Shoe Tips And Suggestions (Updated)

19 Dec 2019

For Wearers of AFOs and Foot Orthoses

Do you or your children wear AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthoses) or Foot Orthoses such as insoles? Have you spent hours scouring the shops or online to find shoes that fit?

We know this is an ongoing problem . The Cerebral Palsy Society have put together some information to make it easier for you to source supportive footwear for AFO and foot Orthoses users.

Here you will find more about suggested footwear styles, footwear outlets and what features to look for in supportive, accommodative footwear. You will also find out some useful footwear tips and tricks, what to footwear would be beneficial, and what to avoid.

Sara Sheehan
Products and Programmes Manager and Qualified Orthotist.

We encourage feedback from members and parents, and will actively update the list.

Please send your footwear suggestions to


DISCLAIMER: The Cerebral Palsy Society of NZ provides this information in good faith and are general suggestions only.
Please check with your Orthotist/Podiatrist for individual advice.

Shoe Tips – What to look for

To ensure your child has the most support in his/her footwear, look for shoes with the following traits:

Shopping tips

  • You may want to shop without your child. Take the brace with you and try fitting it into the shoe. You can often buy shoes, take them home for a relaxed fitting session and return or exchange them if needed. (Check the store policy first)
  • For online shopping, consider ordering a couple of sizes, then return the shoes that don’t work out. (Check the returns policy first.)
  • Once you find a brand you like, go to that specific brand again for a dependable fit.

Trying the shoe on

  • Remove the insole layer that comes with the shoe.
  • Find the smallest shoe that can hold the brace. You may have to push the brace into the shoe before the heel drops in. Use a fairly good push to get the brace down into the shoe box. This extra work means the shoe will be only slightly longer than normal. If the brace slides into the shoe too easily, the shoe may be too large and your child may trip.
  • A shoe horn helps get the braced foot into the shoe.

To help the fit

  • Consider slightly altering the shoe, especially in canvas shoes with a sewn, overlapped toe box.
  • Try snipping a few threads that hold the toe box closed around the attached end of the tongue.

Only one brace?

If your child wears a brace on only one foot, you and your practitioner can discuss the following options:

  • The brace will slightly increase the length (height) of the leg it’s on. To maintain even leg height:
  • If the shoes come with a removable flat insole, remove it from the braced side, flip it over, and add it to the un-braced side.
  • For a bulkier brace, you may need two different shoe sizes — one for the un-braced foot and a larger size for the braced foot.
  • For more room, consider altering the braced foot’s toe box (as shown above in the fitting tips).

The above information is Courtesy of Cascade Dafo, Inc.

Click Here to download the list of shoe brands suggestions

General Footwear Tips:

  • Women – Can’t find wide enough sports shoes? Check out the men’s sports shoes. They are the same shoe but made on a wider last, although you may need to go down a size.
  • For Adults that only wear an AFO on one side, check the split-sized ‘Ascent 11’ footwear. You can buy two different sizes for Left and Right feet. – your local Shoe Clinic may be able to order them for you.
  • Switch out the laces for bungie elastic lacing or look for Velcro fastening for getting shoes easily on and off. If needed, ask your local shoe repairer/cobbler to stitch on an extra piece of Velcro to the straps to extend the length.
    • Hallensteins have silicon lacing system, to find out more – Click Here
    • You can get magnetic closures called Zubits at Adaptive footwear, to find out more – Click Here
  • Look for the opening of the shoe to be as far down towards the toe as possible. This will enable the shoe to open wider to accommodate an AFO or foot orthoses.
  • A firm heel counter on the back of the shoe will help prevent the shoe-back collapsing when the AFO is being taken in and out of the shoe.
  • Look for a forefoot rocker on the shoe (this is when the front of the shoe curves upwards) – most sports shoes have one. This can be beneficial, and may help the toes clear the ground when the foot is swinging through when walking.
  • If you have bought expensive shoes and they are still a good fit but the soles have worn out quickly, take them to your local cobbler or shoe repairer and ask for a sole re-balance and repair using a hard-wearing top-sole. This may be cheaper than buying new again.
  • A wide heel base like a sports shoe or square-heeled shoe gives increased stability (medially and laterally) when walking.
  • Sandals – Look for a closed back on the sandal rather than a strap as this gives better supportive when wearing an AFO or Foot Orthoses. Some Adult sandals have them like the Zierra brand. For childrens shoes, it is very difficult getting children’s sandals with a supportive heel counter, its usually just made of soft neoprene or has just a strap around the back of the heel, as a suggestion, perhaps try a light weight sports shoe with mesh ‘upper’ fabric that allows some breathability in the material whilst still giving good support to the AFO and wearer.

Footwear to Avoid When Wearing AFO’s and Foot Orthoses:

  • Slip on shoes. (Some sports shoes are slip on). There is no adjustability in the shoe for fitting foot orthoses or AFO’s
  • High heeled footwear. The higher the heel the more pressure on the metatarsal area on the foot (ball of the foot), and high heels are unstable when walking.
  • Low back-height footwear creates heel slippage when wearing foot orthoses or AFO’s.
  • Ballet flats style shoes. Shoes that you can twist in your hands are non-supportive. A more stable shoe gives better support to the foot orthoses or AFO and ultimately you when walking.

We encourage feedback from members and parents, and will actively update the list.

Please send your footwear suggestions to


Parent comments Parent pictures sent in Footwear details

“The article on shoes helped me so much! This has always been a really hard task for us as her feet are so small and AFO’s a good 1-2 sizes bigger. Only ones that have worked so far for me are NB new balance wide fit.
But for a cheaper option – Kmart has these sandals that come completely apart, back, front and sides $17

I seem to just always be searching for shoes and when I find ones that fit I sometimes buy two pairs – in current size and one after so I don’t have to go searching again when she gets new AFO’s” v

Kmart Junior Adjustable Closed Toe Sandals


I stopped wearing Chuck Taylors because I just got so frustrated having to do up laces all the time – especially when in a hurry to get out the door….

But now Zubits are Here

I am seriously impressed with how well they stick and how easily they adapt your old shoes into something that makes life just that little bit easier ❤

Get yours at: