What’s worse (or more frustrating) than having shin splints? One of the running’s fair share of disadvantages - shin splints can drive runners crazy and even lead to significant injuries including stress fractures. For those who often deal with serious throbbing or pain in the shins, the right training and the right running shoes is the best way to keep running without worrying about the pain.
Many athletes get painful shin splints -- an injury of the Tibia’s inside border – or, in simple words, of the shin bone -- at one time or another. Luckily for most, you can avoid shin splints by investing in the right running shoes designed for shin splints.
Before determining the best shoes buy, first you need to understand what shin splints are, their major causes, prevention, and treatment measures (best insoles for shin splints and best compression socks for shin splints). Keep on reading to find them all in our article!
TOP 3 BEST AND FAVORITES SHOES FOR SHIN SPLINTS
Nike Air Zoom Vomero
Brooks Ravenna 9
Hoka One One Clifton 5
What are shin splints?
Shin splints (or medial tibial stress syndrome) are the catch-all term referring to a common exercise-related problem. It is a deep, muscular pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia) can drive runners crazy. And especially if you are just starting a fitness program or switching from running on flat surfaces to hills, it can lead to significant injuries such as stress fractures.
That nagging pain concentrated either on the inside of the leg (medial shin splints) or the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints), shin splints typically develop after physical activity and when you press on the area.
Shin splints are often associated with running, yet any vigorous sports activity can bring on shin splints. Pain in the shin, as well as reduced flex to the toes and upwards are some of the signs and symptoms associated with this condition. The pain can usually be so bad that you cannot run and then it subsides right after you stop running.
What causes shin splints?
Concentrating in the lower leg between the knee and ankle, shin splints is a nasty, painful condition that makes every step of every run a nightmare. Your doctor may refer to the condition as the nature of shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). The damage to the muscles, tendons or bone tissue around your shin most often can be captured in four words: too much, too soon.
But how can you diagnose exactly a shin splint condition? As an accurate diagnosis is very important, my recommendation is to visit a specialist/medical doctor who can determine your condition. Your doctor will examine your lower leg after discussing your symptoms and medical history.
In general, shin splints develop when there are excessive amounts of force on the shin bone and the bone tissue (periosteum) attaching the shin bone to the muscles surrounding it. Sometimes, there are other existing problems that can have an impact on healing.
Your doctor may order additional imaging tests to rule out a number of other factors at work, such as stress fractures, overpronation (a frequent cause of medial shin splints), inadequate stretching, tendinitis, worn shoes, chronic exertional compartment syndrome, or excessive stress placed on one leg or one hip from running on cambered roads or always running in the same direction on a track.
To determine the best running shoes to buy, it is important to know the prevalent causes of shin splints, which range from a big increase in your activity levels to weak muscles in the legs. Below are potential causes of a runner having shin splints. So, check carefully to ensure you keep your running free of lower leg distress.
- An abrupt change in your workout regimen, such as starting a new exercise plan, more intense, more frequent, or longer workouts, or suddenly adding too much mileage or increasing the distance or pace you run
- Always running in the same direction on a track or running on hard or uneven surfaces
- Exercising with poorly fitting or worn-out trainers (the flattening-out arch or the rolling-inward foot) that don’t cushion and support your feet well
- Being overweight – that adds more pressures on your legs
- Having flat feet or or abnormally rigid arches (known as over-pronation) when the impact of a step makes your foot's arch collapse
- Having pre-existing muscle imbalance like taut calf muscles and hamstrings, weak ankles, hips, or core muscles, or a tight achilles tendon (the band of tissue connecting the heel to the calf muscle)
- Working out without warm up or cool down stretches
- Poor core stability
- Weak quadriceps or foot arch muscles
- Medial tibial stress syndrome (stress on your shin bone) – it’s thought that repeated pounding and stress on the bones, muscles, and joints of the lower legs may cause injury to the bone tissue and the periosteum, the membrane covering it
- Not building your mileage gradually enough
- Stress fractures – small breaks in your tibia, caused by stress on the bone.
How to treat shin splints?
Shin splints is a cumulative stress disorder that it can take a long time to overcome. If runners, dancers, or military recruits are unfortunate enough to suffer from the issue it can sideline them for weeks and ruin any training plans they might have. Fortunately, medical specialists agree on how to treat them.
Let’s see how to give yourself the best shot at staying shin splints-free.
Employ dynamic rest - As you might expect, shin splints are typically caused by overuse and usually experienced during and after exercise, one leg is involved, and it is almost always the runner’s dominant one.
Therefore, an effective way to treat shin splints is resting your legs.
Standard treatment includes stop running and the activity that causes the pain and several weeks of rest. If you want to continue running, use either tape or an ace bandage to wrap your leg before going out and make sure to keep wrapping your leg till the pain goes away that usually takes three to six weeks. Though keeping exercising during this spell is possible, in bad cases you must rule out running for up to three months.
During your recovery, you can engage in some lower impact types of aerobic activity that are less likely to cause additional harm to your legs like swimming, walking, stationary cycling, or an elliptical trainer.
Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
To reduce pain and swelling, you can use anti-inflammatory painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and acetaminophen
Ice your shin
To help relieve the pain, use a cold pack for 10-20 minutes at a time and repeat it several times a day if you need to. Wrap the ice-pack in a towel instead of applying ice directly to the skin.
Wear elastic compression bandages
To prevent additional swelling, wearing an elastic compression bandage is not a bad idea.
To treat and prevent shin splints, you can stretch your lower leg muscles - your calf, shin, and hamstring muscles - regularly, as well as strengthen your glutes, core, and quads. These exercises good for both recovery and prevention should be done at least three times a day.
To reduce stress in your shins, make sure to wear the correct running shoes for your foot type specifically with good cushioning during daily activities. Motion-control shoes that support to feet, especially the lower part of the legs are the best choice for overpronators. Flat-footed runner or those having recurrent problems with shin splints may need orthotics.
Use insoles or orthotics for your shoes
Severe overpronators may benefit from orthotics. Shoe inserts -- which can be custom-made or bought off the shelf -- can help align and stabilize your foot and ankle, hence bring relief to the feet and prevent further pain caused by shin splints.
Restart any activities. Shin splints usually resolve with rest and the simple treatments described above. Before restarting any activities, you should be pain-free for at least 2 weeks and check with your doctor.
Keep in mind that after returning to exercise, you should not be exercising as often as you did before or for the same length of time and you must increase your mileage slowly, even more slowly than before, no more than 10 percent weekly.
To make sure your legs aren’t sore, be sure to warm up and stretch thoroughly before exercising. Increase training gradually. To let your shin heal, consider cross-training for a while. Stop exercising immediately if you start to feel the same pain. Ice your shin to reduce inflammation and rest for a day or two.
As shin splints often heal on their own, not many people need surgery for them. See a doctor if these measures don’t help. If you see an expert, expect to get a thorough physical exam including X-rays or bone scans to look for fractures. Surgery has been done in very severe cases that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Yet no one is sure about the effect of the surgery.
10 Best Running Shoes for Shin Splints
While we are neither medical doctors nor trained coaches, we all know that it can really make a world of difference with shin pain by wearing the right footwear. That’s why we’re here to help you find answer for this question: what are the top 10 best running shoes for shin splints?
Attractive and comfy, below are the very best running shoes for shin splints. Even though these sneakers are not flawless, they have a lot of good things going for them, and we have to highly recommend them.
1. Nike Air Zoom Vomero - Best neutral running shoes for shin splits
While the Nike Air Shoes have been providing runners with optimum comfort for more than 3 decades, the Nike Air Vomero 13 might actually be the best looking one on the list of the best neutral shoes for runners with shin splits.
The Nike Air Vomero 13 is a very pretty and sleek pair of shoes, no matter which color combination you chose (there are 13 of them).
With an EVA foam midsole with a Lunarlon core for a cushioned landing, the springy and responsive underfoot cushioning unit, and flywire strap-based lacing on the upper for a supportive fit, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 is more comfortable than ever before. But best of all is the softness of the sneaker. It wraps the foot in cozy cushioning to keep you strong and light and super soft on your feet. The long running, plush sneaker from Nike makes every run feel like running on pillows.
Looking great in one of the best running shoe for shin pain, the Vomero 13 can sustain a pounding and can log a lot of miles.
The one drawback to the shoe is that the forefoot section felt a bit narrow. However, like the 12 model, the Vomero 13 flexes near the mid-foot instead.
2. Brooks Ravenna 9 - Best Stability Running Shoes for Shin Splints
A masterpiece of Brooks – a well-known company selling footwear in over 60 countries all over the world, the Brooks Women's Ravenna 9 will definitely satisfy all runners, especially those suffering from shin splints. They are made so well that they are not only comfortable but also provide sufficient arch support. Also, they come with a variety of features to make running an activity to enjoy.
The Brooks Women's Ravenna 9 maintains the moderate support of previous versions in its upper yet is bouncier, lighter, and faster compared to other Brooks running shoes. The midsole changes have made the Ravenna 9 lighter-weight but less supportive underfoot and the use of BioMoGo DNA in the midsole for cushioning making it a shoe that delivers fantastic stability even on steep roads.
Besides all of the excellent features, the great design is also a reason why Brooks is the top selling shoe brand in specialty stores.
Designed for the mildly pronating runner, the Brooks Women's Ravenna 9 is always a great choice whether you are training for the next level of a marathon or mud run event, or you are simply taking the first steps towards a better you.
Because of its cushion and comfort, the Ravenna 9 is a new, ‘upgraded’ model is worth buying over its previous edition. Energize your ride with a rush that keeps you going mile after mile, each time you lace into the Brooks Ravenna 9 running shoe!
3. Hoka One One Clifton 5 - most cushioned shoes for shin splints
True to its award-winning heritage, this latest version of the Clifton will be at the top of the list of both Hoka fans and new users. The Hoka One One Clifton 5 is loved by many for having improved upon an already smooth and cushioned ride by adding increased rebound in the midsole material.
The famed Hoka One One midsole geometry and a trusted foam package to ensure consistent cushioning through the life of the shoe help it hit the sweet spot – the balance of weight, cushioning, and liveliness in a soft bouncy way. It started out as a shoe that weighs less than 9.9 oz and provides so much cushion at that weight.
Actually, it is hard to comprehend when you put it on. While the Clifton 5 appears more like mainstream models, all of its max-cushioning power is intact.
When it comes to design, we have no complaints. In addition to the Clifton 5's surprising new look, which will turn heads, the shoes are also very colorful and attractive. It shares a similar blue and yellow colorway with many other 2018 models.
There are lots of little details here, like the mesh surface which allows your feet to breathe while running or the slightly firmer midsole intended to also be more durable. The fine tightly woven engineered mesh upper with plenty of openings for breathability also leaves conventional mesh behind, manages the moisture, and offers some protection, with the outsoles being made with a touch less rubber in the center and deeper flex grooves.
We should also mention the forgiving and adaptive forefoot and a new rubber pattern underfoot designed to help the shoe last longer.
It has a 24mm forefoot stack height that combines with a 29mm heel stack height to give you a 5mm drop. This most popular Hoka One One shoe utilizes Meta-Rocker technology to provide a comfortable and stable fit while still encouraging forward movement. In addition, the Hoka One One Men's Clifton 5 is a moderately priced model. Feel fast and don’t break the bank with the Clifton 5.
4. Nike Free 5.0 Running Shoes
A flexible shoe with a more conventional heel-to-toe drop, Nike Free 5.0 is an awesome option for those that want to transition to a more minimalist shoe or those who are looking for a decent amount of support, but still want to know their feet are working.
Made for the trails—the spiritual homeland for the maximalist footwear pioneer—the Nike Free 5.0 Running Shoe – which is often marketed as “minimalist” - is shockingly lightweight with plenty of good amount of responsive and springy cushioning to comfortably enjoy shorter runs in, the awesome flexibility, and a lace-up closure system to ensure the laces aren’t flying about on the trail.
The successor for the Free Run 3, Nike Free 5.0 Running Shoe is anticipated being rated as one of the top 10 running shoes for shin splints. This synthetic-and-mesh shoe captures the hearts and shins of trail runners and for good reason. Even though still retaining the same superbendy sole found on the Run+ 3, 5.0 offers a much more substantial platform underfoot than the 3.0 and 4.0 models.
Moreover, the breathability of the upper fabrics is designed to satisfy runners who want to keep their feet cool and dry throughout the running session and upper unit agreeable to the shape of the foot as well as the flexible nature of the underfoot platform is designed to help protect the foot from the punishing forces of surface contact by absorbing impact.
It is so flexible that it can be rolled up into a ball or twisted almost completely around. Unstructured and flexible as expected, the Nike Free 5.0 performs well for a lot of runners, especially for the biomechanically efficient ones.
5. Saucony Guide 10 Running Shoes
An American manufacturer of athletic shoes with more than 100 years of experience, Saucony is one of the world’s most well-known companies providing the footwear worldwide famous for their comfort and flexibility.
And that’s also the case here - the Saucony Guide - one of their most popular models. Scoring for cushioning and stability rated higher than for the Guide 9, the newly designed upper for the 10th version of the Guide reduces pronation tendencies and offers reliable responsiveness.
The use of a Saucony’s Everun landing zone and an Everun topsole provides a responsive, energetic, and cushioning run, especially for someone with shin splins. Working like Adidas’ Boost foam, the Everun foam not only retains a lot of energy but also remains lightweight.
The upper with a refreshed design features a no-sew engineered mesh with Lightweight FLEXFILM overlays for structure and support. The outsole with an aggressive Tri-Flex pattern is designed for greater ground contact, ample traction, and stability by increasing the flexibility under the forefoot.
Lightweight, protective, super durable, and incredibly lasting comfort in a great daily supportive running shoe, the Saucony Guide 10 is a solid update to the long-running series of stability shoes. The shoe performs a responsive ride thanks to its suitably soft yet long-lasting cushioning system, FLEXFILM, EVERUN top sole construction, tri-flex outsole design, and engineered mesh upper. Runners who need mild support while still maintaining great overall performance will find the Guide 10 an excellent choice.
In spite of a new set of upper, midsole, and outsole, the Guide 10 still receives many complaints about its size. Compared with other shoes of the same size, the Guide 10 fits on the tighter side and looks like it runs at least a full size, and maybe even a full size and a half, shorter. So, it is a good idea to try a half size up.
6. Adidas Performance Ultra Boost
This running shoe is part of the Ultra Boost line from Adidas, which utilizes the Boost technology to charge each step with speed and flexibility. The energy-returning boost™ technology receives a lot of praise from many runners as, for them, it was able to naturally deliver responsive underfoot cushioning and give them a more comfortable fit while they run as well as reduce irritation.
When it comes to the design, Adidas should be the best. Their footwear always looks great and Adidas Performance Ultra Boost is not exception. The Adidas Ultra Boost is welcomed by so many runners for its appealing look, its durable components, its breathability, its equally durable upper, and the responsiveness of its full length Boost midsole. In terms of energy return-how quickly the sole recovers its form after each footstrike, more cushioning costs a bit.
For serious runners who are looking to experience Boost cushioning, they'd be far better served wearing other shoes in Adidas' line
Moreover, the Adidas Performance Ultra Boost comes in a lot of different color combinations making it great for both running and casual use.
7. ASICS Gel Kayano 25 Running Shoes
Continuing to live up to the lofty standards set by its predecessors, the ASICS Gel Kayano 25 Running Shoe is a new, ‘upgraded’ model worth buying over its previous edition. A much firmer ride and a toe-box fit quality not only make the GEL-Kayano 25 different from its previous versions but also give you a great base for your workout.
It contains tri-density midsole with forefoot and heel Gel inserts that’s perfect for a cushioned landing and outsole with hard carbon rubber under heel, softer blown rubber under forefoot for a bouncy launch forward.
Thanks to an influx of some technologies making it lighter and more durable while still remaining to be very well-cushioned and stable, the 23rd version of the ASICS Gel Kayano continues to be the flagship of ASICS robust stability line.
A new cushioning material underfoot, a new midsole (FlyteFoam) comprised of reinforced fibers for the optimal balance of lightweight cushioning comfort for a luxurious ride and long-distance runs - which is supposed to be a little lighter and firmer, and the META CLUTCH ™ technology coupled with the GUIDANCE TRUSSTIC SYSTEM ™ technology to provide a step free of tensing toes and irritated heels and create improved heel fitting environment make the 25th-anniversary edition of this classic synonymous with stability shoe.
The downside of the ASICS 25? Yes, don’t expect a low price (in-line with other quality stability shoes)! But if you are not willing to replace this shoe often, the ASICS Gel Kayano 25 which gives a great, cushioned ride is a fantastic choice for your shin splint woes.
8. Saucony Triumph Iso - Good Neutral Running Shoes for Shin Splints
Saucony Men's Triumph Iso Running Shoe is part of the ISO line from Saucony, which utilizes ISOFIT technology to provide a comfortable fit and a more consistent ride from the heel to toe. It has a 20mm forefoot stack height that combines with a 28mm heel stack height to give you an 8mm drop.
The use of a full-length Everun midsole instead of the hybrid EVA foam+Everun set-up last year provides a responsive run for someone with shin splins. The Everun foam works like Adidas’ Boost foam and retains a lot of energy while remaining lightweight (the same for men and plus about half an ounce for women). The colar foam is softened so the shoe will feel better around the ankle.
The outsole uses the same rubber material as in previous models yet has an aggressive changed Tri-Flex pattern that provides ample traction and stability. And the super comfortable ISO upper makes the shoe fit like a sock.
The Triumph ISO has been a top-of-the-line trainer that can log tons of miles and just keep going since its re-launch from the Triumph 11 a few years ago. And that’s for good reason. Blending excellent stability from overpronation while still maintaining great overall performance, the Triumph ISO is the perfect choice for the runners with shin splints who wants to fix their ailments on a super comfortable ride.
Also read: Top Lightweight Running Shoes
9. Brooks Glycerin 16 - The best daily shoe for Shin Splints
One of the classics in Brooks Running's lineage, the Brooks Glycerin 16 is a maximum cushion trainer with flexibility to push the pace while needed and to withstand long miles while remaining comfortable. If you are a huge fan of the Brooks Glycerin 15, you can easily realize the biggest update in the new DNA Loft cushion.
The Glycerin 16 is a neutral-oriented road running shoe built with a premium interior feel and superior cushioning which is a finely calibrated mix of DNA foam, air, and rubber engineered to provide a softer feeling underfoot still remaining responsiveness and durability.
The 16th edition of this plush training shoe is the best model of its lineage thanks to a few significant improvements. Some of them are an all-new design, the new DNA LOFT transition zones to move you from heel to toe softly and efficiently, the double knit upper made from a Jacquard Warp material - which was chosen for its flexibility, breathability, and support, a double jacquard mesh, which offers the foot a breathable and flexible environment as well as the cushioning great for long-distance running.
With significant updates in the upper and midsole, the 16th iteration of the Glycerin model is the most cushioned shoe and it is built to withstand high milage while providing a smoother heel-to-toe transition and comfortable and soft ride.
Moreover, a traditional lace-up closure system: the round, elastic laces that help a lot when it comes to securing the midfoot comfortably also makes the Brooks Glycerin gain overwhelming positive feedback from its users. Without any doubt, the Brooks Glycerin 16 which delivers impressive performance on the road is a fantastic road shoe for you, no matter what your skill or experience level as a runner.
10. New Balance 890v6 Running Shoes
If you thought the 890 from New Balance couldn’t get any better, get ready for their latest “super comfort performance fit” edition. The step in feel on the latest 890 is super sweet! The faster you run, the zippier the 890 V6 feels.
Returning with a list of improvements from its predecessors, the 890 V6 receives so many praises with special notes on its responsive cushioning, stylish design, and overall fit. A new version with an engineered mesh upper and a better internal bootie design is a bit more versatile with more cushioning and protection.
The New Balance 890 V6 works well for those up tempo runs, as your go-to race choice, or—as some testers noted—for everyday wear as it looks cool, too due to its excellent form, which lends it to perform beautifully on foot.
New Balance updates the midsole foam to protect feet from repetitive impact forces that occurs running on hard, smooth surfaces and removes some foam under the heel, which makes this version slightly firmer. Another reason that makes the New Balance 890 a fan favourite is its stripped-down, modern look. The sixth version of the New Balance 890 retaining the high-level speed and wearability is one of the top 10 running shoes for shin splints.
Insoles for shin splints
If you are experiencing pain or tenderness along the front of your lower leg/shin bone, you may have shin splints. To prevent shin splints from ever arising rather than trying to deal with them after the fact and really relieve my discomfort, it’s important to take measures. A good news for most shin splints sufferers - those who are beginning a new type of exercise, or stepping up the intensity of their current workout cycle - is that they can achieve shin splint pain relief.
Frequently, orthotic inserts or insoles designed to help support arches and absorb the shock of high-impact exercise are recommended for people suffering with shin splints. However, different foot types as well as different actual causes of the condition require different choices of insole.
But how can you pick the right arch support insoles for shin splints to help you prevent getting shin splints, as well as minimizing your chance of incurring an injury while running? The Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Insoles and Spenco Polysorb Walker Runner Insoles which provide a 44% energy return in the heel strike area are perfect choices for those who are seeking a cushion insole. Meanwhile, the Sof Sole Athlete and Sof Sole Arch Performance Insoles which offer superb cushioning to help absorb the impact are also favorite products.
Compression socks for shin splints
If you often feel sore or achy in your lower legs or feet, especially if you are an athlete or spend a lot of time on running, hiking, walking, and other day-to-day activities, you might want to consider compression socks, which relieve debilitating shin pain while preventing further injury to the calves and shins.
By delivering gentle, graduated compression, these sleeves provide support and increase blood flow in the muscles in your lower leg to injured tissue, hence reduce the chances of pain, discomfort, and inflammation as well as encourage faster recovery. Through the power of graduated compression, they can bring immediate relief. For those who are affected by shin splints, my advice is to invest in a quality pair of compression socks. Don’t let shin splints hold you back.
FAQ About Running & Shin Splints
How do you prevent shin splints?
Though you have plenty things to do to treat shin splints, certainly it’s far better to prevent them altogether. Start by making sure you’ve got the right kit.
1. Wear a proper fitting athletic shoe: determine the shape of your foot using the "wet test" and try switching to a shoe that limits pronation. Arch supports can help as well.
2. Up your calcium and vitamin D intakes: Try 1,300 milligrams of calcium and 400 micrograms of D per day. Milk, egg, beef, mushroom, and yogurt are easy food sources high in vitamin D.
3. Engage in hip and core training: Strengthening these areas will make you a stronger runner. Toe exercises help build calf muscles and body mechanics.
4. Use shock-absorbing insoles and shorten your running stride.
Who is at risk for shin splints?
Shin splints are painful and disrupt training regimes more likely to occur when your leg muscles and tendons are tired. This painful and aggravating condition can affect anyone from women, middle age runners on the sidewalk, and people with flat feet (navicular drop >10 mm) or rigid arches to athletes, military recruits, basketball players in the NCAA tournament, and dancers. They all have an increased likelihood of developing shin splints.
What are the best exercises for shin splints?
- Toe stretch
- Leg muscle stretch
- Alternate walking with heels on and regular walking (each for a maximum of 30 seconds)
Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints can occur when the bones, muscles, and joints of the lower leg endure constant pounding and stress.
However, they are not a serious condition and may be alleviated with a right shoe with the right amount of stability and cushioning to encourage movement while maintaining a comfortable foot strike.
Let’s see our recommendations on the very best running shoes for shin splints.