A Guide to Your Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)

What is an AFO?

AFOs or “Ankle Foot Orthoses” are plastic splints which are made to keep feet and ankles in a good position for standing and walking. They may be worn on one foot or both feet. They may have a joint or hinge at the ankle or they may be fixed in one position.Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)

What are they prescribed for?

AFO’s are prescribed for a number of reasons:

  • To realign and control the ankle and foot joints.
  • To provide support to weakened joints or muscles
  • To stop or limit abnormal motion
  • To provide protection
  • To help control abnormal muscle tone

What should be worn under the splint (AFO)?

It is advisable to wear long cotton socks or tights under the AFO which are:

  • Well fitting
  • Un-patterned
  • Made from cotton rich material
  • Long enough to cover all the areas of the skin, which come into contact with the splint
  • Pulled up firmly to eliminate creases

Do I need to buy special shoes?

You will need to buy some shoes to fit over the AFO. They do not need to be expensive, ordinary trainers or shoes are fine. Look for shoes with laces that reach down as far to the toes as possible or shoes that are deep and have adequate width (sometimes taking the inside sole out creates extra space).

  • Take your AFO with you when you buy shoes

Do not wear your AFO without shoes as they can be slippery or hazardous

Putting on your AFO:

  1. Sit down to put on you AFO. Pull up your socks and make sure there are no wrinkles in them.
  2. Place your heel at the back of the AFO, and then fasten the heel retaining strap snugly. Check that the heel is in place.
  3. Finally fasten the top strap and put on the shoe.

How long should they be worn?

At first, the AFO may feel uncomfortable so you should gradually wear them in using the following schedule.

  • Day 1: 30-60 minutes Day 3: 3-4 hours
  • Day 2: 1-2 hours Day 4: 4-5 hours

Your orthotist will tell you how long you should build up to, or what activities to wear them for. Some people wear them for a few hours, while others wear them all day or at night.

What about red marks?

  • You should check the skin around the foot and ankle every time you take the splints off
  • It is normal to see red marks where pressure has been applied. These should disappear within 30mins
  • If you notice any sores or blistering you should stop using the splints and contact your physiotherapist or orthotist for advice as they may need adjusting.

Care of your AFO:

You can clean AFO’s by wiping with a damp cloth. Dry it with a towel or leave it to dry naturally. The straps may discolour with use but this does not affect the function of the splint. If you have any problems with your AFO contact your orthotist.


The Ankle Foot Orthosis supplied is considered the most appropriate for your condition. You may discuss alternative orthoses with the orthotist.

Orthotic Department tel: 01582 497198.