Leg length discrepancy (LLD), or a difference in length between the lower limbs, is sometimes thought to be associated with inefficient movement patterns or low-back pain. Findings published in Studies in Health Technology and Informatics (2012; 176, 104–107) suggest otherwise.

First the study’s seven male participants walked barefoot at their own pace. Then they walked while fitted with three different pieces of high-density EVA foam—at thicknesses of 1, 2 and 3 centimeters—underneath the right foot. The layers simulated LLD and its effects on movement kinematics. The study authors used an optoelectronic motion analysis system to record data on movement of the pelvis and spine.

“Differences in range of motion and patterns of movement for the pelvis and lumbar spine were minimal between barefoot and LLD conditions,” the scientists reported. “These observations could be attributed to various kinematic compensatory strategies within the lower limbs.”

The study was small, and further, in-depth investigation is needed.