Boots for AFO Braces – Stylish, Deep, Comfortable, and with a Wider Opening!
Are you having a hard time finding a pair of boots to accommodate your child’s AFOs? Do you feel like you try a whole bunch of different boot styles but you always end up empty handed? Finding a pair of boots for AFO braces can be challenging and time-consuming.
Most people who wear AFO agree that the biggest challenge has always been shoes. One of the most frustrating things about having a child that wears AFOs is how hard it is to find shoes that fit. People truly have no clue what other parents go through to buy something so simple such as shoes for their children that need to wear AFOs until they have to do it themselves.
I have seen parents try several different tricks to make the shoes accommodate the AFOs, such as removing the original soles and the tongue of the shoes. This might work for your child’s regular sneakers, but it won’t work for other types of footwear such as boots or Mary Janes.
As you may know, an AFO is a brace (usually made of plastic) worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankle, hold the foot and ankle in the correct position, and correct foot-drop or other biomechanical problems with the foot:
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AFOs can do wonders in improving your child’s feet, legs, knees, hips, and overall posture, but finding footwear to accommodate the AFOs is another story. Finding a pair of boots for a child who needs to wear a pair of AFOs can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience if you don’t know what shoe styles to look for. Most boots are just simply not designed with orthotics in mind, meaning that they are not wide or deep enough to accommodate all the extra space that a pair of AFOs take inside the shoes.
My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes and AFOs – Over 10 Years of Experience
I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for the last 10 years, working for a specialized children’s shoe store that focuses in children with foot and leg pain, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well. Over the years I became familiar with the best boots for AFO braces.
Families used to bring different boot styles to the store to see if they would work with their child’s AFOs. I tried removing the original insole of the boots and stretching the widest part of the boot, but none of those hacks were successful.
The Challenges of Findings Boots for AFOs
Several parents have told me how they tried short boots, tall boots, cowboy boots, rain boots, duckies, and they all fell flat. Most children’s shoe companies seem to simply not care about children who require special shoes to accommodate their AFOs. It’s cheaper for them to manufacture shoes that come in a standard width to accommodate most foot shapes and save money.
Your children should be able to wear shoes that express confidence. For some children, this involves wearing shoes that can hide the AFO, but I recommend parents explain to their children how the AFO should not hinder self-expression.
Children who wear AFOs want to be as fashionable as their peers. They often struggle with balancing their need to wear fashionable shoes with the clinical need for AFOs. Children lament how having to wear AFOs limit their ability to express themselves through the clothes that they wear.
I have seen parents at the store emphasize to their kids how the AFOs will greatly improve their function, and how that is the most important thing to keep in mind. However, I believe that most parents agree that it should not be this difficult to find shoes that fit!
Most Common Mistakes Parents Make when Buying Boots for the AFOs
One of the most common mistakes parents make when buying boots for their children who wear AFOs is buying boots that are too long in size to allow for extra space for the AFO. This will end up compromising your child’s stability and making your child more prone to falling. Boots that are too long will also allow your child’s feet to move too much inside the boots, and that constant movement and friction between your child’s feet and the shoes might lead to blisters, calluses, and corns.
What Shoe Brands Manufacture Boots for AFO Braces?
Fortunately, I have found a couple of boots from See Kai Run, Billy, Merrell, Keen, and Memo that worked well with AFOs. Some of these shoe companies understand the struggle that parents and children go through when trying to find stylish shoes to accommodate the AFOs.
One of my go-to shoe brands for children who wear AFOs is Memo shoes. This shoe company manufactures boots with substantial outsoles that are equipped with a thermoplastic rigid heel counter for maximum ankle support.
Memo boots come with an adjustable strap length, three hook-and-loop fasteners to hold your child’s AFO and feet in place. The price for these boots ranges from $100 to $125, and I will show you a list of these boots shortly.
All of the boots that I recommend provide extra depth, wider-openings, and some of them come with a zipper opening on the sides.
Before I show you a selection of the best boots for AFO braces, I want to first show you in more detail what features these boots will provide.
Stylish Boots for AFO Braces – The 3 Most Important Features!
I have found that for your kids’ boots to be able to accommodate an AFO they need to provide the 3 following features:
1️⃣ Extra Depth: This feature allows the AFOs to fit deeply inside the boots and prevent the top part of your kids’ feet from rubbing against the top part of the boots.
2️⃣ Round Toe-Boxes: This feature helps prevent the AFO from poking a hole in the front of the shoes and prevents your kids’ toes from rubbing against the side of the boots.
3️⃣ Wider Opening: The boots that I recommend help prevent you from having to struggle every time it’s time to put the boots on and off. Shoes with wider openings make a huge difference when trying to fit an AFO inside the boots.
Now that you know what features these boots will provide, you are ready to take a look at a selection of the best boots for AFO braces. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. This allows us to create free content and resources for many families around the world.
The Best Boots for AFO Braces
Take a look at the description below each boot to find out the additional features the boot provides such as whether it’s waterproof or not and the size that you should order to accommodate the AFOs.
What Boot Size Should You Order?
In each of the descriptions of the boots, I indicate whether you need to order a half size or a whole size bigger than the end of your child’s AFO footplate.
How to Retrieve What Shoe Size Your Child Needs for the AFOs
If you are unsure of what shoe size you should order to accommodate the AFOs I suggest that you take a look at a different article called:
Final Thoughts of Kids Who Wear AFOs
Children have an easier time accepting the AFO when they start noticing how the device normalizes their gait, improves their stability and function. This might overcome some of the cosmetic challenges.
Now you won’t have to add 2 sizes anymore to have your children wear shoes with their AFOs!
I have been contacted by several families and they always tell me how it breaks their hearts when their children ask them about pretty shoes to wear with their dresses. Your child should be able to wear his/her shoes proudly!
What Are the Best Sneakers and Dress Shoes for Kids Who Wear AFOs?
If you are looking for a different type of shoe that your child can wear with his or her AFOs I suggest that you take a look at the articles below:
Have you tried Gracious May’s or Memo boots already? Is there a particular stylish boot that has worked well in accommodating your child’s AFOs? Please share your findings below so other parents can benefit from your experiences!