Best Shoes for Shin Splints Reviewed & Rated
As beneficial as running can be for our physical and even mental health, there are inherent risks to running as well. One of the most common risks is developing shin splints. Shin splints can be a huge deterrent to running, making us want to give up on the whole enterprise. While we’re not exactly sure what causes them and why some people are more prone to them than others, one factor that can lead to or agitate shin splints is improper footwear. No shoe can guarantee that you won’t experience shin splints, but we’ve compiled a list of running shoes that we believe will help keep you from being plagued by them.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
Gender Specific Cushioning
Forefoot & Heel Gel Infusion
- Asics Gel Kayano 21
- Brooks Ghost 9
- Asics GEL-Quantum 360
- Saucony Triumph ISO
- Salomon Speedcross 4
- Saucony Cohesion 10
- Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
- Mizuno Wave Rider 18
- New Balance M940V2
- Nike Free 5.0
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Shoes for Shin Splints
1. Asics Gel Kayano 21
Gender Specific Cushioning
Forefoot & Heel Gel Infusion
May Run Narrow
The Kayano 21s are a favorite pick for those with shin splints. With added cushioning and advanced support, these are designed to help you have less painful runs.Read more
The Kayano designers added FluidRide cushioning in the rear and forefoot to help comfort your feet and legs. The moisture-wicking and breathable insoles are made from durable rubber that help to absorb impact to relieve pressure on your feet.
The Gel comfort in the heel is made to fit gender-specific feet, to give better support and comfort.
Cost and Value
The Kayano 21s are priced moderately in the pack. They are a good value for the support they provide but might also be more expensive than you're willing to spend right now. It will depend on your situation.
2. Brooks Ghost 9
Breathable Mesh Upper
Lightweight Synthetic Construction
Removable Foam Insole
Designed for neutral runners and under-pronators, the Brooks Ghost 9 is meant to help improve your run as you "watch the miles disappear behind you" (get it? Ghost?). These lightweight runners provide the perfect amount of cushion to help your feet stay comfortable and combine the best of fit and function to give you a running shoe that will keep you going.Read more
Too much cushion can be a bad thing when you're trying to keep your feet stable, but the Ghost 9 provides the perfect amount of cushioning to help energize you as you run. Great for those slowly adding mileage on, and durable enough for marathon training without losing cushion, they’re made for the long haul.
You'll also want to avoid a shoe that is too rigid if you're looking to reduce shin splints. The Ghost 9's Omega Flex grooves provide maximum flexibility and help your foot move in a more natural way.
Cost and Value
The Ghost 9 by Brooks is a very affordable shoe. They'll cost you about as much as your typical running shoes will, but they'll provide you with better support for running, which will help you avoid shin splints.
3. Asics GEL-Quantum 360
GEL Cushioning System
Full-Length Trusstic System
Breathable & Comfortable
A Little Heavy
Wide Toe Box
ASICS has a reputation for creating quality running shoes, and the Quantum 360 is a great example of a shoe that performs as it should. These shoes are designed for comfort and stability, two qualities that are crucial for extended and pain-free runs. From the shock-absorbing soles to the comfort-fit uppers, every element of this shoe has been designed with your feet in mind.Read more
Thanks to the Quantum 360’s unique Fluidfit mesh upper and rearfoot and forefoot GEL cushioning system, the folks at ASICS have provided a shoe that will keep your feet secure and comfortable while you run.
These shoes are not only designed from lightweight materials, but they also come with uppers that fit and support your foot so well that you’ll barely notice you’re wearing shoes when you run.
Cost and Value
The Quantum 360s are in the middle of our price range, but considering all the technology that’s packed into this shoe, we think it’s a great deal from toe to heel. ASICS is known for their GEL technologies which have proven time and again to give a comfortable ride, and for those with shin splints, or looking to avoid them, it’s a great purchase to consider.
4. Saucony Triumph ISO
Molds To Your Foot Shape
Wicks Away Moisture
Sizing Runs Small
Bit More Expensive
Our second entry from Saucony is the Triumph ISO running shoe. This shoe represents the best in upper construction and engineering and boasts a fit that is dynamic and adaptable, a quality that your feet will thank you for when you’re out on a long run. These shoes are made to work with you and for you when you run. We’ll take all the help we can get!Read more
Thanks to the ISOFIT inner, the Triumph ISO has one of the best fits on the market. This shoe has a floating support cage that cradles your foot and is designed to conform to your foot as you wear it.
Saucony has combined Powerfoam material with their patented GRID technology to produce a shoe that keeps your foot centered, absorbs the impact from surface contact, and distributes pressure so your feet won’t have to bear the brunt of your next run.
Cost and Value
These shoes are in our mid-range of price as well. If you’ve been running for a while with cheaper shoes and aren’t happy with the results, we suggest giving the Triumph ISO a shot!
5. Salomon Speedcross 4
Sensifit System= Precise Fit
Quick-Drying Mesh Uppers
Quicklace Closure System
Limited Size Options
May Run Big
Near the top of our list is the Speedcross 3 by Salomon. This shoe is designed to fit snuggly on your foot and give you the stability you need when you’re running to help prevent injuries like shin splints. Its lightweight and water-resistant design will allow you to run longer and farther and will keep you safe whether you’re on the road or a trail.Read more
The Speedcross 3 has a unique Sensifit fitting system that helps cradle your foot and give you the stability you need when you’re running to help prevent you from getting those nasty shin splints. Compared to its predecessor, however, the heel cup may not fit as snuggly. In addition, the Speedcross 4 differs from the 3 in the width slightly, being a bit more on the narrow side.
These shoes are meant to be worn anywhere and have been designed with a water- and debris-resistant mesh. But this is also lightweight and breathable, meaning your feet will stay cool no matter what conditions you run in. The lug design on the Speedcross 4 is upgraded to give better traction than those on the Speedcross 3, so you can hit the trails in confidence.
Cost and Value
The different color and size combinations for this shoe result in a wide range of pricing options. If you’re not too picky about the color set, then you can pick a pair of these shoes up for a bargain! Do note, however, the roomy sizing found in the Speedcross 3 differs in the Speedcross 4 as it has a more narrow fit.
6. Saucony Cohesion 10
External Heel Designed For Stability
Designed With Shock Absorption
Redesigned Uppers To Add Support
One of the Cheapest on Our List
Not The Most Stylish
When you hear “running shoe,” you think Saucony. Saucony produces some of the best running shoes in the world, and the Cohesion 8 is a great example of a quality shoe at an affordable price. Updated from the Cohesion 8 and 9, and designed for neutral runners and under-pronators (see FAQ section for more on pronation), this shoe provides everything your feet need to help prevent shin splints and give you a longer, more enjoyable run.Read more
If your foot isn’t secure and stable in your shoe, then your chances for developing a shin splint while running significantly increase. The Cohesion 8 has an external heel designed to give you ample stability when you run.
Your feet take a pounding when you run, but the Cohesion 8 is designed to absorb the shock and give you a more pleasant run. The responsive cushioning provides extra comfort as well, both important features in any shoe to help prevent shin splints.
Cost and Value
These shoes are among the cheapest on our list. Saucony is renowned for the running shoes it produces, so getting these high-quality runners from them at an entry-level price seems too good to be true! Additionally, the Cohesion 10’s uppers have been redesigned to give added structural support from previous models, keeping you sure-footed in your race pursuits!
7. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
Full-Length, Segmented Crash Pad
Flexible Rubber Outsole
Removable Foam Insole
Breathable Mesh Material
Not Suitable For Narrow Feet
A Little Heavy
Our #8 spot goes to our second entry from Brooks, the Adrenaline GTS 17. These shoes provide great comfort and stability, which will help you improve your natural stride. They're designed to help you have a more controlled run and transition more smoothly between your gait cycles. These shoes look great, fit great, and will help you become a great runner.Read more
The Adrenaline GTS 17s come with a tri-density midsole that will help you control your pronation. If you're an overpronator and are looking for a shoe that will provide more stability when you run, then this shoe is it!
An energizing cushioning system combined with the molded foam insoles and comfortable fabric lining helps the GTS 17s provide the perfect amount of cushion for running--not too much and not too little!
Cost and Value
Considering how much thought and research went into the design of these shoes, we can't believe how affordable they are! They'll help you break your old records without breaking the bank!
8. Mizuno Wave Rider 18
Lightweight, Flexible Mesh
Breathable Mesh Upper
Premium Sock Liner
Small Foot Opening
The Wave Rider 18 by Mizuno combines the best of fit and performance into one shoe. It’s a great daily trainer that is lightweight, flexible, and designed to conform to your foot and give you the best run you can possibly have. Every part of this shoe has been redesigned to help you run without having to worry about experiencing unnecessary pain or discomfort.Read more
The Wave Rider 18s are all about providing a great fit. They’re made to hug your heel and come with a midfoot designed to make the shoe feel like an extension of your own foot. Mizuno comes in a variety of sizing and fits, so you’ll be sure to find one even for wide width feet.
The Wave Rider 18s are also incredibly lightweight. The U4ic midsole is made from materials that will fit and flex without weighing you down, which means you’ll last longer on your next run. The brand is also known for their plush cushioned sole, these are great for new or advance runners who need a little softer impact during their runs.
Cost and Value
The Wave Rider 18 is available for a great, intermediate-level price. Mizuno claims that these are their best running shoes yet, so we think they’re definitely worth investing in. Runners who love Mizuno know they have a unique cushiony feel to them, and the Wave Rider 18 is the next step in comfort for your longer runs.
9. New Balance M940V2
Forefoot Flex Grooves
Approved Diabetic Shoe
Made In USA
Soles May Detach
Not For Rocky Or Uneven Terrain
Our first entry from New Balance is the M940V2 (catchy, isn't it?). This running shoe has a classic look and hits all the marks for helping prevent shin splints. It's specifically designed as a stability running shoe, meaning it will help keep your feet secure when you run, and its flex-groove sole and the unique cushioning system will help your feet last longer.Read more
Not only are these shoes great for different exercises, but they're also great for all different kinds of feet. They are built to accommodate wide feet but will provide a good fit for the average foot as well. And, as a stability shoe, you’ll find additional support which you may be able to use for light cross-training activities.
If you are an overpronator, then you will wear the outside of your shoe when you run. These shoes are designed to correct overpronation and will help you maintain a more natural stride.
Cost and Value
The M940V2 is a great mid-range shoe. It provides all the necessities for helping to prevent injury caused by running and isn't so high-priced that it's out of reach for most consumers.
10. Nike Free 5.0
Dual-Density Foam Insole
Wide Variety Of Color Options
Minimal Pronation Correction
Narrow Toe Box
Our first shoe from Nike takes the #10 spot on our list of the best shoes for preventing
shin splints. The Nike Free 5.0 is a great all-around running shoe and will help you perform no matter how you're training. Its lightweight and comfortable design will keep you from prematurely tiring, and its cushioning midsole acts as a shock absorber to help prevent damage to your feet and legs.
The Nike Free is meant to function in a variety of ways, so whether you're working on your daily runs or pushing a bit harder and engaging in speedwork, this shoe will do what you need it to do.
The Nike Free 5.0 is also made to be comfortable and provide support for your feet. It has a dual-density foam midsole and provides the necessary support to help correct overpronation.
Cost and Value
This all-around shoe is an all-around bargain. It's one of the lowest-priced shoes on our list, and considering how well it performs, we hope you'll want to try it out!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
One of the best ways to guarantee you’ll experience pain and discomfort when you run is to wear a pair of shoes that don’t properly fit. Shoes that are too loose or too tight will not only hurt your feet, but they’ll also increase your risk of hurting other parts of your body like your legs or back. You’re more likely to lose your footing and fall if your shoes are loose as well. And wearing shoes that don’t fit properly will keep you from getting the full potential out of your shoes.
Running shoes are designed to function best when they’re properly fitted, so you’re wasting your money buying an expensive pair of shoes that are the wrong size.
But beyond getting the right size, you’ll also want a shoe that snugly fits your foot. The better a shoe “hugs” your foot, the better your run will be and the more your shoe will function as an extension of, rather than an addition to, your foot. Several of the shoes in our list is constructed with memory foam inners and insoles that help your shoes conform to your feet, so you may want to start there when you’re looking for a shoe that fits well. Having a custom and comfortable fit in your shoe when you run is crucial to maximizing your efforts and minimizing your risk of injuring yourself.
Another important element to look for when you’re trying to prevent shin splints is sufficient cushion. We say “sufficient” because you don’t want a shoe that provides too little or too much cushion: you want one that provides just enough to keep your foot comfortable without compromising its stability. If your shoe does not provide enough cushioning, then your feet will absorb all the impact of your run; if your shoe has too much cushion, then your feet will lose the snug fit you want and you can become unstable.
Obviously, there is a balance that has to be struck here and finding it may take some trial-and-error, but it’s essential that your feet have proper cushion both to keep them comfortable and to help absorb the shock they experience while running. Make sure the shoes you choose are designed to take the stress away from your feet. Many of the shoes on our list come with shock-absorbing outsoles and insoles and will help cushion your feet from the repeated impact of running on hard surfaces. Look for gel cushioning and quality rubber outsoles to ensure your shoes are helping your feet last as long as possible on your run.
While most running shoes are designed for neutral runners, several of the shoes on our list are designed to correct specific types of pronation, either under- or overpronation. Pronation (defined below) will play a significant role in the comfort and quality of your run; if your feet are not hitting the ground the right way, then you are at a higher risk of developing running-induced injuries like shin splints. Some shoe companies will test your feet to determine your pronation type and then recommend a shoe based on the results. This may seem like an extreme measure to take to try to avoid shin pain, but in the long run, you’ll be thankful you know what kind of shoe to shop for. You can also look at the wear on your shoe to see if the role of your foot is out of kilter. If you’re wearing either side of the sole instead of the center of the sole, then chances are you suffer from either under- or overpronation. Many of the shoes in our list are designed for specific pronation types, so check the descriptions above or follow the links to the product pages and look for one that will correct your running pattern. The way our foot rolls is something many of us don’t think about when we run, but correcting improper pronation could mean the difference between success and failure for frequent runners.
Finally, in order to give your feet and legs the best chance of success during a run, look for a shoe made from lightweight materials. Running is difficult enough without adding a heavy, clunky shoe into the mix, and the heavier your shoe is, the more quickly you will tire during your run. Going too light, however, with something like a barefoot shoe, may mean you lose some of the needed cushion discussed above.
Many running shoes are designed to put as little material as possible between your foot and the ground, but if you’re suffering from shin splints, going too lightweight or too thin may exacerbate the pain you’re experiencing when you run. Again, there is a balance to strike here, but most running shoes are designed to be lightweight and to provide proper cushion and shock absorption, so you will have a wide variety of shoes from which to choose. Several of the shoes in our list claim that their shoes are so lightweight that you’ll forget you’re wearing them, and as long as the shoe also has an ample sole, this is a great quality to look for.
Synthetic materials, such as nylon, are going to give you the greatest strength with the lowest added weight; natural materials, although sometimes more durable, tend to be heavier. Thankfully, most of the shoes in our list are made of entirely synthetic (even vegan!) materials, so you know they’ll be lightweight and durable. It might seem like heavier shoes will be a benefit when you run, helping you build up your endurance and muscle strength, but if the weight of your shoes is causing you pain, then switching to a lighter-weight shoe may help ease that pain and end up being much more beneficial in the long run.
It's important to look at the value of a pair of shoes before you purchase them. Whatever the price: low or high, might be right for your situation if there is value in the product.
We've looked at each product on our list and rated its value based on how long the shoe will last, how well it will stand up to the pressure you put them under. We would never want to include a pair of shoes that are outrageously expensive and will only last a few wears.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When training to run longer distances, you can get shin splints from ramping up long run mileage, or overall weekly mileage too quickly.
Rule of thumb to help avoid shin splints when going long? Increase your long run by 10% each week. So, if you're running a 10 mile long distance run one week, the following week, make it 11 miles. Try not to increase your overall weekly mileage by more than a total of 15%.
Sometimes, just the way your gait is when running can increase chances of shin splints. Many folks tend to strike midfoot when running, or sometimes even on their toes. Heel striking when running can sometimes cause issues if the cushion in your sneakers doesn't negate the impact sufficiently.
If you're worried about your gait, you can always have a gait analysis done! Check with your local running shop for details where you can have one performed for a personalized gait analysis.
Frequently Asked Questions
“Shin splint” is the term used to describe pain along the front of your shin bone that results from engaging in strenuous physical activity. As the name implies, this pain is concentrated in the lower leg/shin area between your knee and ankle. The medical name for a shin splint is medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS. Repeated stress in your lower leg area causes your leg muscles to swell, which can result in excess pressure against your shin bone. This pressure can lead to inflammation and pain in your leg. Shin splints can also occur when bone fractures in your leg are not given time to heal. Repeated stress on the bone can cause small fractures to become a complete fracture, so, if you’re experiencing shin splints, make sure you are giving your legs plenty of rest. The shin splints will only get worse if you continue to run and don’t allow them to heal.
Pronation is the way your foot rolls inward as you run. As a runner, you will fall into one of three categories of pronation: under-pronator, neutral pronator, or overpronator. You can determine your pronation type by taking a pronation test, or by simply noting the wear of your running shoe. If you are an under-pronator, then your shoe will wear the most on the outside of the sole. An overpronator will wear the inside of the sole. And a neutral runner will wear their shoes in an S-pattern from front to back. Because pronation determines how your foot distributes impact when you’re running, and because shin splints occur and worsen from impact, it’s important to have an appropriate shoe type to help prevent shin splints. Knowing your pronation type will allow you to select the running shoe that will best support your feet when you run.
The likelihood of you getting a shin splint from running decreases as the stability of your foot while running increases. So, make sure your shoes fit your feet properly. The right shoe for you will be determined by your pronation type, so make sure you know what type you fall under (see above). You may also want to invest in some shock-absorbing insoles to help bear some of the impacts your feet will experience when you run. Make gradual adjustments to your exercising instead of trying to push yourself as hard as possible from the outset. Avoid running on rough terrain when you can, and make sure you warm up before you run and stretch after you run. And most importantly, don’t try to muscle through the pain! You’ll end up doing more harm to your legs and you’ll run the risk of having long-term complications.
If you do happen to get shin splints the next time you run, the first thing you need to do is give your body time to rest and heal. This means you’ll need to cut out moderate and heavy physical activity and limit yourself to activities like swimming or walking. (Obviously, exercises that don’t require you to pound pavement are fine during your recovery). To help ease the pain of shins splints, there are a few home remedies you can try. Elevate your feet and put ice packs on your legs to help reduce the swelling and inflammation. You can also take anti-inflammatories to help with this. Compression socks or bandages may also be helpful in reducing swelling and alleviating pain. Finally, you can massage your shin and calf muscles, either by hand or with a foam roller. None of these remedies will help with more serious issues like bone fractures, but they should help alleviate muscle pain and get you on the road to recovery. In rare instances, surgery may be required to treat shin splints. This procedure is known as a fasciotomy, and if your shin splints last for more than a few months, your doctor may recommend this treatment to help relieve the pain.
Here are a few brands that offer quality compression socks. These socks will help relieve swelling if you develop shin splints, and they can be worn while you run to help prevent them as well:
If you don’t take measures to prevent shin splints and don’t allow your body time to heal and recover from them, then you run the risk of a minor injury developing into a more serious issue. If you don’t treat your shin splints and continue training (or worse, overtraining), then you can cause a fracture in your tibia (shin bone). Most tibial fractures will require at least a 6-week recovery period. A more serious complication from shin splints is called muscle compartment syndrome, where your muscles become engorged and cause damage to the areas surrounding them. Developing muscle compartment syndrome will likely result in needing surgery to help prevent lasting damage to your leg muscles.
Low-impact exercises are the way to go if you continue experiencing shin splints and are unable to prevent them through the methods we’ve listed. Cycling, swimming, walking, and using an elliptical are all great ways to get in your cardio without developing shin splints and damaging your body. Remember, the goal is overall health: it’s worth it to sacrifice burning a few calories in order to save your legs!