Editor’s Note: This post has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy on May 2022 and reflects an up-to-date selection of women’s shoes that fit braces.
Have you been recommended by your physical or occupational therapist to wear a pair of braces with your shoes? Do you need a pair of good and supportive shoes to fit your leg braces? If the answer is yes, then you came to the right place!
I have been working for a specialized shoe store for the last 10 years, and we specialize in fitting shoes and orthotics for women with foot and leg problems, but we also provide regular shoe fittings. I have personally fitted numerous shoes for women with different foot issues, sizes and widths. Over the years I became familiar with the best women’s shoes that fit braces.
First off, let’s define what a brace is. A brace is a device that is usually made of metal or hard plastic and is intended to be worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankles and hold the foot and ankle in the correct position. Additionally, using a brace will allow you to walk and run straighter.
There are many different types of leg braces, but let’s take a look at a picture of how most braces look like:
Trying to find shoes that fit over the braces can be a challenging and time-consuming task to achieve (if you don’t know what shoe styles to look for). But don’t worry anymore, I will help you find the perfect pair of shoes that fit braces!
The 5 Most Common Reasons why you Might Need a Pair of Braces
The following are the 5 main and most common reasons why you might need a pair of leg braces:
- If you are toe walking
- If you are experiencing foot and leg pain
- If you are flat-footed
- If you have low muscle tone
- If you have rolled ankles
You should know and be aware that if you are flat-footed, have low muscle tone, rolled ankles, or are toe walking, then you are putting more pressure in parts of your body where you are not supposed to, and so this leads to foot, leg and back pain.
However, if you are fitted with the correct type of braces and shoes, you will walk and run straighter, and the pain will be greatly reduced or fully eliminated.
I can tell you that shoes and braces work together to help you walk and run straighter. If you invest in a good pair of braces but you don’t wear the correct type of shoes, you won’t get the full benefits that the braces have to offer.
What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Effective for Women Who Wear Braces?
In addition to being supportive, there are two key features that your shoes must provide for you to get the full benefits that the braces have to offer:
☑️ Extra Depth: This feature will allow the brace to fit deeply inside the shoes and you won’t have the impression that your feet are coming out of the shoe when you walk.
Let’s take a look at the difference in depth between one of the shoes I recommend and a different style. For better visualization purposes I fitted an orthotic inside both of the shoes. Do you notice how the orthotic is sitting a lot deeper in the New Balance shoe (grey and pink) compared to the Asics shoe (all black)?
☑️ Rounder Toe-Boxes: This feature will help accommodate the brace and prevent it from poking a hole through your shoes.
Let’s take a look at the difference between a shoe with a round toe-box and one that has a pointier one. Do you notice how the shoe on the right has a much rounder toe-box compared to the shoe on the left? Keep in mind that these shoes are the same length and width, but as you can see they will fit very differently.
As soon as you try your braces with a deep shoe style with a round toe-box, you will see a noticeable difference right away, since your braces will feel a lot more comfortable.
Types of Braces – Learn the Differences!
I will briefly show you some of the main types of commonly used types of braces to give you a better idea of the distinct types of leg braces that there are. I have tested these braces in the shoes I will show you below, so if you are wearing any of these braces, you will be guaranteed that the shoes I recommend will be able to fit your braces.
- Short Articulated Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO). These braces are short and have an ankle joint which allows for your ankle to bend.
- Solid Ankle Full Length AFO. These braces are a long AFO (just below the knee). They are used by women with severe ankle arthritis or weakness in the muscles across the foot, ankle, and legs.
- Articulated Assist Full Length AFO. These braces are a full length AFO that has a toe pick up ankle joint. These are commonly used by women who have difficulty picking up their toes.
- Carbon Bracing. These braces are known for being lightweight and very strong. They are used by women who have muscle weakness in the legs and feet, tendon injuries, arthritis, and other foot and leg related issues. These braces are often used with foot orthotics to add more control.
- Custom Molded Ankle Gauntlet (Arizona style). These braces are short and are plastic encased in leather, which has a lace or Velcro closure. These braces are often used by women with severe posterior tibial tendon injuries, degenerative foot/ankle arthritis, and other tendon/ligament injuries.
Now that you know which are the reasons to wear braces and the several types there are, we can talk about what are the features that the shoes must provide to fit over your braces and support them.
Women’s Shoes that Fit Braces – The 4 Most Important Features
If you want to get all the benefits that the braces have to offer, there are certain features that your shoes must provide:
☑️ Substantial Outsole: The shoes must provide the right amount of support to attenuate the impact that your feet and legs take every time they meet the ground. Supportive shoes will also hold the brace in place.
☑️ Extra depth and rounder toe-boxes: We already went over these features. These features allow the braces to sit deeply inside the shoe and prevent you from having the impression that your feet are coming out of the shoe. Deep shoes make an enormous difference in the way braces and orthotics in general fit inside the shoes. The round toe-box will make the braces fit better inside the shoes and prevent the braces from destroying your shoes (poking a hole through the shoe).
☑️ Firm Heel Counters: This is the back part of the shoe that provides ankle support. The heel counter of the shoes must be firm to provide you ankle support and prevent the brace from moving up and down the shoes. Always press on the heel counter of the shoes before buying them and make sure that area feels firm.
☑️ Shoelaces instead of alternative closure: This type of closure will not only secure the braces and prevent them from coming off, but will also provide more stability and support for your feet.
If we find a shoe that provides all of those features, the braces will fit perfectly, and you will notice a difference right away!
Be sure that I only review shoes that I have fitted before since that is the only way for me to know how the shoes fit and how well made the shoes are. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.
The Best Shoes that Fit Braces ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The shoes below will fit a woman with medium (M), wide (W), or extra wide feet (XW) (as long as you choose the correct shoe width). Below you can find a selection of the best shoes that fit braces:
What Shoe Size Should You Order?
To prevent your toes from rubbing against the front or side part of the shoes, I highly recommend that you order these shoes a half size larger than the end of the AFO footplate —this translates to 3/16 of an inch or 0.4 centimeters of space between the end of the AFO footplate and the end of the shoes—
Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?
If none of these shoes are available in your size or if you are looking for a different pair of shoes to accommodate your leg braces don’t hesitate to contact me directly: email@example.com
Braces take a lot of space inside the shoes, but the goal is to be able to fit the braces inside the shoes without getting the shoes too big. It’s important to mention that if you usually wear a medium width shoe (M) you might have to order the wide width (W) option since the braces take extra space inside the shoes.
IMPORTANT TIP: Make sure to remove the original insoles of the shoe before you fit the braces inside the shoes.
Do you have a child that wears braces and needs a pair of shoes? I wrote an article where I describe the best shoe styles for kids who need leg braces. Please go to the link below:
Are you currently wearing braces, and have you found a particular shoe style that fits better? Please let us know in the comments section below so other women can benefit from your experiences!