Best Shoes for Shin Splints Reviewed & Rated
Summer is in full swing, and the weather is perfect for outdoor activities and fitness enthusiasts. With warm sunny weather making mornings perfect to get up and get going, you may be well into your new year’s resolution of eating healthy and exercising regularly! One of the easiest exercises to get back into fitness is running. You simply throw on a pair of shoes, shorts, and a tank and hit the road; no gym membership required! Running burns calories, improves your cardiovascular fitness, and can strengthen muscles in your legs and your core. Whether you’re on a treadmill or hitting the pavement, running is the cardio exercise of choice for most of us who want to stay active and in shape.
- Saucony Cohesion 10
- Excellent Shock Absorption
- Salomon Speedcross 4
- Trail Runner
- Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
- Cushioned Stability
But as beneficial as running can be for our physical and even mental health (nothing helps you clear your head like an afternoon jog!), 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 the top 10 running shoes that we believe will help keep you from being plagued by them the next time you run. Look through our list, follow the links, and then check out our “Criteria” section to see why we chose the shoes we did. We’ve also included a FAQ section at the very bottom that we hope will answer your questions about the causes and prevention of shin splints.
Best Shoes for Shin Splints
1. Saucony Cohesion 10
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!
2. Salomon Speedcross 4
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.
- Sensifit system = precise fit
- Lightweight construction
- Quick-drying mesh uppers
- Quicklace closure system
- Limited size options
- May run big
4. Brooks Ghost 9
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.
- Shock-absorbing sole
- Breathable mesh upper
- Lightweight synthetic construction
- Removable foam insole
- Durability issues
3. Mizuno Wave Rider 18
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 come 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.
- Lightweight design
- Breathable mesh upper
- Flexible forefoot
- Premium sock liner
- Vegan-friendly materials
- Narrow fit
- Small foot opening
5. Asics GEL-Quantum 360
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.
- GEL cushioning system
- Full-length trusstic system
- Heel-clutching design
- Breathable and comfortable
- A little heavy
- Wide toe box
6. Saucony Triumph ISO
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!
- Molds to your foot shape
- Very lightweight
- Wicks away moisture
- Grid Technology
- Sizing runs smaller
- Bit more expensive
7. New Balance M940V2
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.
- Forefoot flex grooves
- Low-to-ground cushioning
- Antimicrobial footbed
- Approved diabetic shoe
- Made in USA
- Soles may detach
- Not for rocky or uneven terrain
8. HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 4
The Active Footframe of Hoka One One’s Clifton 4 is unlike other running shoes where your foot sits atop the footbed and midsole. Here, the foot is cradled from heel to toe length of the shoe, dropping it snugly into the midsole, and promotes a cradled support to guide your foot into the correct positioning for proper running gait. And, the Clifton 4 has a wider toe box, which gives room for toe splay, and natural swelling of the foot that happens during longer runs.
The Clifton 4 has superior cushioning in the sole and midsole of the shoe. Plush thick soles provide a smooth ride for beginner to advanced runners, and help to keep shin splints at bay by lessening impact. The minimalist differential from heel to toe helps strengthen the Achilles for newer runners, and with the synthetic, lightweight mesh uppers, this shoe will keep you going the extra mile in cool comfort.
Cost and Value
The Hoka One One Clifton 4 comes in a variety of sizing and color options, so pricing can vary depending on which you select. However, it’s till quite comparable in price to many of our running shoes known for quality or specialty construction, and is a great investment for any runner. If you’re newer to what a rocker running shoe may feel like, give these a test spin!
- Rocker Sole
- Heel Cup
- Sizing May Vary
9. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
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!
- Full-length, segmented crash pad
- Flexible rubber outsole
- Removable foam insole
- Breathable mesh material
- Not suitable for narrow feet
- A little heavy
10. Nike Free 5.0
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!
- Dual-density foam insole
- Self-tie closure
- Sleek design
- Wide variety of color options
- Removable insoles
- Minimal pronation correction
- Narrow toe box
As we said at the beginning, no shoe will guarantee that you won’t experience shin splints when you run. There are several factors that can lead to the development of shin splints (see the “FAQ” section below), but wearing the wrong type of shoes is a surefire way to sabotage your run and kill your motivation for wanting to do it again. After all, we run because we want to be healthy and feel better, and shin splints will not only make our run less enjoyable and profitable, but they’ll also linger around after you run and make you reconsider getting out there again.
We want to give ourselves every advantage we can when we’re trying to improve ourselves and better our health, so consider trying one of the pairs of shoes in our list and see if they help get you through your next run more easily. They may not make you run faster, but hopefully they’ll help you run farther by lowering your risk of experiencing the pain of shin splints, and if you can avoid that pain, then you’ll stand a much better chance of staying motivated, sticking to your resolutions, and getting out there next time.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Shoes for Shin Splints
Before getting into details of how we evaluated our top ten list, it’s key to understand other factors that can contribute to shin splints other than your footwear. The right shoes can help prevent shin splints simply by guiding your foot to a neutral or more natural running gait, but, if no matter your status or history of running, your training regimen can have a lot to do with whether or not you are at risk to develop shin splints, from beginners to veteran runners alike.
One key factor in training to note is the aggressiveness in your plan, and increases in mileage to reach per week. Newer runners may feel the need to increase mileage quickly, but the body is not yet adapted to impact and feel of running, which can contribute to shin splints. The body needs time to build core and glute strength in order to help facilitate proper running technique, and stabilize the body, especially if you’re starting out with extra weight that may have been gained. Rule of thumb for newer runners in this scenario is to gradually build and strengthen leg muscles and tissues. Start with building up to a 30 minute walk first, then add in some jogging. This jogging time can slowly be increased each week by 2-3 minutes until you are jogging a full 30 minutes instead of walking.
For veteran runners, the same sort of training applies in terms of mileage increases that may be too aggressive over a short period of time. If you’re trying to run a marathon, but have only 12 weeks to get build to that last distance training run, you’re base long slow distance run should start around 10 miles! Most of us don’t maintain that level of distance run offseason. Be sure to give yourself enough time to ramp up mileage, with a rule of thumb of no more than 10% each week for your long slow distance runs, or total mileage in general. The last thing you want to do is get shin splints 4 weeks out from your event!
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 to 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 are 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 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 roll 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 an 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are shin splints and what causes them?
A. “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.
Q. What is pronation and how does it relate to shin splints?
A. Pronation is the way your foot rolls inward as you run. As a runner, you will fall into one of three categories of pronation: underpronator, 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 underpronator, 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.
Q. What can I do to help prevent shin splints (besides buying an awesome pair of shoes from your list)?
A. 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 tough 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.
Q. What can I do to ease the pain of shin splints if I develop them?
A. 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:
- Danish Endurance
- Dr. Motion
- Sooverki Copper
Q. Are there any long-term effects of frequent shin splints?
A. 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.
Q. If I keep experiencing shin splints from running, what exercises do you recommend to take its place?
A. 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!
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