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Stylish & Supported: How to Shop for Shoes with AFO Braces

Wearing good shoes is about more than avoiding occasional blisters—our feet affect our whole bodies, from the function of our toes to the alignment of our spines. But when we start the process of creating advanced custom braces or ankle foot orthosis (AFO) to correct biomechanical problems, many patients fear that their footwear fashion options will be limited. After all, we can’t deny that shoes make a big difference when it comes to our sense of style and confidence!

At Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates, we use the latest laser scanning and gait plate technology to create AFO braces and orthotics with the smallest possible profile. So while you may have to make some adjustments to your wardrobe, you won’t be doomed to a pair of “orthopedic” shoes that don’t fit your aesthetic.

Choosing shoes that will support your biomechanics and your style doesn’t have to be an impossible task. With this guide, you can strut your stuff while prioritizing your health—no fashion faux pas necessary.

What Shoes Go with AFO Braces?

Let’s start with what shoes don’t go with AFO braces: high heels, wedges, and any shoes with a narrow toe are automatically out. But don’t fret. Today’s trends are actually overwhelmingly orthotic-friendly if you know what you’re looking for.

Removable Insoles

Whether you’re shopping for boots or ballet flats, check your shoes for removable insoles or footbeds before you head to check out. You’ll need to be able to remove these items to fit your brace comfortably inside and give your foot plenty of space.

You’ll also need a little extra depth to accommodate your brace, so keep this in mind as you browse. Plenty of orthopedic shoe brands are made specifically for extra depth.

Wide-Fit Sizes & Roomy Toe Boxes

Though physical stores may not carry as many wide-fit sizes in their inventory, our friend the internet has opened up a world of shoes with extra room. Some people with braces may want to choose a size up from their normal foot size, but for many others, simply choosing a shoe marked “W” is enough. Make sure to buy from online retailers with easy return policies just in case!

We’ve found trendy wide-width shoes from these brands:

  • Torrid: This brand offers both wide and extra-wide boots, sneakers, and sandals.
  • Sam Edelman: If you can avoid the high-heeled choices, you’ll find a range of wide-fit flats, boots, and mules here.
  • ASOS: Focused on the latest trends, this brand has a great selection of flat, wide-fit shoes for any fashionista.

Also, be aware of the width of the toe box—any shoes that are too narrow or pointy may not be able to fit your brace (besides, they can place a lot of unnecessary pressure on your toes!).

Flexible Materials

Your new shoes are no good if they won’t be flexible enough to fit over your AFO brace and give your foot the room it needs to move and bend properly. Look for materials that are soft and supple, like leather or suede for dress shoes and lycra for athletic shoes. Rubber soles tend to be the most flexible—and they can help prevent slips and falls for those with balance issues.

Women’s boots can be tricky, but not impossible, to find in flexible varieties. The popular shoe shopping site Zappos has a search feature that allows you to filter for boots with a wide- and extra-wide calf, as well as adjustable varieties! We also recommend looking for boots with a full-length zipper for maximum accessibility—in fact, a zipper is a great feature for any type of shoe you wear with a brace.

Flat Heels

Whether you’re searching for shoes for a wedding or a weekend in the woods, it’s important to look for flat-heeled varieties. A lot of our patients enjoy the way high heels can extend the look of the leg—but these days, there are plenty of flat options that can give you a little extra height. Enter: The Flatform.

Flat, platform soles can be a great high heel alternative when chosen carefully. Not every “flatform” shoe is going to be ideal for custom orthotics or AFO braces, but with a height under 2-3 inches, you can make a statement safely.

How do I make my AFO brace more comfortable?

If your AFO brace is uncomfortable, difficult to fit shoes over, or otherwise impeding your everyday life, then something needs to change! Your AFO shouldn’t cause you any discomfort as it does the work of correcting your gait and improving your mobility.

At Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates, we have a number of tips and tricks to ensure that your custom orthotic or AFO brace is comfortable—including getting the most accurate fit with our imaging technology.

Our advanced custom orthotics and orthosis are made using incredible imaging technology that gets the most precise image possible of your foot’s anatomy. This allows us to provide you with a 3D printed orthotic or AFO brace that gives you the exact amount of support you need without any added bulk or weight. Many patients find that with this type of device, shopping for stylish and supportive shoes is a breeze!

Discover the Difference: Advanced Custom Orthotics & AFO Braces in Commerce Township, MI

If you’ve been suffering from foot pain or ankle pain, or if you have other joint and mobility issues that you suspect could be a result of your gait, don’t hesitate to call Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates to get answers! Our advanced imaging technology is at the leading edge of podiatric advancements, allowing us to customize a solution suited to your needs. To schedule an appointment, call (248) 452-2028 or reach out online!


It’s Time To Leave Foot & Ankle Pain Behind!

Monday 8:30am – 5:00pm
Tuesday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday 8:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday 9:00am – 6:00pm
Friday 7:30 am – 4:00pm
Saturday – Closed –
Sunday – Closed –

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