There were shock absorbing structures within the landing legs. If the primary shock absorbing strut would be maximally compressed by a hard landing, the lower end of the ladder would be directly above the foot pad.
PRIMARY STRUT The upper end of the primary strut is attached to the
outboard end of the outrigger; the lower end has a ball joint for the
footpad. The strut is of the piston-cylinder type; it absorbs the
compression load of the lunar landing and supports the LM on the lunar
surface. Compression loads are attenuated by a crushable
aluminum-honeycomb cartridge in each strut. Maximum compression length
of the primary strut is 32 inches. The aluminum honeycomb has the
shock-absorbing capability of accepting one lunar landing. This may
include one or two bounces of the LM, but after the full weight of the
LM is on the gear, the shock-absorbing medium is expended. Use of
compressible honeycomb cartridges eliminated the need for
thick-walled, heavyweight, pneudraulic-type struts.
From APOLLO NEWS REFERENCE
QUICK REFERENCE DATA by Grumman.
102:19:19 Aldrin: Roger. AGS residuals: (X) minus 0.1, (Y) minus 0.2,
(Z) minus 0.7 (feet per second). And we used the PGNS Noun 86 for
Delta-VZ which was 9.5, versus yours which was 9.1, and I believe that
may explain the difference (between the minus 0.7 residual in AGS
versus minus 0.1 for the PGNS). Apogee 57.2, perilune 9.1; Sun check
to three marks; Noun 20 minus Noun 22, plus 0.19, plus 0.16, plus
This quote from the Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal with the very low 3D landing speeds prove a remarkable soft landing.
The landing gear was designed for a much harder landing:
The landing gear can withstand: ( 1) a 10-foot/ second vertical
velocity of the LM when the horizontal velocity is zero feet/second,
(2) a 7-foot/second vertical velocity with a horizontal velocity not
exceeding 4 feet/second, and (3) a vehicle attitude within 6° of the
local horizontal when the rate of attitude change is 2°/second or
So Armstrong used only 7 % of the maximal vertical landing speed, that is less than 0.5 % of the maximal kinetic energy. This remarkable soft landing did not compress the honeycomb cartridges at all.
Here is a comparison of the vertical and horizontal landing speeds of Apollo 11, 12, 14 and 15: