When suffering from a foot drop, the most disturbing part is always finding the right comfortable shoe that is supportive, but not too heavy for your feet. The shoes should offer flexibility and support, as well as minimize the pain. A foot drop is not an illness, but a sign that one may be having an underlying muscular or neurological condition. But how do you know when you have a foot drop?
Commonly referred to as drop foot, foot drop is used to describe difficulty lifting in the front foot parts. It occurs when the lower leg is unable to raise the toes and ankle upwards. When suffering from a foot drop, your front foot might be hung down or even drug on the ground as you walk. Sometimes the condition is temporary, but other times it is permanent. When feeling severe pain, you might need to put on braces on your feet and ankles to hold them in the right position.
Causes of Foot Drop
There are three common causes of weakened muscles or nerves that result in foot drop:
Nerve injury— Foot drop may arise when your leg’s peroneal nerves that control muscles are compressed. The nerves may be injured during knee or hip replacement surgery, thus, resulting in foot drop. A pinched nerve injury in the spine may also cause health conditions.
Muscle disorders—Muscle disorders cause muscles to deteriorate or weaken, resulting in foot drop slowly. Such conditions include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and polio.
Spinal cord and brain disorders—Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and cerebral palsy can cause foot drop.
Foot Drop Symptoms
The most common foot drop symptoms include:
- The front foot may drag on the ground as you walk
- The condition will prevent you from lifting the front feet part
- Difficulty in climbing stairs
- The toes and the skin on the upper feet may feel numb
- Ankles and legs feel painful and tight
Foot Drop Treatment
Foot drop treatment requires identifying and treating the underlying medical condition causing it. If the cause is treated, the situation might improve or even disappear.
Nerve surgery may be a helpful treatment strategy for foot drop. In case the condition is long-standing, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure that fuses the foot bones or ankles. Alternatively, the surgery may involve transferring an attached muscle and a functional tendon to the foot.
Another conventional treatment of foot drop is wearing a brace to support the foot in the normal position. It helps to stabilize the ankle and foot and holds the front foot part while walking.
In addition to the treatment options suggested above, physical therapy remains a primary foot drop treatment that strengthens the ankle, foot, and toe muscles. Motion exercises and stretching can also help to avoid stiffness in the heel.
In case the foot drop arises from peroneal nerve damage, the best treatment option may be a functional electrical stimulation. The doctor can surgically implant a small device on your knee to stimulate the nerves’ functioning, causing the feet to function normally, lifting while walking.
Foot drop usually increases the risks of falling or tripping. To avoid these, consider the following precautions:
- Avoid using throw rugs
- Ensure you have well-lit rooms and stairways
- Keep floors away from the clutter
- The walkways should be free from electrical cords
- All the stairs should have fluorescent tape on the steps
Foot Drop Therapy Exercises
Therapy exercises can help improve the foot drop symptoms in the ankle, foot, and lower legs. Foot drop therapy exercises improve balance and range of motion as well as prevent muscle stiffness and injury. With the help of a trained professional, consider the following therapy exercises to reduce foot drop pain.
Towel exercises — Sit on the floor, straighten your legs and, Loop an exercise band or towel around the affected foot and use your hands to hold onto the end. Pull the band or towel towards you and hold for 30 seconds. You can repeat the process up to 5 times.
Toe-to-heel rocks — Stand before a char, wall, or table that can support you. Rock yourself forward and lift your toes while standing. Stay in the position for 5 to 10 seconds. You can repeat the sequence up to 7 or 8 times.
Marble pickup — While sitting on a chair, extend your feet flat on the floor. Place a bowl and 20 marbles on the floor. Using your toes, pick the marbles one-by-one and place them into the pot.
Ankle dorsiflexion — Straighten our legs on the floor. Tie a resistance band on a table or chair then wrap it on the affected foot area. Slowly pull the toes and return to the starting position. You can repeat this process up to 10 times.
Ball lift — While sitting on a chair with both feet flat, place an object on the floor. Hold it between the feet and lift it slowly through leg extension. Then hold it for about 10 seconds and release it. This process can be repeated up to 10 times.
Best Shoes for Foot Drop
Some of the best shoe options for foot drop include:
1. Avia Avi-verge Sneaker
These pair of sneakers gives comfort through their cushioning technology. They are made of lightweight and flexible features, making them fit for foot drop. Avia Avi-verge Sneakers have ample toe room for individuals to use their orthotics. They have plush memory foam sock liner, which gives comfort. Besides, their cushioned EVA midsole can absorb shock, thus, favoring those with foo drop. Combined with a customized lace-up system, the shoe delivers excellent slip-resistance.
- The shoes feature EVA midsole to add comfort
- Has 100% synthetic material, which gives durability and lightweight
- Its rubber sole offers clear grip
- The shoes run small in size
2. Hush Puppies Women’s Heaven Slip-On Shoe
Heaven Slip-On Shoe is one of the best shoes for foot drop from the Hush Puppies brand. The shoe is made of 100% leather and is specially designed for women with foot problems, including foot drop, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis. The shoe is made of the synthetic sole, a leather loafer, and a double-stitched apron toe.
The Hush Puppies shoe also comes with elastic inserts and features HP02 Flex technology. Therefore, it offers safety and flexibility to those with drop foot. The shoe is also made of superior quality, thus, ensuring durability.
- Made of HP02 Flex technology
- Made of 100% leather, which ensures durability
- Its leather loafer features double-stitched apron toe
- Has elastic insets for proper traction
- Some wearers find the toe box very narrow
- Has limited color options
3. Orthofeet Orthopedic Shoes
This foot drop shoe is designed with unique comfort features that support the movement. Orthofeet Orthopedic shoes is made of leather and comes with an orthotic insole to protect the foot. It is made of anatomical arch support that gives extra support to individuals with drop foot.
The shoe also has a cushioning heel pad that offers proper flexibility as one walks. The heel pad also enhances comfort in several parts of the foot. Orthofeet Orthopedic shoe is also perfect for plantar fibroma and plantar fasciitis as it helps prevent pain at the hips, knee, lower back, and heel. Furthermore, these shoes have a unique Ortho-Cushion System that helps to alleviate regular pain.
- The shoe is biomechanically engineered to reduce pain
- Enhances stability and facilitates foot motion
- Has premium orthotic insole for anatomical arch support
- The cushion system prevents foot injur
- Exists only in black color
- Very pricey
4. Z-CoiL Pain Relief Footwear Legend Slip Resistant Enclosed Coil Black Leather Shoe
Z-CoiL Pain Relief Footwear Legend Slip Resistant shoe is considered one of the best shoes for drop foot. It is made of leather, designed for comfort and flexibility. The shoe also has a rubber sole and has a patented coil in the heel section, which reduces impact by 50%.
Because of the features, the shoe can minimize any real foot pain, including pain in the back and leg. Additionally, the footwear has an in-built orthotic protect that supports the foot since it prevents foot pain in various joints. The shoe front also has an additional cushioning layer that protects the foot and toes.
- The shoe offers protection and support to the feet, which helps to eliminate foot pain
- It has extra cushioning at the front to enable smooth movement
- The shoe has a rocker bottom, full toe box, and forefoot flex line that prevent foot pressure or pain
- This shoe is only available in black color.
5. Vionic Men’s Contest Active Lace Up Shoe
Made of Vionic’s technology, this shoe was created with high quality. The technology gives users maximum support. A unique feature in this shoe is the excellent room it offers, which can allow for orthotics inserts. It also has removable EVA insoles that allow for flexible movement.
- The upper part of the shoe is made of mesh that enhances comfort
- It has dual-density EVA insoles, which are removable
- It has three major pressure points for extra support
- It has low durability compared to other shoe types
6. ECCO Women’s Damara Crisscross Flat Sandal
ECCO is a renowned brand in the footwear industry because of its designed quality shoes. The foot drop shoe is made of leather and synthetic sole to enhance durability. Its upperparts are made of soft and natural texture accompanied by a luxurious yet casual look.
With an EVA footbed cushioning, this shoe offers a supportive fit to users with drop foot. It also has moisture-wicking microfiber material that gives a soft and dry feel to the feet. The more the cushioning feel, the more comfortable you become.
- The shoe is soft and comfortable and gives a luxurious yet casual look
- It has leather upper and synthetic sole, which offer proper support and comfort
- Gives a supportive fit for secure and safer movement
- Has cushioning EVA insole covered using moisture-wicking microfiber
- Has single density outsole giving it a lightweight and flexible feature
- Not recommended for narrow feet
Features of Best Shoes for Foot Drop
When one has a foot drop, it can be quite challenging to walk. That is why you need to understand the features that are necessary for a foot drop shoe. Some of the key features include:
When suffering from foot drop, your doctor may recommend using Ankle-Foot-Orthosis (AFO) device such as an elevated brace to wear shoes. So the shoe chosen should be able to accommodate the equipment. The shoe should have both extra depth and room so that you can comfortably wiggle your toes whenever you put them on.
Foot drop shoes should offer support depending on the arch-type of the use. It should support the fascia ligament to reduce pain or plantar fasciitis. When it comes to the feet alignment, the shoe should be able to help whenever the user touches the ground. Also, the midsole should offer to cushion.
Foot drop shoes should have soles that enhance stability and be excellent shock absorbers. The shoes should be able to relieve pressure points on the knees, legs, and feet. The shoes should offer grip on your heel to avoid slipping during movement. If possible, the shoe should have a motion control feature.
Breathability and Comfort
The best pair of shoes for individuals with foot drop should have breathable upper parts to ensure that they remain cool and dry. The shoe should also enhance comfort to the wearer; this can be achieved by providing that the shoe fits perfectly. Also, the shoe should snug, but not tight, and be long and wide enough.
The soles of the shoe also matter. Ensure that the boots are steady to keep you protected against any harmful environments. It should offer grip whenever needed.