What Are The Best Shoes for Foot Drop in 2021

If you’re suffering from foot drop, it’s important to have suitable shoes that are supportive, offer you flexibility, and minimize your pain.

We have selected some footwear that covers all of the above and will help you reduce pain and gain more stability.

With this in mind, here are our top 10 picks of the best shoes for foot drop for women and men:+

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What is Foot Drop?

Foot drop, also referred to as drop foot, is an inability to lift the front part of the foot and the ankles, making the person who’s affected drag the front part of their foot on the floor.

This results in poor quality walking, and the sole’s stability is also impaired because of body weight.

All this affects a person’s balance, and the chances of a fall also increase. Sometimes the condition is temporary—depending on the cause—and sometimes, it’s permanent.

Foot drop can happen to one or both feet and at any age. When you have a severe case of foot drop that’s causing pain, it’s advised to wear ankle-foot braces to secure them in the correct position.

Foot Drop Symptoms

The symptoms of foot drop can occur gradually or suddenly, making it difficult to stand and impair balance during walking. Symptoms may vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition.

These are the most common symptoms of foot drop:

  • The front of the foot drags on the ground while walking.
  • Pain and tightness in ankles and legs.
  • Feeling numbness in the toes.
  • Difficulty walking up steps.
  • Tripping due to loss of stability.
  • A limp foot.

Symptoms may be constant or intermittent with periods of normal foot strength and stability in between, depending on the cause.

You can take five simple tests to check if you might be suffering from foot drop; having an assistant will be helpful.

1. Drag or Slap Test

Walk approximately 15 feet and have your assistant watch your feet. They’re looking for your foot to drag or slap on the floor. Also, have them check if your walk alters and if you have any issues with your balance.

2. Heel Walk Test

With the help of a countertop or cane, walk on your heels for approximately 15 feet. Take note if you have difficulty starting the test or are unable to keep your affected foot in the air the entire distance.

If your balance is poor, hold a countertop and try to stand on your heels, lifting your toes off the ground. Take note if your toes are not able to come off the ground or if your toes quickly fall back to the ground.

3. Manual Muscle Test

Sit in a chair with your affected leg in front of you. Try to lift your toes towards your shin, with your heel planted on the ground. If you have difficulty, use your hand—or the handle of a cane—to assist your foot and try to hold it there. If you can’t, that’s an indication that you’re suffering from foot drop.

If you can hold your foot up, press your hand on the top of your foot and see how much pressure it takes to push your foot down. A small amount of force will indicate weakness.

4. Step Up and Down Test

Stand in front of a set of steps. While holding the rail, slowly step up and down on the first step. When you feel confident in your balance, speed up your movements and check if your affected foot is dragging or if your toes are failing to clear the step.

You should not attempt this test if you have poor balance.

5. The Jump Test

Hold on to a countertop to steady yourself, and try to jump off the ground with both feet. If you have foot drop, this won’t be possible, and the affected foot will get left behind.

Again, do not attempt this test if you have poor balance.

Causes of Foot Drop

Different types of illnesses or dysfunctions can cause foot drop.

It’s most commonly caused by nerve injuries, which happens when the peroneal nerves that control the foot nerves are compressed. This can occur during hip or knee replacement surgery, or a pinched nerve in the spine can also be a cause. This most often results in a temporary foot drop condition, and a full recovery is expected in around 3 months.

A brain stroke can also cause foot drop. In this case, the damage to the nerves connected to the foot can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the condition. Other spinal cord and brain disorders can also cause foot drop, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or multiple sclerosis.

Various muscle disorders, such as muscular dystrophy, an inherited disease that causes muscle weakness, can cause foot drop. So can other muscle disorders such as polio.

Risk Factors

Foot drop can happen to anyone at any age. But there are some risk factors that you could consider to prevent it since the most common cause of a foot drop is the compression of the peroneal nerve.

These activities can contribute and increase the chances of compressing the peroneal nerve:

  • Prolonged kneeling: Jobs or occupations that involve prolonged kneeling or squatting can result in a foot drop.
  • Crossing your legs: People who like to cross their legs a lot can compress this nerve in their upper leg.
  • Wearing a leg cast: Casts that enclose around the ankle and end right below the knee can put pressure on the peroneal nerve.

Treatment of Foot Drop

There are various options to treat foot drop, depending on the cause. The most commonly used treatment is an ankle-foot brace, which helps to support the affected foot and keeps it in the right place.

Physical therapy is also very common to exercise and strengthen the muscles and to maintain joint motion. In the case of nerve damage, electronic devices are used to stimulate the peroneal nerve and help speed up recovery.

In more complicated cases with permanent loss of movement, surgery is needed. Surgery fuses the foot and ankle joints or transfers tendons from stronger leg muscles.

 

What Is Suitable Footwear for Foot Drop?

Size

If you have foot drop, your doctor will probably recommend you to wear an ankle-foot brace. So you’ll have to look for shoes that have enough space and are a bit larger to give you extra room.

Extra depth and extra toe room are essential when buying the best shoes for foot drop. You should bring your foot brace with you while shopping to try on the shoes with the brace in place.

Stability

The shoes should offer stability, good grip, and a firm heel to prevent and minimize the chances of falling or slipping. Motion control technology and shock absorbency is also something to look for if you have foot drop.

High-heel or pointed tip shoes are, of course, not suitable or stable for foot drop. But you can still look very stylish even if you can’t wear them.

Sole

It’s vital to pick the best shoes for foot drop with soles that will keep you stable and balanced. Thicker rubber soles are preferred; they’re more supportive and help to keep your balance while walking. Insoles made out of EVA materials are also a great option for foot drop.

For more information on insoles, have a look at our review of the Best Memory Foam Insoles In 2021.

Support and Comfort

Shoes should offer you support and comfort; the shoe soles should be soft and thick enough to relieve pressure on the legs, knees, and feet. Look for arch support compatible with your arch type.

They should also have a soft and breathable upper that fits nicely around your foot.

Check out our article, Best Insoles For High Arches.

Lightweight

Every day, walking with foot drop can feel like you’re dragging a lot of weight with you, and you can get tired pretty quickly. Since people with foot drop have to consciously lift their feet while they walk to reduce dragging them as much, lightweight shoes are a good solution for this problem; the lighter they are, the easier it is to walk and not get tired as fast.

Check out more about shoe weights, and lightweight shoes in our article—How Much Do Shoes Weigh? The Ultimate Guide.

 

Ankle-Foot Brace

Suffering from foot drop makes something as simple as walking very difficult. The doctors will recommend you to wear an ankle-foot brace to support your foot and keep it in its correct place.

The so-called AFO can be made from various materials, including plastic, leather, metal, and carbon composites. The goal is to provide clearance and more stability while the foot is on the ground.

The frame that supports the posterior leg is more flexible and made out of softer materials. The ankle joint support has to be customized perfectly to either block or resist plantar flexion.

Problems with using the AFO may include sizing, discomfort while using it, and difficulty obtaining proper fitting shoes. In some cases, skin sensitivity while wearing the brace can also result in edema.

 

Top 5 Women’s Best Shoes for Foot Drop

Here are our top 5 picks for best shoes for foot drop for women.

Our Overview

Gravity Defyer produced the best shoes for foot drop for women in 2021. They’re stylish and supportive shoes with shock-absorbing features. There’s extra depth and room, which makes them perfect for a foot drop.

Included with these shoes are antimicrobial orthotics that are 5.5 millimeters thick. The seamless interior is brilliant for sensitive feet, and the removable insoles allow you to fit custom orthotic support.

The VeroShock technology absorbs shocks from the ground when walking, allowing for a pleasant, pain-free stroll. Extra depth and room provide space for painful bunions or an ankle-brace if you wear one.

Unfortunately, customers found these shoes to be clunky. Although Gravity DeFyer claims these shoes are true to size, customers have said otherwise, so order a size up.

Pros:
  • Pain relief shoes with VeroShock technology.
  • Look very stylish.
  • Soft soles and seamless interior for sensitive feet.
  • You can replace the insoles with your own orthotic support.

 

Cons:
  • Some customers find the shoes to be heavy.
  • A little on the expensive side.
  • Not true to size.
Our Overview

This is a trendy looking women’s slip-on shoe from Hush Puppies. It’s made from 100 percent leather with orthopedic and support features. It’s excellent quality, very soft, and light to wear.

The Hush Puppies have HP02 flex technology, making these shoes flexible and comfortable. They’re specially designed for women with foot problems such as foot drop or Achilles tendonitis.

Though customers said these shoes were comfortable, they reported a lack of stability due to flimsy material. Also, the grip on the sole isn’t the greatest.

Pros:
  • HP02 Flex technology for more flexibility and a firm fit.
  • Good quality.
  • Good value for money.
  • Made of 100 percent leather, which increases durability.
Cons:
  • Very few colors available.
  • Lack of stability.
  • Flimsy
  • Not enough grip on the sole.
Our Overview

Avia sneakers are great for walking long distances. They’re made of breathable, lightweight, synthetic leather and have soft rubber soles. There’s enough room and depth to put your own orthotics inside these shoes.

The plush memory foam sock liner offers comfort, and the EVA midsole technology provides brilliant shock absorbency. They supply good arch support and have many width options available to accommodate an ankle-foot brace if needed.

However, the durability of these shoes is questionable. Customers have noted that the Avi-verge sneakers run small, and the laces are too long. So if you’re thinking of purchasing a pair, try a size larger and a new set of laces.

Pros:
  • Good arch support.
  • Great for long-distance walking.
  • Breathable.
  • Shock-absorbent EVA midsole.
  • Wide and spacious.
Cons:
  • Only three colors available.
  • Soles wear down pretty quickly
  • Laces too long.
Our Overview

These fashionable women’s sneakers are specially designed for people with various foot problems, including foot drop. Orthofeet is designed to relieve heel and foot pain and have built-in orthotic insoles for anatomical arch support.

The ergonomic design of the shoes, and multiple cushioning layers, provides a very comfortable and soft feel while walking.

They have a wide toe box that comes in several width choices from medium, wide, and extra-wide sizes; this makes them one of the best shoes for foot drop. The width sizes will come in handy if you wear an ankle-foot brace, too.

Though they have a variety of sizes available, customers find that they are not true to size. You should try ordering half a size up. Also, the high back may lead to ankle chafing. Orthofeet sneakers may need breaking in for a perfect fit.

Pros:
  • Ergonomic and Orthopedic design.
  • Extra layers of cushioning for additional comfort.
  • Wide toe box.
  • Many width options are available.
  • Stylish looking women sneakers for everyday use.
Cons:
  • A little bit heavy to wear.
  • Bulky shoes.
  • Breaking in needed.
Our Overview

Ecco women’s sandals are perfect for the summer; they’re open enough for your feet to breathe and still offer enough support when walking.

They’re made out of 100 percent leather, with a synthetic sole, and are very comfortable to use during hot weather. The straps are soft and adjustable and provide support. They’re even wide enough to use if you have your brace on.

However, some people have found the sole too thick and the straps slightly irritating.

Pros:
  • Soft and adjustable straps.
  • Made out of 100 percent leather.
  • Excellent quality.
  • Good value for the price point.
Cons:
  • Soles are too thick.
  • Available only in three colors.

Top 5 Men’s Best Shoes for Foot Drop

Below are our top 5 picks of the best shoes for foot drop for men.

Our Overview

Avia Men’s Avi-Verge Sneakers are our top picks for men’s shoes. They’re good-looking, durable, and of great quality.

These Men’s Avia sneakers offer some similar features to the women’s version; they have durable rubber soles and a synthetic, breathable upper construction that fits nicely around the foot.

Plush memory foam sock liners ensure comfort, and Eva midsole technology provides shock absorbency, making them great for long walking distances. There are a selection of width options to choose from, making them ideal if you wear an ankle-foot brace.

Unfortunately, they aren’t as durable as we would like and lack slip resistance on certain surfaces. They also run slightly small, around half a size.

Avia Men’s Avi-Verge Sneakers are our top picks for men’s shoes. They’re good-looking, durable, and of great quality.

These Men’s Avia sneakers offer some similar features to the women’s version; they have durable rubber soles and a synthetic, breathable upper construction that fits nicely around the foot.

Plush memory foam sock liners ensure comfort, and Eva midsole technology provides shock absorbency, making them great for long walking distances. There are a selection of width options to choose from, making them ideal if you wear an ankle-foot brace.

Unfortunately, they aren’t as durable as we would like and lack slip resistance on certain surfaces. They also run slightly small, around half a size.

Pros:
  • Breathable and lightweight shoes.
  • Good shock absorbency.
  • More width options available.
Cons:
  • Not very durable.
  • Run small.
  • No slip resistance.
Our Overview

The Vionic Fulton Tate Sneakers are comfy and durable. The shoes received an APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) seal of acceptance. With a podiatrist-designed footbed, they promote good stability.

They have a dual-density outsole with a rubber tread that provides excellent traction and an engineered mesh upper. There’s plenty of depth and space, and they come with orthotic arch support.

However, some customers have reported that the insole’s coloring bleeds, staining feet and toes. They’re also slightly tight.

Pros:
  • Stylish shoes.
  • Good stability.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Orthotic arch support.
Cons:
  • Insole color bleeds.
  • Can be tight.
Our Overview

These hush puppies’ slip ons have a thick rubber sole perfect-fit knit lining to restrict movement within the shoe.

Overall, they’re very comfortable shoes and easy to put on. The upper is made of full leather grain, and they have a removable bounce footbed. A five-pod outsole offers cushioning and generous underfoot support.

However, they’re not wide enough to allow for an ankle-foot brace and rather heavy.

Pros:
  • Strobel construction for comfort and flexibility.
  • Removable bounce footbed.
  • Good Quality.
  • Very easy to put on.
Cons:
  • Not wide enough for an ankle-foot brace.
  • Heavy shoes.
Our Overview

Orthofeet has designed therapeutic orthopedic shoes that help reduce joint stress and improve stability. They’re lightweight, ergonomic, and have superior cushioning, with added orthotic insoles for arch support and pain relief.

They have a wide toe box with extended depth and removable insoles to allow for custom orthotics. They’re available in medium, wide, and extra-wide widths for a perfect fitting. Soft, stretchy uppers provide comfort with a non-binding design.

These orthotic shoes are perfect for various conditions, such as diabetic foot, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and, of course, foot drop.

Unfortunately, some customers claim these shoes could be more supportive. They’re also quite pricey.

Pros:
  • Available in many widths.
  • Orthopedic design.
  • Comes with orthotic insoles.
  • Extra cushioning.
Cons:
  • Expensive.
  • Bulky looking shoes.
  • Lacks sufficient support.
Our Overview

These Ecco Men’s sandals are perfect for a stroll on the beach. The straps are made from soft textiles and are adjustable to ensure a good fit and maximum support.

They have stretchy linings for ultimate comfort and durable rubber soles that provide exceptional traction on slippery surfaces. There’s also extra space to allow for an ankle-foot brace.

Unfortunately, a few customers have mentioned an uncomfortable ridge built into the toe area, which can become painful.

Pros:
  • Supportive sandals.
  • Very comfortable.
  • High quality.
  • Adjustable straps.
  • Good value for money.
Cons:
  • Uncomfortable ridge in the area.
  • Synthetic soles can wear down pretty quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Special Shoes for Foot Drop?

Foot drop sufferers recommend buying from brands such as Nike, LA Gear, Hush Puppies, Keen, New Balance, Avia, Orthofeet, or Ecco.

Anything supportive and comfortable or has additional space to accommodate an ankle-foot brace is acceptable.

How Long Does It Take for Foot Drop To Go Away?

Foot drop may improve on its own in around 3 months; it depends on the cause and severity of the condition. It can also be permanent due to severe damage to nerves, muscles, or the brain. However, surgery can sometimes help with permanent cases.

How To Improve Foot Drop?

There are a lot of ways to improve the condition. Physical therapy and nerve stimulation can speed up recovery. An ankle-foot brace that holds the foot in the right position can help, or in more severe and complicated cases, surgery is an option.

What Is The Best Exercise for Foot Drop?

Stretching your muscles in the affected foot is recommended by physical therapists. Toe curls or leg flexes are good exercises you can do on your own. Another exercise recommended by doctors is to sit on the floor, place a cloth or a towel around the foot, hold the towel on both ends, and gently pull your foot towards yourself.

Does Walking Help Foot Drop?

Walking doesn’t necessarily help with foot drop; it’s more important to visit a physical therapist who will give you different exercises to strengthen muscles in the foot and stimulate nerves, improving mobility.

It’s also important to wear an ankle-foot brace, which assists with stability as the chances of a fall increase with foot drop.

What Is The Reason for Foot Drop?

There are different reasons for a foot drop. The most common is nerve damage after knee or hip replacement surgery and compression of the peroneal nerve, which is not permanent and usually resolves pretty quickly on average, in around 3 months.

Other causes are brain and spinal disorders and muscle disorders, which can cause permanent muscle weakness or paralysis resulting in a foot drop.

Is Foot Drop a Disability?

Foot drop caused by progressive neurological or muscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy will be symptoms that will most likely result in a lifelong disability.

 

Final Conclusion

Foot drop can happen to anyone at any age due to many causes. Most cases of foot drop are treatable, at least to some level. The most important thing to consider when purchasing suitable footwear is to go for stable, lightweight shoes with non-slippery soles to prevent any chances of falling.

We chose the Gravity Defyer Womens G-defy Pain Relief Shoes as our number one pick for women. They’re very stylish but also comfortable and offer support for your affected foot. With these shoes, you can be comfortable while walking and look good at the same time.

Our top pick for men’s shoes has to be the Avia Men’s Avi-Verge Sneakers. They’re slip-resistant, high-quality, shock-absorbent, and good for walking long distances. They also come in many width options, which is great if you wear an ankle-foot brace.

With our best shoes for foot drop in 2021, you can have the support and comfort you need, reduce stress and pain to your feet, and turn heads as you walk down the street.

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