. The blocks should be positioned under the foot of the shorter leg, and the whole foot should fit on the block with room to spare on all sides. Adjust the number of blocks until you achieve a balanced sensation. This may require some trial and error. Your assistant can observe you from the rear, side, and front, and you can observe yourself in the mirror.
  6. Step Off the Blocks: Once satisfied with how you feel on the blocks and the observable alignment of your hips and posture, step off the blocks.
  7. Take a Measurement and Analyze: Use a ruler to measure the vertical distance from the ground to the top of the stack of blocks. This measurement provides a baseline for your leg length difference when you’re in a neutral standing position.
  8. Consider Shoe Lift Size: With the measured leg length difference, you can consider the appropriate size for a shoe lift to help balance your pelvis and alleviate discomfort. Keep in mind that functional leg length differences may not always match the measured leg length difference. Starting with a partial correction can help your body adjust gradually.  

Once you’ve determined the shoe lift size you want to start with, getting your shoe modified is a breeze thanks to American Heelers. They have streamlined the process to ensure it’s both simple and convenient. With their extensive experience and specialized skills, American Heelers can modify any shoe with a custom lift tailored to your specific needs. This means you can enjoy the benefits of a perfectly balanced gait without the hassle, knowing that your footwear is in expert hands. Whether you’re dealing with a significant leg length discrepancy or just a minor adjustment, American Heelers provides a reliable and professional solution, allowing you to move comfortably and confidently.