Physical impairments and mobility issues
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What its like to Wear AFO's? Any tips or advice?

NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
AFO's if fitted correctly are great for foot drop, and correcting the position of the feet. As a result they can help improve the biomechanics.

Probably the biggest complaint is that they can make the feet and ankles get very hot, this problem can be improved by having ventilation holes drilled in them! Also wearing a high quality thin sock is important, I wear "coolmax" socks which help loads to keep the temperate down!

Ensuring that the pads are in good condition is vital to reduce the possibility of rubbing. Once rubbing starts they can be unbearable. The pads always have to be replaced to a high standard by a trained technician, but it is worth carrying some emergency repairs with you!

Choosing Shoes, can be very challenging, as they make your feet is also worth noting as the AFO's are solid it is important to find shoes with a springy sole. I have found "Hotter" shoes to be quite good, although always on the look out for shoes that work well with AFO's.

People that wear traditional AFO's often have very small calf muscles, this is because the plastic AFO's normally don't allow the calf muscles to fire, there is some evidence starting to emerge that afo's constructed out of carbon Fibre allows calf muscles to function, and thus regenerate to a degree. Also because carbon fibre is lighter and stronger they can be made smaller, thus improving, ventilation issues and making it more likely that you can fit into a normal size shoe which is obviously much safer. Many of us are very unsteady on our feet so anything that reduces the risk of falls is only a good thing!

Welcome anyone else's experiences with wearing AFO's and what Works for you?

Thanks for reading


  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    Brilliant post! I have worn afos on and off all my life, at the moment I wearing them on both legs during the day.
    Over the years I have worn day and night splints, the most important thing with afos is that they are comfortable and different people have different requirements.
    I have found lots of ways with making sure they are comfortable, like when I get a new pair wearing them in gradually and I still carry a spare pair of orthotic insoles to put in my shoes or boots because I can still have off days with them. I also wear smartknit afo socks, they are specially designed for afos, and don't wrinkle up or have seems so they are really comfortable and help keep you cool.
    I have found buying shoes a nightmare even without afos!! but skate type trainers are good for going over them as they are nice and wide, when it comes to getting smarter styles it is virtually impossible to get them to go over afos, so I wear piedro boots. This really works for me as they come in so many width fittings, and I can get my splints in them easily as they open really far down the boot. I have also found I don't need to go too much bigger to accommodate my splints so I can wear the boots without my afos when I need to.
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    edited July 2014
    Thanks for input "niceboots", Always good to share experience of what works. I'm going to have to try out "Smartknit AFO socks now!

    Good suggestion to carry insoles with you, so that if wearing AFO's becomes too unbearable due to heat or a damaged pad. I can hardly walk without my AFO's now, but still an idea I'm going to use as better to have something on your feet that fits if your AFO's fail!!

    Are your AFO's made specify for you or were they off the shelf?

    Have you ever looked into Carbon Fibre AFO's?
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    My AFO's are made specifically for me as is all my orthotic equipment - off the shelf orthotics don't suit me due to my unusual muscle tone and the forces I put on splints.
    I have never considered carbon fibre AFO's, I have tried all sorts of different ones and favour solid plastic ones as I have found the firm pressure helps with muscle spasms.
    I am very particular when it comes to my AFO's and the materials used, such as I prefer real leather straps and pads that have sheepskin backing as I find it has a little 'give' so it can be worn nice an tight creating an even pressure. I also find that faux leather can cause sweating, creating discomfort.
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    All really good useful helpful information thanks Chris.
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    Just thought I'd add some more points that sprang to mind after my Orthotics appointment yesterday...
    I have had extra padding put on the footplate of my afos, as standing for long periods on hard plastic get uncomfortable after a while. A lot of Orthotists don't think of this!
    It's also important to get straps checked when there are signs of wear and tear - this hadn't really occurred to me until yesterday when I had my splints reviewed whilst being cast for a new one. My left ankle strap was pretty worn and the orthotist said that one strong muscle spasm could break it!!
    Another tip would be to take a spare afo (if you have one) or a supportive pair of boots to an appointment in case your afos need to be worked on... I didn't yesterday and had a long wait at the hospital, as the trainers I was wearing were not enough to support my foot. so I couldn't leave it there and go elsewhere while the work was being done.
  • laurengrace94laurengrace94 Member Posts: 1 Listener
    Hi, I have only just joined on here and was browsing through the posts and this is an interesting post and one I can relate to more so. I have been wearing AFO's on and off for the last 14 years and have both good and bad experiences with them! The good things about wearing them is it does improve my walking and helps my posture greatly and the hip pain I get. I have been wearing splints since I was six, and my first was fitted after I started receiving Botox treatment to relax my calf muscle in my right leg. I have had major problems with previous AFO's before I had an operation two years ago, as I found that the splints were not fitting correctly, and it was a unbearable to walk in the splint as I used to walk on tip toe. For a short while I stopped wearing AFO's altogether because the same problem kept occurring. However after I had an operation, my surgeon decided to try the AFO's again, at first I was doubtful however I had no problems like I had before. I currently do not wear my AFO as it is broken. Anyway shoes are a nightmare for me however the best footwear for me to wear with my AFO are definitely skate shoes as I find that the splint fits easily in the shoe and they are comfortable to walk in, however I occasionally get cramp in my calf muscle, which can be painful. I also find doing light exercises before I put my AFO on, is a great help, as I find my foot goes into my splint a lot better as the muscles are more relaxed.
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    Thank you for your input laurengrace94, Sorry for taking so long to reply. Very helpful suggestion on skate shoes. Yes I can relate to what your saying about good and bad experiences of AFO's.

    If they are fitting correctly they are amazing and make such a difference to posture and gait, as you mentioned. Incorrect fitting, and they are totally unbearable.

    I owe my mobility, totally to my AFO's and can not be without them. Do you think you will go back to them? or have you found something else? It often takes many attempts to get the right foot position and design of AFO that works for you. Technology is advancing all the time in this area, its my belief that it won't be long before all AFO's are made out of Carbon fibre, which will make finding shoes that fit easier, carbon fibre is lighter so should mean less fatigue to, and it has a spring in it, that lots of people have reported to be helpful. Also because it is stronger, you can sometimes have the AFO designed that allows the calf muscle to fire and thus regenerate

    Thanks again for your post
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    Just an update.... I picked up my new afo for my right leg today, it fits really well, and is a lot stronger in construction than the one it's replacing. The only downside is that it's a lot wider than my old one, so I have to go shoe shopping
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    Thanks for your update niceboots, glad that your new AFO fits really well. frustrating that it wider, hope you find some shoes that fit. laurengrace94 suggested skate shoes they might be worth a try or I have found "hotter" shoes to be big enough, but only just! Let us know how you get on.

  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    I use skate shoes as they go wide enough, just have to go another size up!!!
    The same with my piedros
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    I think I need to invest in a pair of skate shoes to.....have you found 1 brand to be better than another?

    Smart shoes required for the office though :-)
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    I've tried and tested (and destroyed) many different brands of skate shoes over the years... I prefer vans, DC or etnies although vans skate shoes are getting harder to find, and the canvas type that seem to have replaced them don't go wide enough or last five minutes!! I would avoid cheaper makes as a rule, as they break down very quickly.
    I find smart shoes or boots a nightmare to find.... they don't generally go wide or deep enough, or open far enough down to get afos in. Are there any particular brands/types you have found? I have stuck with Piedro boots but they are so expensive, and I can't get them funded by the NHS as I wear afos on both feet.
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    edited September 2014
    Thanks Chris, Really valuable feedback, appreciate you taking the time to explain about skate shoes.

    Yes finding smart shoes or boots can be a nightmare, I have found "hotter shoes" to be the best so far. Very light, much lighter then piedro, and they also have some shock resistance build into the sole, which I feel is important as conventional AFO's are very ridgid and they don't allow for an insole, and for those of that have damaged knees it advantage to try and wear shoes with a little bit of spring in them, it can help a little on the old knee joints!

    Whereabouts do you get your piedro boots from?
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    I get my Piedro boots from they are the only supplier in the uk, although I do keep my eye out on ebay, but adult sizes are hard to come by on there. But there are always lots of children's sizes on there.
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    Just thought I'd tell people about some great boots I've found on Ebay.... They are made by a uk company called County, and are very similar to Piedro boots.
    There are various sizes available (both child and adult) in both Velcro and lace ups.
    They are really good to get over AFOs and are extremely hard wearing, mine were an absolute bargain at £19.99!!!!
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    Thanks Chris for your very valuable information, sounds excellent. Do you know of any UK stockiest? Just had a quick on ebay, and they do indeed look very good, just I could only find a used pair £29.99. I'm probably not looking in the right places! Is it possible please you could post a link or two so we can all have a look. Thanks :-)
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
  • NoahNoah Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    That's brilliant thanks Chris.

    They look amazing boots, just wish they were available in a size 10.
  • CommunityTeamCommunityTeam Posts: 87

    Scope community team

    If anyone is looking for related information, take a look at our list of pages about footwear.
  • Blue FrogBlue Frog Member Posts: 373 Pioneering
    Just bumping this thread as we have found somewhere who were brilliant with shoes!

    Next do a range of kids boots which open up really wide and have long Velcro straps (so you can do them up over the AFO's)

    They were lovely and let me put 5 pairs on my account and return the 4 I bought in different sizes to find the perfect ones. 
  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    That is great to know @Blue Frog 
    Senior online community officer
  • DibsDibs Member Posts: 2 Listener
    This hot summer long I have been wearing Ecco's white lace-up boots over my AFOs, with baggy linen trousers or jeans.  My left AFO is quite uncomfortable, especially in the heat. I have an appointment at St Mary's Roehampton on 29 August so am managing with a rubber-like material called poron which I can cut to size, and chiropody felt etc till then.  The heat and the discomfort do act as disincentives to do very much that involves walking.  I am one of those strange people who prefers cool weather, even rain!!!
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    I’m with you on preferring cool weather @Dibs it makes afos so sweaty and gross! Are Ecco shoes good? I’m having a nightmare with smarter shoes, as piedro have changed their styles! 
  • DibsDibs Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Am anxiously awaiting my first pair of Piedros.  Yes, I find the Ecco lace-up ankle boots are comfortable for me.  For smarter occasions I tend to wear black trousers and black ankle boots, although a new pair of white Eccos can look quite smart for a while, in the summer.  Every day is a bit of a challenge in this heat.
  • nicebootsniceboots Member Posts: 196 Pioneering
    Piedros are really good, I’ve worn them for nearly 30 years! Are you getting them through orthotics?
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