Drop foot is crippling, awful, and debilitating condition that one has to deal with. It takes away pleasure from your life by basically making it so you don’t want to walk, such is the pain that it causes. In order to help mitigate for this, you can take some measures to correct this condition. One such way to do so is by purchasing and wearing a corrective braces. That is the point of our buying guide today. In it, we will be breaking down the ins and out of what to look for in drop foot braces. We will also be taking a look at and reviewing some of the top examples that are currently available for purchase on the market. So, let’s get right to it and find you some relief!
Top Drop Foot Braces Comparison Chart
|Product||Materials||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Konmed Adjustable Drop Foot AFO Brace||Elastic material + velcro + plastic clips||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|2. Furlove AFO Drop Foot Correction Brace||Polypropylene, Terry Fabric, Hook and loop fasteners||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|3. Tenbon Cushioned Adjustable Drop Foot Brace||Velvet fabric, sponge, plastic sheet and nylon tape||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|4. Insightful Step-Smart Drop Foot Brace||Polypropylene plastic||$$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|5. Core Products FootFlexor AFO Foot Drop Brace||Neoprene||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|6. Orthomen Ankle Foot Drop Brace||Polypropylene plastic||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|7. Copper Compression Gear Night Splint Drop Foot Support Brace||Nylon and Felpro||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|8. Igoeshopping Night Drop Foot Brace||Foam + velcro||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
Drop Foot Braces Buying Guide
What is Drop Foot?
Drop foot, also known as ‘dropfoot,’ ‘footdrop,’ or ‘foot drop’ refers to a condition in which a patient is unable to have full mobility to raise the foot along the ankle joint. What this ends up leading to is that person being forced to walk with their toes dragging the ground. This is very dangerous because it not only can lead to falls and general instability, but it also begins to exert pressure upon other parts of the body that are not used to that sort of thing. It can cause some pretty serious abnormalities to form in the hips if this persists, and it can harm the back. It’s unfortunate, but one thing can cause the whole body to spiral out of control. That’s why dealing with the issue head on is the best choice moving forward.
How To Treat Drop Foot
While there are a few ways to treat drop foot, we are going to be, obviously, taking a look at braces today in our guide. Braces are a good way to help start correcting the problem because they effectively act a splint. If you have ever broken a finger, and surely you have unless you have been sheltered forever or are just plain lucky, then you’ve probably had a splint or two before. These splints sort of prop up the fingers to make them hold in their normal position. Without the splint being there, the finger dangles and remains in the same ‘broken’ state. By holding it in place, it’s hoped that it will heal. Not only that, but it’s also going to be the goal of any splint or brace to get that part of the body moving correctly again.
Of course, we should also mention that there are other options to treat drop foot as well. Other options include things such as physical therapy, nerve stimulation, and surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website. Physical therapy works by trying to take weakened muscles and strengthening them to improve your range of motion. Stretching would also be included in this. The other two options are less common, with surgery being something of a last resort. You’ll definitely want to exhaust your efforts before jumping all in on that, but it’s ultimately up to you and what your doctor decides is best in that regard.
Even when you use a brace, you will still want to be careful around the house and out and about when you have the condition known as drop foot attributed to you. Many of these are very much common sense, but they are worth saying anyway so as to help you forge a path, hopefully a safe one, ahead. One of the things you can do is to make sure you keep your area nice and tidy. This is just good practice anyway, but having clutter in the floor is a recipe for tripping. Rugs are another such disaster in the making, so you should also refrain from using them. Giving yourself visual markers can also be very useful, especially when you are going up and down steps. You can use tape to help you identify those, that way you are constantly watching your step. Having rooms that are well lit is also of paramount performance. It won’t do you any good to have tape of floor markers down if you don’t have lights by which to see where you’re going. Lastly, you should also be very, very careful of any wires that could potentially trip you. The modern home has dozens and dozens of, seemingly, vital electric cords running all over the place. It’s easy to overlook them, but these are very hazardous to your health, particularly if you can’t see very well and aren’t the most agile of people.
A Little Bit of Anatomy
We don’t want to delve too far into the weeds here by getting way too technical, but there are some things that we need to look into a bit here. How the foot flexes is one of them, so we are going to break down what dorsiflexion and plantarflexion are and why they should matter to you. The main point of a brace is going to be making your walking pattern (gait) as normal as it can be. By doing this, the goal is to keep you more stable and thus healthy in an overall sense. So, let’s look at what dorsiflexion and plantarflexion are.
Dorsiflexion is a motion that occurs when the ankle joints forces the foot to point upwards, while plantarflexion is the motion of the same joints that cause the toes to point in a downward fashion. Typically, patients that have drop foot are unable to have any dorsiflexion, or much of it, because they have at least some weakness in those muscles that ultimately leads to the condition. Depending on which you exhibit, you will need a different type of brace.
Types of AFO’s
We all have heard of UFO’s before, but much fewer of us will know- or have any clue- what an AFO is. An AFO is basically just going to be a fancy name for a brace. So, if you see that acronym, then you will know that it’s referring to that and that only, not something from an alien motion picture. At any rate, there are five main types of AFO’s, so here is where we will take a look at each of them as well as their pluses and minuses.
Short Leg with Fixed Hinge
If you are looking for something that is easy to fit into just about any old pair of shoes and something that is light, this is the way to go. This option is going to help with those that have flat feet as well as drop foot, and it does so by keeping the foot at 90 degrees just as intended. It’s also not going to allow any rolling of the foot inward, which is helpful for a number of conditions. The issue that comes up with this type is that because it does have a fixed hinge, there is not a lot of movement allowed. This means the walking motion- your gait- is not going to be quite as natural as with some of the other choices. It’s also a poor choice for tall folks, so that should be kept in mind, too.
If you are dealing with a lot of plantarflexion and want to put a stop to that, then this is the way to turn. This type of brace is also useful in dealing with dorsiflexion by either stopping it entirely or limiting it. This kind of approach is best served for those of us that have lost nearly all of our strength in dorsiflexion and those that have very weak knees. It is a bulky way to go about it, but that’s the trade off you get in order to try and bolster you and give you much more stability and control over yourself.
Energy return systems have become all the rage in footwear on the market today, so it’s no shock to see this idea crossover into the realm of braces and orthotics as well. This type of AFO has a lot of natural flex built into it in order to increase the ability to achieve dorsiflexion. The way this is done is by using very modern materials, such as carbon graphite. Despite their appearance making them seem as if they are flimsy, this material is actually very strong and will be supportive enough for you while not being too heavy and bulky on you.
Dorsiflexion Assist AFO’s
Yet another choice on offer is that of the dorsiflexion assist brace. This type differs in that it works by using a hinge that is very springy in nature. This hinge acts by raising the foot up when it makes contact with the ground. This makes you much more able to keep a natural gait and can be a great fit for those that have either a flat foot or those that have an instability as well as having moderate drop foot. The thing with these is that they do not work well in conjunction with larger patients. If you are upwards of 225 pounds and are over six foot tall, you’re going to have to, unfortunately, look elsewhere for your best answer.
Leaf Spring AFO (Posterior)
This type is not nearly as prevalent as it once was, but it still deserves a mention nonetheless. This type is not as light or as comfortable as many of the others left out on the marketplace, so it has seen its importance begin to wane in the last few years. Despite that, they do a great job for people that are having severe problems in the knees that also have drop foot. So, that’s something to keep an eye on if you notice your knee is buckling a ton and you need a correction for those woes.
Boots vs Braces (and Socks, too)
If you search long and hard enough online, then you’re going to surely end up seeing a lot of things that look like they could help you. As always, this can be helpful, but it can sure get confusing in a hurry, too. While most our guide, and reviews, focus on braces, boots are also out there to help you recover from drop foot rather than being constantly held back. The thing with boots is that you have to weigh the pros and cons. They are heavier and much bulkier, but by the same token, they have the ability to last a long, long time. Braces, on the other hand, are designed with comfort in mind. Because they are lighter in weight that boots are, you can also be much more mobile with them on. They are also usually a whole lot more breathable, too. The one possible strike against them will be their durability, which will be less than that of a boot in most cases. Then we come to socks. Socks are the new it thing, it feels like in the market. There are socks for every activity imaginable now, from socks that are designed for athletics and everything else you can think of, really. Socks, though, need to be taken with a grain of salt, if you will. While they can be helpful, a sock alone is not going to be very effective in dealing with this particular condition. They can be great in conjunction with a brace or boot, but they won’t give you the desired effect at all, therefore it’s best to steer clear of them.
The type of materials used speaks volumes about any product you see being sold, and that is also the case with braces used to treat drop foot. Because most drop foot patients will require a whole lot of use of their brace, it is very much vital to you that you pick something comfortable that you can wear over and over again. If you hate wearing something, you’ll never wear it, honestly, so it’s best to make sure you’re comfy before you go and embark on your journey.
A very popular man made material, nylon is great because it has the advantage of being soft yet being very, very stubborn. Nylon is difficult, if not impossible, to tear and is also lightweight, making it very manageable to carry around. If the model is made to be light weight, then this is one of the more likelier options, since it will be emphasizing movement and flexibility above all.
Plastics or composite materials are another fine choice and is a blend between two or more material types. A lot of times you will see this mixture so that is can give you various properties. Maybe it’s designed to be sturdier yet lighter, or perhaps it’s going to be strong and breathable. Either way, it’s nice to see that some companies think outside of the box a little by going with a mix of materials.
Foam is not a surprise on the list at all, and it’s been a staple in all kinds of markets for a long, long time now. From beds to braces of all kinds, it’s used in the part of the brace that seeks to cushion the foot for test. Foams can sometimes also be called ‘gels,’ so keep that in mind since both are pretty similar and don’t need a deeper explanation here.
Neoprene is pretty similar to nylon, but it is made out of rubber instead of fabric like its counterpart. It’s also got the pluses of being light and flexible and is used in many cases to keep a particular body part in one spot so that blood flow can be regulated and you can heal.
Last Step Tips
At the last minute, you also need to keep a few things in mind in order to make sure you’re making the right choice. Comfort, as discussed, is huge, but you can’t get a true glimpse into comfort without trying on the brace first. The best way to possibly do this is to try the brace on when you are outfitted the same as you will be when you wear it. Even if you have already ordered the brace, it’s crucial that you try it on with your same socks and shoes that you plan on wearing it with. If you can’t get a good fit, it’s going to be wise of you to look for alternative means of getting the help and support you need. It might not be ideal, but it’s better than suffering for months or years with it. Also, make sure and check for any places that get irritated from the brace. If you see red skin forming, it could worsen, especially if you have Diabetes or something similar, so you will want to ensure that does not take root.
The Top Eight Drop Foot Braces of 2019 Reviews
Konmed Adjustable Drop Foot AFO Brace
If you have any of a bevy of foot related problems, then this could be just the fix for you. At an affordable price, this is a great thing to try out to see if it helps as your condition begins to form. This is a one size fits most deal, so you will need to take that into account and make adjustments for yourself. With Nylon tape to hold it all together, breathable elastic materials, Velcro, and plastic clips, you’ve got plenty to be able to make small changes that keep you comfortable and make sure you’re not overheating as you go about your day. Because of the way they have manufactured it, you can wear it with a ton of different types of shoes, ranging from tennis shoes to slip ons, and even sandals, something that’s not always a given with orthotics of any kind.
- Goes with tons of shoe varieties
- Good, low price
- Soft, breathable, and strong materials
Furlove AFO Drop Foot Correction Brace
Coming up next is a brace that is going to cover up more of the legs, helping to protect the ankles and foot a bit more. This one does cost more than the previous one, but it’s still far less expensive than most of the ones that are customized to you at clinics. With that said, you have a ‘custom trim’ feature to them that lets you to tailor them to your kind of shoe, helping to zero in on the target areas a bit better. This takes some scissor work, but it’s not too big of a deal to bring you some good old pain relief. They are easy to clean and is also more flexible than it may seem at first glance. On top of that, the thermoplastic is strong and durable, all the while being comfortable, fully exhibiting what modern technology has been able to bring to us on a regular basis.
- Custom trim
- Strong and durable yet comfy
- More ankle protection than many
Tenbon Cushioned Adjustable Drop Foot Brace
Up next is another lower priced option but it is one that will be compatible with a ton of shoe types, making it ideal for those of us that just can’t help but mix it up a bit. This brace is made out of velvet fabric, spongy material, plastic, and nylon, all helping blend together to give softness and rigidity. The ankle wrap is cushioned so that you won’t be dealing with irrationals, all the while it’s also going to be breathable to allow you to get some airflow in there. Because of the method they have used, you’ll be able to wear it along with tennis shoes, sandals, and even more. These are a one size fits all, like our #1 offering, so you’ll need to make sure you take that into account and are able to make adjustments based on the size that is necessary for you.
- One size fits all
- Easy to make adjustments
- Padded and breathable ankle wrap
Insightful Step-Smart Drop Foot Brace
This is by far the highest priced offering on our list today, but it makes it due to how useful it is able to be. This brace is very much like an orthotic and uses the latest developments in technology. That’s due to the use of very lightweight materials that make it weigh less than a pound. Despite this, it’s able to be super efficient with energy and promotes natural gait and flexibility through the use of a ‘Jacob joint.’ This joint has helped people do many things they haven’t been able to do in a long time, and doesn’t just include walking and running. It’s also helped some drive again. They have several different models as well to help pinpoint your problem. They are even covered by insurance if you want to go that route. It’s an extreme price to pay, but if you want the most modern stuff, this is the way for you to turn!
- Revolutionary technology
- Helps you return to normalcy
- Extremely light and flexible
- Very, very high price
Core Products FootFlexor AFO Foot Drop Brace
Following that behemoth of a piece of machinery is another product that is made with full mobility and flexibility in mind. While much cheaper than the prior example, this AFO is still made with allowing your foot to move naturally firmly in mind. As soon as your foot hits the ground, the toes lift of immediately to give you clearance and get you back into the normal swing of things. An improvement over previous models, this one is softer and more comfortable than before, yet it retains the solidity it formerly had. Made in the USA, this brace is able to be used in conjunction with any pair of shoes or boots that you like, provided that they can be laced up. It’s a low profile choice, but it’s not one that you’ll be disappointed with should you opt to go with it.
- Soft and comfy
- Prioritizes flexibility and freedom of movement
- Gives you normal gait again
Orthomen Ankle Foot Drop Brace
If you are looking for a similar price as the Core Products item, but you want something that covers more of the ankle, then this one from Orthomen is a good selection. This brace is made out of very durable materials and is great for giving you toe clearance so you can get back to walking fairly normal again. With a range of sizes, this one is going to feel more tailored to you, which is never a bad thing. There is a degree of adjustability built into it that will please you, though you can’t move the plastic around a ton, so there is that. One thing to keep in mind is that you should take a good, long look at the size chart before ordering. Some have found it tough to get the correct size, so you should be especially careful to follow that to a ‘T’ to get the most from your experience.
- More ankle protection
- Adjusts well
- Decent price and durable
- Not the easiest to size
Copper Compression Gear Night Splint Drop Foot Support Brace
Copper is in vogue currently, so it’s no shock to see a brace made with copper as a base ingredient here. This one comes with a 100% money back guarantee, which is sure to drive consumer confidence up drastically. With two straps, one up top over the ankle, and the other on the mid foot, you are able to make plenty of adjustments to feel more comfortable and to find the relief you need and deserve. One thing to take note of is that this is more of a sleep brace, so if you need something for more regular wear, you should probably go with another selection. This prioritizes sleep and heeling you get more of it, so that’s what you need to realize. The goal is to help prevent cramps and restlessness from happening, so that’s going to be what you should look for this to do!
- Promotes better sleep
- Very easy to adjust to your liking
- Money back guarantee
Igoeshopping Night Drop Foot Brace
Rounding out our list today is this offering, yet another option for those of us that have issues at night and want to get better sleep. This brace is made out of plastic inlays and foam to help make them breathable and comfortable while being fairly rigid. The Velcro used is very strong and is located in a number of places to help you lock down the foot exactly where and how you want it to be. It’s easy to adjust and can be worn on any foot. Furthermore, you can wear it with virtually any pair of shoes out there, or even without, obviously since it’s mainly made with the intention of sleeping in it. The instructions that come along with the AFO are not very good, so you will need to take note of that and be ready to figure it out alone when you do order it.
- Breathes well
- Plenty of adjustability thanks to Velcro
- Wear with or without shoes
- Instructions are terrible
Conclusion And Final Drop Foot Braces Recommendations
Finding products online is never as easy as it might seem, especially if you are not sure what you are looking for exactly. Depending on your level of expertise with drop foot, you might not have any idea about what is going on. That’s why a guide on what it is and how you can fix it is so helpful. Throw in some reviews for items that can help you right away, and it’s made all the easier. We’ve attempted to do just that today, all in a bid to help you figure out how to get the most out of your life and to get back mobile and free. So, get to it. Find the brace that’s just right for you and feel the freedom that comes along with it!
FAQ’s About Drop Foot Braces
How Do I Know I Have Drop Foot?
For all intents and purposes, you can usually tell for yourself, honestly, whether you have drop foot or not. With that said, it’s never a bad thing to go to a doctor to see if they can officially diagnose you. They can confirm it is indeed drop foot, and not something else potentially, and they can set you up with some additional resources to help you out. This way, you don’t end up overlooking what could amount to another problem that is wrong with you, and you can start getting a fix. It’s not always a bad thing to self diagnose, but sometimes it’s just smart to get a second opinion, especially if it’s someone that has been around the block a time or two and can help refer you to things that will help your condition and make you feel better while remaining as safe as you possibly can be.
What Causes Drop Foot?
There are a lot of things that can cause drop foot to occur. Some of them are worse than others, but at the end of the day, you still have the underlying condition to try and fix. The most common thing that causes it to occur is going to be nerve issues. Drop foot is not something that just happens on its own, rather it is a result of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Sometimes a pinched nerve is the culprit, though other things that are more serious can also impact you. Strokes can cause drop foot, as well as disorders like Polio or ALS. There are some professions that can actually cause it to occur as well. Things that force you to kneel a lot can cause it to occur, casts on the leg can cause it, and crossing your legs frequently can also lead to it.
Do Braces Heal Injuries?
The truth of the matter here is that they do not. Braces do not heal the injury itself, rather they are there to support and ensure that there is no further injury. A cast, for example, is used to cover up a broken bone and make sure no more harm comes of it while it settles back into place. This is not a process whereby the brace is able to suddenly fix all of your problems. It’s just there to try and alleviate pain, much like a pain reliever is meant to do as well.
Can I Run With An AFO/Brace On?
It all depends on your level of fitness and where you are at on your recovery. You should definitely look to get approval from a doctor, but there is no reason to just assume that’s a blanket no on this. You should see improvement in walking fairly quickly if the device is doing its job, so running is certainly not out of the picture if you are ready for such exercise.