Shoes and splints

Splints are designed to hold your ankle at a 90° angle. Orthotists prescribe them for conditions such as cerebral palsy.

You might wear a splint if you have tight or loose muscles that make it harder to hold your ankle in place. A splint can help if you:

  • walk on your toes
  • or trip on your foot

If you or your child wear a splint, it can be harder to find comfortable shoes. You will need extra room in your shoes to fit over your splint.

Types of splints

There are several types of splints. An orthotist will prescribe you a splint that is suitable for your needs. You could have a combination of splints.

Your orthotist might prescribe a splint for 1 foot or both feet. If you wear a splint on 1 foot, you could take the insole out of this shoe. You can add an insole to the shoe that has not got a splint in it. This will make the space in the shoe smaller.

AFO

The most common type of splint is an ankle foot orthosis (AFO). An AFO is made of hard plastic. These can often be customised with different colours and patterns.

DAFO

You could also have a dynamic ankle foot orthosis (DAFO). A DAFO is usually made of fabric and sits lower on your calf.

GRAFO

A ground reaction ankle foot orthosis (GRAFO) helps you straighten your knee using the force from the ground.

KAFO

A knee ankle foot orthosis (KAFO) supports both your ankle and knee.

Fixed splint

A fixed splint holds your ankle in a fixed position and offers more support.

Hinged splint

A hinged splint will have a hinge at the ankle. If you have a hinged splint, you may need wider fitting shoes to fit the hinge.

You may have a ready-made splint or a custom splint using a cast of your foot. You may need wider shoes if you have a ready-made splint.

Try on shoes if you can

Splints come in different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to try on shoes if you can.

If you need extra room, ask if you can remove the insoles before you try the shoes on. This may not be possible if the insoles are glued to the shoe.

If the shoes feel a bit tight to begin with, ask whether they will stretch over time. Make sure there is enough room for your toes as they will sit higher in the shoe.

Tips for buying shoes

You will need shoes that are:

  • supportive
  • easily adjustable to fit over your splint

You can adjust shoes with laces or Velcro to fit over your splint. You will need wider shoes to fit your splint. Men’s shoes tend to be wider. You could also get shoes a size or 2 bigger.

Trainers can be more comfortable and easier to adjust than other types of shoes. Boots and high-top trainers have more ankle support than other types of shoes.

Look for shoes with a thick and durable sole. The sole may wear out quicker if your condition affects your walking.

You should avoid:

  • shoes with a heel as your foot would not be in the right position
  • shoes without fastenings, such as slip-on trainers. You cannot adjust these.

You may also want to think about clothing that can help make shoes and splints more comfortable.

For example, socks without seams or long socks can be more comfortable with harder splints or ones that rub. Splints can be easier to put under loose-fitting trousers too. Or if you wear a splint over trousers, soft fabrics like leggings can be more comfortable than jeans.

Adapted shoes

You could look for shoes with both a zip and laces. You can adjust the laces to fit your splint. The zip makes the shoes easier to put on or take off.

If you struggle with tying laces, you could replace them with elastic laces.

Nike designed FlyEase trainers to be easier to put on and take off. Some have a zip which goes round the back of the shoe. This means the back of the shoe is open and is easier to fit a splint into.

Other designs have a sole that opens and closes so you can put them on or take them off without using your hands.

Nike FlyEase (Nike)

Marks and Spencer has an easy dressing range for kids. The range includes shoes that have both laces and zips.

Kids Easy Dressing range (Marks and Spencer)

Billy Footwear also sells shoes for adults and children that have both laces and zips. They have been designed to fit splints. The zip goes around the tongue of the shoe. This means the top is fully open.

Billy Footwear

Your physiotherapist or orthotics department may offer custom-fitted shoes. These are designed to fit your splint precisely. You may not have much choice over how the shoes look. Ask your orthotics department if they offer custom-fitted shoes.

If you are a parent of a disabled child

Making or buying a splint or special shoe for your child’s teddy or doll might help prepare them too.

Teddy Foot Splint (Etsy shop)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 09/11/2023

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it

Need more advice about cerebral palsy?