Do you have a child that has been diagnosed with flat feet, overpronation, or low muscle tone? Has your physical or occupational therapist recommended that your child wears a pair of AFO braces and you are having a hard time finding shoes that can accommodate the braces?
AFO braces take a look of space inside a shoe, but there are certain shoe styles that have proven to be able to accommodate them better, and I will show you which ones they are shortly.
AFO stands for an “Ankle Foot Orthotic” and it is a special brace that serves the purpose of controlling the motion of the ankle joint and also offer support to the foot.
I always explain to parents that the shoes and the orthotics work together in helping children walk and run straighter. This means that you can get a very supportive AFO brace, but if the shoes are not fitting properly, your child won’t get any of the benefits that the braces have to offer.
I am an expert when it comes to shoe fitting since I have worked at a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years, where we specialize in children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well.
I have noticed that they key to properly fit a pair of AFO braces in kids’ shoes is to find shoes that provide these 3 important features:
✅ Extra Depth
✅ Round Toe-Box
✅ Wider Opening
For example, the deeper the shoe is, the deeper the brace will fit inside the shoes. A shoe that is deep will prevent the top part of your kids’ feet from rubbing against the top part of the shoe, and it will also prevent your kids’ heels from moving up an down the shoes.
Let me prove this to you…
Let’s take a look at the two pictures below showing the difference between a deep pair of shoes versus one that is not. In the Nike shoe style (black and red) we can see how the orthotic is raised up and not fitting deep enough, and in the New Balance shoe style (blue and black) the orthotic is fitting deeply inside the shoe.
I will expand on what other features the shoes must provide shortly.
I always recommend parents to provide their kids with shoes that come with shoelaces instead of Velcro closure, especially if you need to fit a pair of AFO braces.
The main reason for this is that shoelaces will provide more support and more stability to your kids’ feet, and while most parents prefer to provide their kids with Velcro closure shoes, a pair of shoelaces will make a big difference in helping your child walk and run straighter. Shoelaces will also secure your kids’ heels against the back of the shoes, preventing them from moving up and down.
You should definitely consider taking that extra time and provide your child with a pair of shoelaces so your child can get the full benefits that the orthotics have to offer.
While I always recommend parents to take their children to their local children’s shoe store to be properly fitted for shoes, I have been helping parents find their kids’ shoes online for the last 3 years since most children’s shoe stores have been closing down.
Some of the most popular questions parents ask about their children’s AFO braces are:
Where can I buy shoes to fit my child’s AFO braces?
What’s the best shoe style to fit AFO braces?
Do I have to purchase two different shoe sizes?
Before I show you a selection of the best shoes that fit AFO braces, let’s first take a look at what features these shoes will provide to your child’s feet. I will also provide an selection of stylish shoes that your child can wear with the AFOs. These involve Mary Jane’s, boots, and casual sneakers.
Shoes that Fit AFO Braces – The 5 Most Important Features!
Let me dig a little deeper in the 5 key features that your kids’ shoes must provide in order be able to accommodate the AFO:
✅Extra Depth: We went over this feature already.
✅Round Toe-Box: Shoes with rounder toe-boxes will prevent the brace from poking a hole in the front of the shoes.
✅ Wider Opening: This feature will prevent you from shoving your child’s foot in the shoes every time you have to put your kids’ shoes on. Certain shoes come with a zipper on the back or in the side which will allow you to open-up the shoe widely. Let’s take a look at a pair of boots that come with a zipper on the back:
✅ Substantial Sole: This feature will cushion your kids’ feet and minimize the impact that your kids’ feet and legs take when they come in contact with the ground. A substantial sole will also hold the AFO brace in place.
✅Firm Heel Counter: The heel counter is the back part of the shoe that provides ankle support. This feature will cushion and protect your kids’ ankles and provide lateral stability and ankle support. If you are not sure where the heel counter of the shoe is located, please take a look at the picture below for clarification:
If we find a shoe that provides all of those features, the AFO braces will fit perfectly inside your kids’ shoes.
Let’s take a look at what benefits a pair of supportive shoes with AFO’s will provide for your child:
? Help correctly develop your kids’ feet, ankles and joints.
? Improve your kids’ posture.
? Help your kids walk and run straighter.
? Prevent your kids from toe walking.
? Minimize the impact on your kids’ feet and legs when they are playing high intense activities.
? Help maintain balance.
? Reduce muscle strain and fatigue.
While a pair of AFO braces will provide all of those features to your child, there is something I want you to keep in mind: It doesn’t matter how many features a particular shoe style provides, if the shoes are not fitted properly, your child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer.
I always recommend parents to take their children to be properly fitted for shoes at their local kids’ shoe store, the issue is that most stores have been closing down and parents don’t have a place to take their kids to be properly fitted for shoes.
Start by taking a look at a map I created where I describe the best children’s shoe stores by state. Please go to the link below.
If after looking at that map you still can’t seem to find a good fitting kids’ shoe store in your area, then take a look at an article I wrote where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home:
Now that you know what features a good shoe must provide for your child’s feet and how to make sure that your child is wearing the correct shoe size, I will provide you with a selection of the best shoes that fit AFO braces.
The Best Shoes That Fit AFO Braces ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Please keep in mind that I only write reviews of shoe styles that I have fitted before, so I can personally assess how well-made they are, the amount of support that they provide, and how well they fit.
Here you can find a selection of the best shoes that fit AFO braces. All of these shoes provide the features that I mentioned above and come with a removable insole.
Shoes can fit short, long, narrow, or wide, and depending on how they fit you will need to adjust the size that you get for your child.
This shoe styles fit “true to size” which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the standard foot measuring scale (Brannock device) in order to allow for growing room. However, because AFO braces take so much space inside the shoe, you should consider getting a whole size longer instead of a half a size.
If you have a baby who is just starting to walk or a toddler that needs a pair of AFO braces, there is one particular shoe style that I have fitted before and has proven to work the best for children who wear AFO braces. You can find that shoe style below:
This shoe style also fits “true to size”, which means that you need a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
Usually children who wear AFOs end up wearing basic sneakers with not much excitement, since parents are not able to find anything on trend or that are fun for children. This is life and most agree that there could be worse problems. However, this doesn’t need to be the case anymore.
There is a particular shoe company that offers contemporary fashion and stylish shoes as well as well-engineered design. This she company manufactures fashion shoes that are specifically designed to work with your kids’ AFOs. Below you can find a couple of examples of how their shoes look like, and by clicking on the image you will redirected to their website where you will be able to see a larger selection of shoes.
Please keep in mind that there are fashion shoes, which means that your child should not wear them for more than 5 hours a day.
The Best AFO Socks – Seamless and Breathable!
If your child is wearing AFO braces there is a particular type of seamless sock that is soft, durable, wicks perspiration, comes with an anti-microbial fabric and have a heel free design that ensures a perfect fit.
Why do I recommend this particular sock style for kids that wear AFO’s?
This type of sock is made with super soft materials and a design that includes a non-binding Halo Top, which eliminates irritating indentions, as well as reducing slippage on the legs.
If you have been looking for the perfect pair of socks for your child to wear with his or her AFO braces then you have found them right here. Please refresh your browser if you can’t see the recommendations.
Now that you know which are the best shoes and socks for AFO braces you are ready to make the most informed decision.
Please keep in mind that I recommend that your child wears the AFO braces only for an hour or so the first week. Each day try to keep them on a little longer until your child is ready to wear them around 75% of the day.
Do you happen to have a children’s shoe store in your area that you trust? I get contacted by parents on a daily basis asking me if I know about a good children’s shoe store in their area. If you happen to have one, please let us know in the comments section below so we can all benefit from your experiences.