Finding Shoes and Socks that Work Well with an Ankle-Foot Orthosis

September 4, 2019
Hanger Clinic

Proper footwear is essential to making the most of an Ankle Foot Orthosis. Learn how to find shoes and socks that will work with your device.

A properly-fitting shoe is critical to the proper functioning of an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO), and will help ensure comfort as well.

Check with your orthotist regarding their plans for your shoes. Your orthotist may order orthopedic shoes for you, or may ask you to bring a variety of shoes to your fitting appointment so that together you can find which pair(s) works best.

Choosing the Right Shoes

  • A removable insole and wide toe box will allow more room inside for the orthosis
  • Shoe ties or straps and an extended shoe tongue make it easier to put shoes on over the brace
  • Canvas shoes can be altered to allow more room in the toe box by snipping a few of the threads connecting the toe box to the tongue
  • Shoes that come up over the ankle, like high-tops, may offer better heel and ankle support, but could interfere with some AFO designs. Check with your orthotist for more guidance.

Orthopedic shoe brands that are specially designed to be worn with orthoses include Answer2 and Keeping Pace, but most athletic shoe brands have options that will work.

Depending on your device, you may need to go up a size or more.  Be careful not to go too large, though–the shoe is fitting properly if it’s comfortable to wear but requires effort to push the braced foot in the shoe.

If you wear an orthosis on only one side, a different size of shoe for each of your feet may be best. Your orthotist will make sure your legs are the same length while standing and wearing your brace, which may require a custom insole for your shoe on the non-braced side, so keep that in mind when choosing shoes, too. Some stores offer split shoe size deals.

Choosing the Right Socks

Moisture-wicking, seamless socks work best with AFOs. Specialized socks are available, but most snug-fitting cotton blend tube socks will work, too. Be sure to choose socks that offer a comfortable fit when paired with your AFO.

For a more discreet look, athletic socks can be worn inside out and folded down over the orthosis to give the appearance of a typical sock.

Request a Free Evaluation

If you need to be fit with an AFO or other brace, get in touch with a board certified orthotist at a Hanger Clinic near you.

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