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Significant Leg Length Difference

meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
edited October 2016 in Training, fitness and health
My son had major surgery following bone cancer in his pelvis when he was 13. Now he's 18, his left leg is significantly shorter (50mm?) than his right and he has a dropped foot due to nerve damage.

He likes cycling and I plan to get him in for a quality bike fit as soon as I can with someone who really knows their stuff but in the meantime I'm looking for ways to try to balance things up for him. Currently his right leg is doing most of the work but doesn't extend properly because of the saddle height compromise.

Any ideas as to practical ways to sort this? I was thinking a much shorter left crank might be an idea. He currently rides with flat pedals so their might be something I could do there too.
ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH

Posts

  • lancewlancew Posts: 680
    You could get around it by changing the stack height in a set of SPD SL's?

    Maybe put an insole into the shoe to further adjust the stack height? Could you put a washer type element between the shoe and the cleat?
    Specialized Allez Sport 2013
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    He currently doesn't use cleats of any sort - nor a cage - because he has limited control over his left foot positioning due to the nerve damage. There's a bit we can do with shoes but not much.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • giropaulgiropaul Posts: 414
    There is a fair bit that shoes can do apart from thicker soles also, some riders has pedals with different cage height - Tony Doyle for one. TA used to do these pedals, but any tool shop could do a modification. Different length cranks can help as well
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    A guy in my club has one leg shorter than the other - I don't know all the details but he has a big stack of these (or something similar) between one of his shoes and cleat:
    http://www.sigmasport.co.uk/item/Bikefi ... e-Shim/MH4

    He's actually an Osteopath who also does bike fitting - this is his web page:
    http://www.bfosteo.london/bike-fit.html

    He's not been doing fitting that long (couple of years now) but certainly has a passion for it and has been on all sorts of courses to learn his stuff.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Thanks, TW - I might contact the guy. I could make a cleat shim out of nylon or something similar but, as above, he doesn't use cleats because he doesn't have great muscular control over that foot. The surgeons literally removed most of his pelvis above the hip joint and sent it to another site where it was nuked by high-energy X-rays, killing both the tumour and the bone. They then put the bone back and zipped him up in an 11-hour operation. Unfortunately his sciatic nerve was damaged which left him with no feeling or movement in the top of his foot or front of his shin (a dropped foot). The lack of growth in that side of his pelvis means his leg is significantly "shorter" (it actually just starts higher up).

    Cycling is one of the few sports he can now do (having been a keen and capable footballer and tennis player before the cancer). I'm keen to do all I can for him to help him enjoy it.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Mailed Scherrit at The Bike Whisperer and they're very keen to see him and help him out. The logistics of getting a boy from Cambridge and a bike from Inverness together in outer London is a bit of a challenge but nothing too much
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    It might be crude but how about 2 or even 3 flat pedals fixed together? That way you keep the grip of the pedal. Might see him through until the bike fit.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Yes - I was looking at it today and thinking I could weld something up to do that job
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • adlopaadlopa Posts: 37
    I'm in a not dissimilar position, thanks to a fused/bolted left ankle and an inflexible dropped foot due to lost tendons (road accident years ago) — though my legs are equal lengths. I use a hefty angled stack of shims under my left cleat and a flat stack under my right to balance the hips, and it works fine for me. Maybe that and some combo of different crank lengths would help? I'd be inclined to start with a clued-up bike fitter to avoid knee/hip problems from a DIY solution, though.
  • Heel lifts are desinged to sort this out. you use mini stacks to adjust the height of each foot seperatly until its matches.
  • Is this something to do with having one foot smaller than the other?
  • andcpandcp Posts: 644
    Is this something to do with having one foot smaller than the other?
    Did you read the OP?
    "It must be true, it's on the internet" - Winston Churchill
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,696
    Suggestions involving pedal stack is more appropriate when the discrepancy is in the lower limb. Crank length might be worth looking at as the effect isn't quite the same. However, 50mm is a big discrepancy to work with!

    I know your son doesn't use SPDs but in case anyone else is reading: a recommendation I was given for femoral discrepancy was to adjust the cleats so for the shorter leg it was at the toe end and for the longer leg at the back.

    Best of luck with this, keep asking around as different specialists may have varying solutions or suggestions.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Simon E wrote:
    Suggestions involving pedal stack is more appropriate when the discrepancy is in the lower limb. Crank length might be worth looking at as the effect isn't quite the same. However, 50mm is a big discrepancy to work with!

    I know your son doesn't use SPDs but in case anyone else is reading: a recommendation I was given for femoral discrepancy was to adjust the cleats so for the shorter leg it was at the toe end and for the longer leg at the back.

    Best of luck with this, keep asking around as different specialists may have varying solutions or suggestions.

    Thanks. Yes, it's a considerable difference made a bit more complex, as you say, because it's effectively a hip joint position difference. I'd get him across to The Bike Whisperer now that my son's back at Cambridge but they've suspended bike fitting as they're expecting a baby around now.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    Surely if you increase stack height, you ll put greater strain on the hip joint as the hip angle will close up ?

    a friend of mine who used a chain saw to shorten his leg! used a shorter crank (once he returned to work) back then it was a steel weld job but Hipath engineering do something with alloy arms, also do a kit to bolt to an existing arm to experiment with.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    mamba80 wrote:
    Surely if you increase stack height, you ll put greater strain on the hip joint as the hip angle will close up ?

    No - because all you'll do is raise the pedal position up to meet the (relatively higher) hip position on that side. The best way to imagine the problem is being canted over on the saddle - the legs are actually the same length but where the hip joins the pelvis is higher.

    In fact the hip angle is probably too tight on his "good" side as the saddle height is a compromise.

    I'll get him some professional and expert help. He's been through more [email protected] than most of us will experience (thankfully) in a lifetime.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
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