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Best AFO Brace for Foot Drop in 2022

A few different things can cause foot drop, but the downward-falling forefoot is a classic sign of the condition. It can hamper everyday actions like walking, making your life more difficult.

Wearing the best AFO brace for foot drop can help you to regain movement that may be difficult. While old-school braces are bulky and hard to wear, modern AFOs are lightweight, comfortable, and come in in-shoe and out-of-shoe options.

We recommend the Ossur Foot-Up AFP for our top pick. It has a low-profile, unobtrusive design that fits easily into shoes, it’s comfortable enough to wear for many hours on end, and it has a breathable ankle strap.

If you’re looking for a practical solution to foot drop, browse through this list. An AFO could be the thing that changes your life!

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Ossur Foot-Up

 

  • Breathable ankle cuff strap
  • Comfortable to wear all-day
  • Low-profile design
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DOSH AFO Foot Drop Brace

 

  • Can be worn on either foot
  • Brace can be inverted
  • Worn with shoes or barefoot
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Ossur AFO Leaf Spring

 

  • Can be easily trimmed
  • Open heel enhances comfort
  • Padded hook-and-loop strap
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Best Overall

1. Ossur Foot-Up

This brace is discreet and easy to use. It’s an outside-of-shoe device that doesn’t need to fit into your shoe to do its job.

You can wear it with any shoes or pants, and it’s simple to use once you understand how it works.

What We Like

The low-profile design makes it easy to wear regardless of your footwear. It works equally well with casual shoes as it does with work shoes, as long as both have a traditional lacing system.

Its discreet design makes it almost invisible when worn, but it does offer good support and correction for foot drop.

The device consists of ankle straps and a flexible plastic inlay. The inlay fits neatly between the tongue of the shoe and the laces, and a quick-release clip attaches the two pieces.

The plastic inlay sits between the laces. You attach it to the strap and cinch it tight, pulling the foot upwards. You can also wear it with sandals.

The ankle strap is tri-layered and breathable, keeping your lower leg cool even while you’re wearing it.

This brace comes in three different sizes—medium, large, and extra-large—and in two colors—black and tan. You can use it on either the left or right foot.

Why We Like It

You can wear this brace with any footwear and in any situation. It’s effortless to use and non-intrusive.

PROS:

  • Low-profile design that fits comfortably inside any shoe
  • Breathable ankle cuff strap
  • Comfortable to wear all-day
  • Available in three sizes and two colors

CONS:

  • Doesn’t work with shoes that don’t have laces or a tongue

Top Value

2. DOSH AFO Foot Drop Brace

This brace works similarly to our top choice, but it’s a more affordable option that anyone can use to help raise the forefoot.

It comes in only one size, so be sure to double-check if it will fit your feet before choosing to purchase it.

What We Like

The Dosh AFO brace is lightweight and unobtrusive. It consists of two straps and a buckle connector.

You can wear the brace with shoes or barefoot. To wear it barefoot, attach one of the straps around your ankle and the other around your arch, then connect them using the buckle strap.

To wear the brace with shoes, hook the D-ring onto your shoelaces and adjust it to your preferred tightness.

If you find that you can’t adjust it tight enough, you can invert the brace and switch straps, which may allow for a tighter fit.

You can wear this brace on either foot and even wear it while you’re asleep. However, it only comes in one size, which runs small. So if you have big feet, it may not fit.

Why We Like It

This brace is very versatile. It can be worn on either foot, with shoes or barefoot, inverted for more lift, and even worn when you go to bed. It’s also quite affordable.

PROS:

  • Brace can be inverted for added lift
  • Can be worn on your right or left foot
  • It can be worn with shoes or barefoot
  • Can be worn when you go to bed

CONS:

  • This brace only comes in one size

Best for Mild Drop Foot

3. Ossur AFO Leaf Spring

You don’t need a strong brace if you only have mild foot drop. The answer might be the Ossur AFO Leaf Spring brace. It’s a minimalist brace that can fit easily into a shoe.

What We Like

This brace is lightweight and minimalist. It fits easily inside most footwear, thanks to its thin design.

A supportive semi-rigid polypropylene foot plate extends up the back of the ankle for support. It has an open heel for increased comfort. Plus, you can trim the plate in the toe area for a customized fit.

There’s a padded hook-and-loop strap around the calf to keep it secure.

Why We Like It

This brace is minimalist but provides good support for mild foot drop. It fits easily into footwear and isn’t intrusive.

PROS:

  • Semi-rigid polypropylene foot plate
  • Can be easily trimmed for a customized fit
  • Open heel enhances comfort
  • Padded hook-and-loop strap

CONS:

  • You can’t replace the calf pad if it wears out

Top Adjustable Brace

4. TENBON Adjustable Drop Foot Brace

This simple brace can be easily adjusted to suit your particular case of foot drop. It’s easy to use with most footwear.

It’s quite adjustable thanks to interchangeable inserts that allow it to be used with almost any kind of shoe.

What We Like

This brace comes with interchangeable inserts that allow you to wear it with laced shoes, sandals, or slip-ons. However, you can’t wear it when you’re barefoot.

The straps loop around your laces or attach to your shoes and reattach to themselves, allowing you to tighten them as much or as little as you need.

The cushioned ankle wrap is breathable and comfortable enough to wear for many hours at a time. It doesn’t take up any space inside shoes, so you can comfortably wear your socks and shoes.

It has small silicone dots inside the wrap, which help to keep it secure and from sliding. Just note that it may not be suitable for those with a silicone allergy.

This is a one-size-fits-all design, although the maximum ankle circumference it can fit is 11.5 inches. You can use it on both the left and right feet.

Why We Like It

You can use this with most footwear and it’s very adjustable. It’s also easy to use and comfortable enough to wear all day.

PROS:

  • Breathable, cushioned ankle wrap
  • Interchangeable inserts let you wear the brace with any shoe
  • Velcro closures allow for easy adjustment
  • Silicone strips keep the AFO brace in place

CONS:

  • Not suitable for those with a silicone allergy

Easiest to Put On One-Handed

5. Neofect Drop Foot Brace

If you need something quick, convenient, and easy to get on, we recommend the Neofect Drop Foot Brace.

It’s a single-piece design, which can be wrapped comfortably and securely around the ankle quickly and easily with one hand.

What We Like

This lightweight and easy-to-use brace can be put on with just one hand, making it a very convenient choice.

Although it’s lightweight, it does a nice job of keeping the foot lifted, helping you to walk naturally. It has a low-profile design that fits easily into most shoes, without discomfort or irritation.

The single-strap design means that this brace can put used and put on with only one hand.

The 4.5-inch strap is thick enough to provide light compression and support when it’s on, improving circulation as well as supporting the foot.

In addition, three high-tension straps cross over the bottom of the foot, creating the tension needed to lift the foot.

An open-heeled design increases the comfort, and a 2 mm cushioned pad in the forefoot provides extra shock absorption.

You should note that these braces are designed specifically for the left and right foot, so make sure you get the right one for your foot.

Why We Like It

This brace is extremely simple and easy to put on. You can do it with just one hand! Perfect for those who need something easy and convenient.

PROS:

  • Brace is designed to be put on easily with one hand
  • Open heel design
  • 2 mm forefoot pad provides additional support and cushioning
  • Multiple adjustable straps allows for a personalized fit

CONS:

  • May not be very effective for severe foot drop

Best Slim Design

6. Furlove AFO Drop Foot Brace

This brace is sturdy, but has a slim, lightweight design that you can easily wear with any shoe and underneath any pants.

It’s anatomically-designed, with a different fit for left and right feet so be sure to get the correct one when you buy.

What We Like

This light, thin brace is made of strong injection-molded polypropylene, providing good foot support. It weighs just over 3 ounces, so you’ll hardly feel it on your foot.

A sturdy ankle collar with an adjustable back strap helps to keep the brace safe and secure. The footplate is solid and offers a good base for the foot while still breathable.

Although the brace is designed for left and right feet separately, the buckles can be opened from either side, making it easier for anyone to adjust.

The hard plastic is lined with inflatable airbag cushions, which keeps your feet and legs comfortable even when you’re wearing the brace for long periods.

Why We Like It

This brace is solid but lightweight and can fit easily into most footwear. It comes in various sizes and you can leave it in your shoe when you take your shoe off!

PROS:

  • Lightweight, injection-molded polypropylene frame
  • Inflatable airbag cushions and provides comfort
  • Buckle allows for easy entry
  • Anatomical design

CONS:

  • Some may find the front support design uncomfortable

Most Durable

7. Orthomen Drop Foot Brace

This brace may look minimalist and light, but it’s highly durable. It’s excellent for stability and support and comes in various sizes.

What We Like

This brace offers excellent support for drop foot. It’s made of polypropylene material that’s hard-wearing and lightweight, making it very durable.

You can trim the footplate to the perfect size for your feet, which helps increase the comfort of this brace.

It fits easily into any shoe, with a slim design and a low heel and can accommodate an orthotic if necessary.

The padded hook-and-loop strap keeps you comfortable for many hours, and there’s also a soft strap on the forefoot to keep the foot in place. The padding can be removed and washed.

Why We Like It

Although it’s lightweight, this brace is very durable. It’s also slim and fits into most types of shoes, with or without an orthotic.

PROS:

  • Made from durable polypropylene
  • Padded hook-and-loop strap
  • Can be trimmed for a customized fit
  • Removable and washable padding

CONS:

  • May not be supportive enough for some

Best With 2 Hooks

8. Core Products FootFlexor

This brace distributes pressure differently than other braces but is still highly effective at lifting the foot.

It’s an outside-the-shoe device and you can use it on either the right or the left foot to the same effect.

What We Like

Unlike most other braces, this one has two straps that attach to your shoe eyelets to provide stiff support and keep the foot lifted. You can use it easily with any shoe since it doesn’t go into the shoe at all.

It fits ankle sizes from 9 to 15 inches in diameter with its adjustable straps. It can also be placed on a few different areas of your shoes.

The wrap itself is made from neoprene, which is soft and comfortable.

Why We Like It

Those who find one strap uncomfortable will like how this brace distributes pressure with its two straps. It’s easy to use on lace-up shoes.

PROS:

  • Can be worn with most lace-up shoes and boots
  • Tension cord can can be attached to different parts of your shoe
  • Wrap is made from soft, supportive neoprene
  • Adjustable tension

CONS:

  • It may not work so well on shoes without eyelets

Buyers Guide – AFO Brace for Foot Drop

What Types of AFO Braces Are There?

AFO braces come in two types—solid and hinged. A solid AFO serves two purposes—to correct the foot drop and stop the muscles underneath the foot from contracting, keeping the foot flexed.

However, a solid AFO limits your range of movement, so it’s often only used in severe cases where spasticity is present.

A hinged AFO device hinges at the ankle, allowing for a more natural range of motion and allowing you to walk close as you normally would. These are usually used in less severe cases of foot drop where spasticity is not an issue.

What is an Outside-the-Shoe Support System?

In many cases, an AFO is too bulky to fit comfortably inside a shoe. An outside-the-shoe support system is an external foot brace with a strap just above the ankle that can be connected to your shoe.

It works with the shoe to lift the forefoot and reduce the effects of drop foot. While this is visible from the outside, it’s a more practical solution for many people than a bulky brace that can’t fit into a shoe comfortably.

When Does an AFO Brace Help and When Does It Not?

A stiff—solid—AFO brace will help when spasticity is the cause of the foot drop. A hinged AFO or an outside-the-shoe device will help if there’s still mobility in the ankle and the foot.

However, if you have weak ankles, you may want to look for a brace that offers lateral support rather than a hinged AFO.

Fit and Comfort

The brace you choose should stay in place without moving around, but it also shouldn’t be too tight that it causes you pain or cuts off the circulation in the foot.

Material

Most AFOs are made of foam and composite plastic materials, but some use soft neoprene or nylon for comfort and lightness.

Whether you choose a plastic brace or a softer one depends on how severe your foot drop is and the recommendation of your foot doctor.

You should make sure the brace you choose has a layer of foam that will help to absorb shock and prevent rubbing.

FAQs

What Is Foot Drop?

Foot drop—also called dropped foot—is a condition in which the muscles of the foot responsible for dorsiflexion—lifting the forefoot and toes—become weak and can no longer move as they should.

You will find that you have difficulty raising the front part of your foot both when at rest and when walking. The condition is common in stroke survivors and can be caused by neurological disorders or compressed nerves in the foot or spinal cord.

What Kind of Brace Is Good for Drop Foot?

A regular ankle brace won’t work for drop foot. Instead, you should wear an AFO—ankle-foot orthosis—which is a robust brace that’s designed specifically to support the front of the foot.

An AFO will help keep the forefoot raised and reduce the effects of poor dorsiflexion.

How Long Should I Wear My AFO?

You should wear your AFO for a maximum of 2 hours at a time with an hour-long break between wears. It is also recommended that you wear it for only two of these cycles in a row.

How Long Do AFO Braces Last?

An AFO brace will last a few years if you look after it and use it for its intended purpose. Keep in mind that children may outgrow a brace quickly and need a bigger one. The same may happen if you gain a lot of weight.