Foot drop can be a frustrating condition to live with, especially without the right orthopedic accessories. Foot braces designed to assist in walking and reduce symptoms and pain are a key part of the daily routine. Hence, choosing the correct brace to suit your needs is paramount.
With the online market saturated with competing brands and styles, there is a brace out there to fit any need or activity level. The best drop foot brace is undoubtedly the Step-Smart brand in terms of mobility and usage types.
Yet there are many exceptional brands which can fulfill the unique health requirements of each individual and no product is without flaw. There is surely a wonderful match between a foot drop brace and your personal needs in the best-selling products of orthopedic care.
Did you get somewhere to be in the next few minutes? Skip to our top recommendation which is Insightful Products Step-Smart Drop Foot Brace.
Best Drop Foot Brace
1. Step-Smart Drop Foot Brace
The Step-Smart Brand by Insightful Products is a brace that the wraps around both the ankle and lower calf and a molded plastic foot support, designed to allow for more natural and flexible foot movement.
- Flexible! The brace is designed to emulate the normal motion of walking and allows a wider range of motion.
- Adjustable! The “bumpers” near the heel allow for changes in resistance, which also changes the shock absorption to idealized levels.
- Light! The brace weighs less than 1lb.
- Innovative Jocob Joint increases shock absorption to allow for interchangeable resistance settings with the “bumpers.”
- Slightly twisted design to emulate average “toe out” of normal stance.
- Convenient! The design is so light and natural that once you’ve adjusted, you’d likely forget you’re wearing it.
- Great Customer Support! Insightful Products offers tutorials for adjusting the brace to your specifications and is open to calls and emails.
- Durable! The molded plastic is meant to endure frequent use and the straps are secured by powerful Velcro.
- Pricey. This brace is not a casual purchase.
- Adjustment time. Because of the unique design, it can take up to a week to adjust to the way it supports the foot.
- Not universal. The left and right foot designs are different and require separate purchases.
The smart steps design would benefit those with more active lifestyles, considering that it is specifically designed to make motion feel as natural as engineering allows.
The durability means this is a one-time purchase and can be used daily without concern of discomfort.
2. Ossur Foot-Up Drop Foot Brace
Ossur’s brace is the epitome of simplicity—in design and usage. Made for ease and comfort, Ossur delivers a universally fitted, covert style that won’t draw attention.
- Simple! There is no fiddling with straps and buckles—Velcro around the ankle and a clip onto your shoe.
- Comfortable! The 3-layer fabric of the ankle wrap is cushioned and breathable, which prevents sweating and itching.
- Discreet! A plastic inlay fits neatly under the laces of shoes and is nearly invisible.
- Universal Fit! This brace can fit both legs and has no gender divide—the only requirement is that you select the correct ankle circumference.
- Flexible! No hard parts that break, only flexible fabric.
- Only works with laced shoes. The plastic insert needs to be under laces to stay in place.
- Awkward Walking. It takes some adjustment to learn to walk with the brace as it is fairly rigid in how it lifts the foot.
- Some reviews complain that the strap is too short to connect comfortably to the ankle wrap.
- Strange sizing. Rather than being measured in shoe sizes, this brace requires you or someone else measures the narrowest part of your ankle.
The comfortable design puts this as a great brace for casual wear. Made study, this brace can last for up to a year before parts need replacing. The only hiccup would be in the sizing struggle, which seems to be a method unique to this brand. Otherwise, it’s great invisible support.
3. Vive Hard Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint and Trigger Point Spike
This next brace by Viva Health is the first of this list to have a specified use—this is their hard night brace, designed to be worn while sleeping as opposed to walking on. It also comes with a trigger point spike ball for massage purposes.
- Sturdy! The outer layer is hard and supports the weight of the leg entirely, so it gently stretches the foot all night and sleep is not disturbed.
- Comfortable! The interior is lined with breathable foam to cushion the foot and leg.
- Versatile! The three adjustable straps mean it can fit both men and women in each size category, and the buckles mean these adjustments only need to happen once.
- Durable! The exterior is built to last and can even be walked on.
- Budget Price! This brace has incredible value for its low price tag and lasts far longer than one would expect.
- Single-purpose. This brace is designed to sleep in, not to walk on and has limited mobility.
- Buckles can be frustrating. Depending on your mobility and body type, it might be difficult to bend over and reach all three.
- Full Calf Coverage. The brace covering a majority of the calf makes it difficult to move with. Enough to get to the bathroom in the night, but not comfortable enough to use for daily activities.
As far as orthopedic equipment is concerned, the price point for this brace is fantastic value for being able to not only sleep better at night but also experience less pain taking the first steps of the day.
4. Aircast Dorsal Night Splint
The DNS (Dorsal Night Splint) by Aircast has the main support on the front of the ankle as opposed to the rear (along the muscle). It also wraps around the entire foot instead of focusing higher on the leg.
- Flexible! The hinge design allows this splint to be pulled on easily, similar to a sock. Also has 3 separate adjustable points.
- Comfort! The main footpad is designed to hug snugly to the foot and keep it comfortable with its anatomical design.
- Small! Splint covers only the foot and part of the ankle, so it isn’t cumbersome to wear.
- Universal Fit! The splint can fit on either the left or right foot without issue!
- Subtle Flex! It may not seem to be an extreme flex when fitted correctly, but the gentle stretch has proven effective for other patients.
- No foot base. The only thing supporting the bottom of the foot are the elastic straps, which, while not truly supportive on the arch and heel, may come down to a tactile preference.
- Heel strap may apply much pressure to the Achilles tendon. This can be somewhat remedied by placing soft material between skin and the strap.
- Footpad may cause irritation and localized sweating on the dorsal side of the ankle.
While an intriguing concept, the execution is not as effective as one might hope—the reviews are extremely mixed.
The heel strap being too tight and either cutting into the foot or causing pain in or near the Achilles tendon are common, consistent complaints, meaning it’s likely not worth purchasing.
5. Core Products FootFlexor AFO Foot Drop Brace
The Core Products Foot Drop Brace is the U.S. made, minimalistic design that functions in conjunction with shoes, hooking onto the eyelets of shoes with the central cord.
- Specialized! This brace is specified as being for those that suffer from foot drop, lifting the toe during the walk cycle.
- Comfortable! The material is soft and stretchy.
- Adjustable! Both the ankle strap and the angle of the connectors are customizable to your preferences and needs.
- Universal! Not just interchangeable between legs, but also works with any lace-up shoe (including boots!).
- Flexible! No stiff exterior parts allowing for a better range of motion and more natural mobility.
- Subtle! Not inherently obvious as a brace or support when viewed externally.
- Doesn’t work without shoes. Hence, you are not going to be wearing it around the house in your socks or barefoot.
- Weight put on the ankle. Without exterior support, all of the weight becomes focused on the core strap. This may result in your ankle becoming tired after long periods of wear.
- Sizes run large. Adjustment becomes mandatory rather than optional on the ankle strap.
A wonderful alternative to larger, more substantial braces, this is perhaps the best foot drop brace for casual wear when going out for short periods of time.
6. Blue Jay Drop Foot Brace, Foot Drop Support, Medium
The Foot Drop Support from Blue Jay is a much more archaic-looking style with a solid plastic back and shoe insert. The strap near the top is meant to circle the calf and hold the foot in place.
- Simple! No bells and whistles with this brace. Just slide it into your shoes and go.
- Cheap! This brand is more affordable than most elastic braces.
- Solid! Being made of firm plastic, this brace is unlikely to break and can endure the serious strain and wear.
- Anatomical! Made to mimic the curves of the leg and foot, it prevents pain from developing in the heel or atrophy in the muscles.
- Universal! Works on both left and right legs interchangeably.
- No returns. Once removed from sealed packaging, the store cannot accept returns under any circumstances.
- Stiff. No flexibility in the plastic for bending the ankle. Hard material can also cause bruising on calves if loose.
- General sizing. The plastic is molded into a single size and design with no room for customization in the foot without melting the plastic yourself.
This is a product largely meant for those who are recently diagnosed with drop foot. The brace is usable and effective, but not comfortable and does not fit all sizes. A temporary brace unless you like the feel of it.
7. DJ Orthopedics Foot Drop Brace Universal
DJ Orthopedics’ take on the universal, plastic brace is small and discreet. Designed specifically to fit inside orthopedic shoes, the ankle strap is easy to snap into place.
- Simple! No exterior parts mean there isn’t much getting in the way of using it.
- Unobtrusive! The brace only centers on the ankle, so there is no restriction to knee movement.
- Customization! As a trim-to-fit brace, it’s designed to be fit to your needs and easy to trim.
- Easy to use! No moving parts mean there is nothing that needs adjusting once it’s fitted.
- Universal! Designed to fit most patients, and there are models for each leg.
- Stiff. Made entirely of plastic, there is no flexibility in the foot support, and it is hard to stand on for long periods.
- Slender foot. The design of the foot is a touch narrow and is more likely to fit women than men.
While also a good beginner brace, this one is more open to be adjusted and less in-the-way considering it only rises as high as the ankle.
What to Look for Before Buying a Drop Foot Brace
Perhaps the most important detail to look at when buying drop foot braces is how—and where—they support the foot. There are two main ways how braces gain their support: they either are built to externally support themselves or work using the rest of the leg for support.
Externally supported braces tend to be bulkier and have more “moving parts” as it were. They either need to cover a larger portion of the leg or utilize available, external things like shoes that the patient has available to them already.
Leg-supported foot braces tend to have wraps—either on the calf or ankle—that secure the brace to the body. Most of the lifting stress is placed on these wraps and can result in soreness but tend to be easier to walk with as the body moves the brace in a more natural motion.
What your best drop foot brace might be made of can differ from the brace of someone else.
Braces made entirely of plastics might suit someone who doesn’t mind standing on a hard surface and doesn’t want much flexibility. Elastic straps can grant more adjustment options but are much more likely to slip and need fixing.
Most of the choice in materials depends upon your personal preference and lifestyle. A more flexible brace would be great for someone with a more active lifestyle, while something stiffer and more support would be better for someone who is sedentary.
Comfort is secondary in most brace designs, but there is usually some form of cushioning with foam padding. Even if the brace doesn’t come with its cushion, they are easy to make with household materials and hand-craft.
Sizing requirements change depending on each brace. Those that work with shoes are often measured in those same sizes, but those using ankle braces probably require an ankle measurement.
Even adjustable braces need to be generalized in sizing. Most times, it’s best to run a little large on adjustable braces so they can be tightened to your specifications.
Pay attention to how the seller is sizing their product, so you don’t end up with something too small. Most online stores will be willing to talk to you about fixing a sizing issue, but some are explicit that they do not take returns for any reason.
Braces come in all kinds, but the quality is perhaps the most important one to pay attention to. The quality of the brace as a whole comes down largely to the quality of its parts. Cheaper plastics will bend or break and poor quality elastics, and Velcros lose their effectiveness shortly after usage starts.
Getting a recommendation or being able to handle the products yourself is the best way to determine the build quality of each foot brace. Your orthopedic specialist may have samples of different brands and styles to try.
Quality is difficult to determine while shopping online and viewing things only through photos. If online is the only reliable option, however, then rely on the reviews of each shopping site you visit.
When purchasing your brace, you need to ensure that it is durable. Plastics tend to last the longest while elastics, Velcro and foam padding wears out in a few years depending on the amount of strain placed on each component.
Depending on how often you need the brace, you may need a more durable frame or components. Usage is what wears a brace down, and the quality of your brace largely determines the lifespan of the overall product.
Some cheaper braces come with easily replaced parts like elastic connecting bands or Velcro strips that can be bought in bulk and then used as needed to make the proper adjustments to your brace.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How will I know the brace is right for me?
A. The “rightness” of each individual brace is a highly personal experience. Ask yourself why you want this brace. Is it to lead a more active lifestyle? Is it to stop the pain? Is it to restore mobility but not to exercise with?
You may have more than one affirmative answer and so may require a multipurpose brace or multiple, specialized braces.
But the first step to determining if a brace is for you is to use it. Use it daily and let yourself adjust to the feeling of it. If after a week or two it still feels awkward, then try something different—now armed with the knowledge of what you don’t want.
Q. Does a brace being more expensive mean it is better quality?
A. No, not at all. Some cheaper braces are incredibly high quality considering what you paid for them and some expensive brands try to cut their manufacturing costs by cutting corners with little things without dropping their prices.
It is generally a good idea to see what other people have said in regards to the brace you are choosing. Their experiences can prevent you from buying a product with flimsy parts that may need replacement or repair—either home-done or professional.
Q. Do I need a doctor’s diagnosis before I can buy a drop foot brace?
A. No, although it’s a good idea to check with an orthopedic specialist if you aren’t sure a brace would help. Doctors can also offer different types of braces to try or give prescriptions.
However, this is no reason to not purchase a brace if you feel it would improve your daily living. There are many online orthopedics stores with quality products, representing great companies.
Q. Do I need a night brace?
A. Not necessarily. Night braces can help keep your foot stretched and reduce pain when you first wake up and get out of bed, but they are by no means a must-have if you suffer from drop foot. It all depends on your personal experience with the condition.
Q. When shopping online, what reviews should I pay attention to?
A. As a rule of thumb, longer reviews tend to be better—the writer had to spend time to write their opinion. Even a negative review can be used to highlight potential problems with the product you’re looking at.
There are, of course, long reviews that aren’t useful and those are so-called “rant reviews.” These reviews use strong, emotional language and insult the company and product without giving strong reasons as to why they have such a negative opinion of the product and company.
Choosing the best foot drop brace is something of a personal journey; your needs are individual to you. While the Smart-Step may be the brace with the greatest mobility and build quality listed here, it may not be for you. Ultimately, it’s your body and your choice of how to best take care of it.
Remember to consider important things like the level of support, size, materials, and durability. Ask yourself several questions about what you hope to get from your brace, how often you’ll wear it, and how long you’ll wear it.
In addition, remember to think about the purpose of the brace. Is this brace going to help eliminate pain? Alternatively, is to help you have a more active lifestyle?
Hopefully, these reviews have helped you come to an informed decision for the best drop foot brace for your needs.
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