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Shoe Ttips And Suggestions

28 Nov 2019

For Wearers of AFO’s and Foot Orthoses

We encourage feedback from members and parents, and we 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

More 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.
  • 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 support when wearing an AFO or Foot Orthoses. Some Adult sandals have them like the Zierra brand. For children’s shoes, it is very difficult getting sandals with a supportive heel counter, it’s usually just made up of soft neoprene or has a just a strap around the back of the heel, as a suggestion, perhaps try a light weight sports shoe with a “mesh” fabric that allows 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.  
Cerebral Palsy Society