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Is a difference in leg length a problem for an older person?

It can be, depending on how great the difference is and what physical condition the person is in. Researchers recently attempted to determine how much discrepancy could become a problem using a set of healthy participants age 55 to 86.

Small shoe lifts of varing heights were placed in the participant's shoes. Then they walked on a treadmill. Heart rate, muscle activity, oxygen use, and air exchange were monitored.

Researchers found that a 2 cm of leg-length difference had a considerable effect on oxygen use and how hard the walkers felt they were working. Between 2 and 3 cm of difference in leg length made a big difference in most of the factors tested.

This led researchers to conclude that elderly patients with significant cardiac, pulmonary, or musculoskeletal problems might have trouble walking with even 2 cm of difference in leg length.


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