10 Best Running Shoes for Shin Splints Tested
Running is a high-impact sport, and this is why the shoes you choose can make such a huge difference in whether you get shin splints or not. Read on to learn more about shin splints and find the right shoe for you.
- Hoka One One Clifton 3
- Asics Gel Nimbus 18
- Asics Gel Kayano 21
- On Cloud
- Mizuno Wave Inspire 13
- Brooks Glycerin 14
- Saucony Zealot ISO 2
- Brooks Ghost 8
- Nike Air Zoom Vomero 11
- Merrell Vapor Glove 2
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Hoka One One Clifton 3
Breathable, soft upper
Some buyers reported issues with quality
Some users found the toe box too small in size
Sizes run small
This third version of the Clifton model really hits the sweet spot, ideally balancing cushioning and weight. This lightweight favorite is ideal for runners with shin splints because it provides the essential cushioning and stability to prevent injury without slowing you down, and that's why it's #1 on our list.Read more
Weighing only 7.4 oz. in the women’s version (add about another ounce for the men’s shoe) this lightweight shoe is easy to wear for miles and miles. Hoka redesigned the upper for greater durability over the previous version. Though this new seamless mesh upper does not have the smooth look of its predecessor, it sits very comfortably on the top of the foot. Using the Hoka rocker technology that tapers up from toe to heel, the Clifton 3 gently encourages forward movement while maintaining a comfortable, stable foot strike.
The Clifton’s foundation is a sole packed with a generous layer of CMEVA foam and a feather-soft interior. The seamless, breathable mesh upper is impressively flexible and an enlarged toe box add to the attractive features of this shoe.
This is an average priced elite shoe, and reviewers loved it so it represents a tremendous value for those of you looking for protection and stability in the fight against shin splints.
2. Asics Gel Nimbus 18
Cushioned heel and forefoot
Heel stability features
Some athletes find the toe box too small
The shoes have been found to run small by some buyers
At just two ounces heavier than our number one pick is the Asics Gel Nimbus 18. The Gel Nimbus line has developed a loyal following over the years and for good reason; it's a great shoe! Asics has recently released the 19th version of this shoe, but there is not yet sufficient user experience with it for us to recommend it in this category.Read more
For 18 years the Gel Nimbus has been consistently popular. This model is a good match for our category because of its relatively light weight, excellent cushioning and Heel Clutching System Technology which contributes to overall stability by adding super stability to the heel which also promotes improved heel fit.
Appropriately named for a cloud, these shoes provide a soft and sweet ride. Both the rear and forefoot are GEL infused for impact attenuation and the seamless construction ensures to the best of its ability that your feet won’t blister. The FluidFit upper adapts to your foot for a customized fit and the FluidRide midsole balances bounce-back and cushioning.
These are very good shoes at a good price and you may get a bargain now that the 19 is out and retailers are trying to unload the old models.
3. Asics Gel Kayano 21
Forefoot and heel GEL infusion
Heel clutching system
Available with interesting features
Some feel the shoes run narrow
Some find the toe box too tight
Weighing about the same as the Nimbus, these Asics Gel Kayano 21 are just as appropriate for runners with shin splints as the Nimbus, but the different characteristics of the shoes ensure them a separate place on our list.Read more
For the Gel Kayano 21's, ASICS' designers decided to use gender-specific cushioning ensuring a custom, smooth run for both genders. ASICS' FluidRide cushioning and rear and forefoot GEL cushioning add to the attractions of this long-time favorite. Moisture-wicking and breathable with an impact-absorbing, durable rubber sole, these Kayanos support your feet without pressure and cushion without sacrificing road sensitivity.
Kayanos provide comfort from heel cushioning and GEL infusion through the gender-specific foam placement to the puffy tongue and forgiving sole.
These moderately-priced shoes are a good value and come in models with special features such as the Lite-show that features glow-in-the-dark sole elements.
4. On Cloud
Multiple cushioning elements
Clouds provide cushioning and stability
Light light light
Some buyers reported durability issues
Some users did not like the tongue
Both On Running and Hoka One One have well-earned reputations for comfort and cushioning. Much depends on your individual running style, gait and running environment. Because of the emphasis on cushioning, the On Cloud has earned a prestigious position on our list. In addition to being very light and comfortable, reviewers raved about the easy to use and highly effective lacing system.Read more
On’s Cloud is their basic running shoe. Of course, On applies similar technology to variations on the Cloud for trail running and other specific conditions. The technology packed into these 7-ounce beauties earn them this slot on our list. The design, which is well-documented in videos on the company website, has open “clouds” on the soles that compress to cushion your contact with the ground and remain compressed for a strong push-off into the next step. This balance of cushioning and stability is well-supported by test runners and makes On’s Clouds a great choice for people with shin splints.
In addition to the Clouds that line the sole and move independently to provide cushioning precisely where you need it, this lightweight shoe has slip-on laces and a padded tongue that add to its comfort.
These compare favorably with the other shoes in our ranking.
5. Mizuno Wave Inspire 13
Wave pattern on soles reduce and deflect impact
Shock attenuation midsole
A few cases of foot abrasion have been reported
Reports of quality issues
Though 9 ounces seems heavy in comparison with some of the other shoes on our list, the Mizuno Wave Inspire is still a very lightweight running shoe. Featuring good cushioning and stability, reviewers loved the special heel cushioning system and support system.Read more
The U4ic midsole provides excellent shock attenuation while the firm sole holds the foot to protect against slipping and pronation. The Waves reduce and redirect the force of each impact away from your foot for superior strike cushioning and sole responsiveness.
The Wave Inspire’s comfort starts at the ankle and extends through the midsole to the toe box, with a shock attenuating and upper made of breathable yet supportive mesh.
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 is a little more expensive than most of the other shoes on our list, but still in the standard range for elite shoes like these.
6. Brooks Glycerin 14
Well-cushioned ankle collar
Impact dispersing sole panels
Some buyers report durability issues
Runs narrow on some wearers
The Glycerin 14, produced by the grand master of running shoes, Brooks, is ready to provide cushioning where you most need it, along with an upper that stabilizes with comfort.Read more
The colors of the Brooks Glycerin 14 sole indicate the different pressure zones and how the sole is designed to disperse impact in each zone through specific impact panels.
The saddle holds the foot without excessive pressure and the sole impact panels do double duty by providing targeted cushioning and a smooth transition from heel to toe. The ankle collar is spongy and responsive and the interior is silky.
Considerably more expensive than most other shoes on this list: however, they provide serious runners with durable, comfortable wear.
7. Saucony Zealot ISO 2
PWRGRID+ midsole cushioning
Flexfilm shape-conforming upper
Tri-Flex sole – flexible and promotes stability
Shoes run narrow on some people
The shoes run small
Saucony’s Zealot ISO 2 provides comfort through a combination of cushioning and fit. The innovative ISOFIT construction allows the Zealot to have a custom-like fit, and hugs your foot for comfort and responsiveness.Read more
At about 9.5 ounces, the Zealot ISO 2 offers a 20% increase in cushioning through a Saucony midsole technology called PWRGRID+. The TRI-Flex sole composition improves force dispersion by widening the dispersion area while delivering excellent traction.
The PWRGRID+ midsole working with the Flexfilm upper enables the shoe to conform to the shape of your foot for a comfortable, cushioned run.
The Zealot is towards the higher end of prices on our list, but reviewers felt they were worth the money in most instances.
8. Brooks Ghost 8
Fits most gaits and strike patterns
Soft interior, heel collar, tongue and mesh upper
Not very durable, the shoes have premature wear issues
Some buyers have reported that the shoes run wide
The Brooks Ghost is the elite cushioned shoe of the Brooks stable of running shoes. Reviewers loved how comfortable they were, especially larger runners. Well balanced cushioning, stability, and durability earn the Ghost a position on our list.Read more
The nexus of the Ghost is Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA midsole designed to respond to each stride you take. This is formed into a waffle pattern to hold the road in wet and dry conditions. With every variation in foot strike, runners found the cushioning to be well-placed. Though amply cushioned, the forefoot stiffens to provide a strong push into the next stride. This seems like magic, but much of shoe technology does these days. The mesh upper provides comfort and stability with a firm heel cup and wide toe box.
Brooks aimed for the average foot with the Ghost 8 design, so most runners will find the shape comfortable with adequate room for their heel and toes. The cushioning meets each runners’ needs without seeming too squishy and the mesh upper is soft as is the interior lining.
These fall in the average price range for elite shoes and you can probably find them at a bargain price as Brooks has just released the next shoe in this line.
9. Nike Air Zoom Vomero 11
Lunarlon foam in forefoot and toe
Air Zoom throughout sole
Cool and breathable
Flywire stability system
Some users feel the Zoom Vomero 11 runs narrow
Some athletes have reported premature wear issues
The Nike Air Zoom Vomero 11 has, perhaps, a more conventional appearance than the other shoes on our list because of the conservative look of the sole. However, Nike Air shoes have been delivering comfort for almost 30 years and they don’t disappoint in the Zoom Vomero 11.Read more
These provide a stable midsole and good responsiveness while the Flywire technology secures the foot to prevent slippage in any direction for a secure, reliable strike. With a snug, stable fit, this shoe is comfortable without even considering cushioning. However, cushioning provided by air units and foam throughout the sole provide a smooth, uniform, soft foot platform.
Air Zoom Vomeros provide comfort through different applications of technology. Soft Lunarlon foam cushions the forefoot and a firmer foam cushions the heel and the entire shoe platform includes Zoom Air units for a sublayer of cushioning. Add the Flywire system for stability a mesh upper for air circulation, and you have a comfortable shoe.
These fall into the average price range in our list.
10. Merrell Vapor Glove 2
Heel and Toe impact protection
Maintains barefoot experience
Promotes forefoot strike
A few runners reported premature wear
A few cases of size issues have been reported
As investigation into running issues continues, analysts increase their knowledge of remedies, including those for shin splints. There is evidence that some runners benefit from revising their running mechanics from heel strike to forefoot strike. The Merrell Vapor Glove 2 is an example of a shoe that encourages forefoot strike as do many barefoot style shoes.Read more
Designed to enable the feeling of barefoot running while providing some protection, the Merrell Vapor Glove 2 is extremely light (about 5 ounces) and is composed of washable mesh which provides ample air circulation for cooling and moisture wicking. As you run, the shoe hugs your foot, again imitating your natural barefoot running motion. With a zero drop design, Vibram sole, and integrated toe protection, the Vapor Glove is a minimalist shoe with a plus.
For runners trying to overcome shin splints, these promote forefoot strike which many runners find supports recovery.
In comparison with some shoes, these are not expensive, but some may consider them pricey because of the minimalist design compared to the price.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Check for the proper amount of stability. Make sure that the shoe will keep your feet in the right position to avoid any minor or major injuries. Also, select shoes based on your feet type. If you have flat feet, choose a pair which has support for flat feet. If your toes splay wide, you may want to look for a pair with a larger toe box.
For long distance running, it is necessary to be comfortable in your shoes. You should check the cushioning system of the shoe to make sure that it is comfortable and will support your weight and running style. Comfortability is also achieved by making sure you have the right size and fit running shoes. If you have high arches or splayed toes, be sure to look for shoes that accomodate your needs to make sure you're comfortable.
Since shin splints come from repeated use and shocks to your shins, having a running shoe with good shock absorbtion will definitely help you avoid this condition.
A shoe's shock absorbing capabilities typically come from the sole. Generally speaking, the thicker the sole, the more shock absorbtion that a shoe has, but this isn't always the case. By investing in research and inventing new technologies such as air pockets and different cushioning structures in the soles shoe companies have been able to increase shock absorbtion while decreasing the thickness of the sole. This is great because not all runners like their shoe's stack height to be too high. When looking for the right shoe for you be sure to take your running style and how heavy you are into consideration and you'll find a pair with just the right amount of shock absorbtion for you.
Every dedicated runner understands that their shoes take a beating. When you’re covering several miles a day, your shoes need to be able to stand up to all types of conditions for long periods of time. This means that they need to be made of durable material that’s also light and breathable. If the shoe is too tight, it can actually lead to fungal infections or further injury to the foot itself. It needs to be snug, prevent slippage, and offer you the right type of sole for the terrain that you choose. The last thing anyone wants is to spend 100 or more dollars on a shoe that falls apart in a month.
How supportive your running shoes are goes a long way towards avoiding shin splints and other injuries and makes a big impact on how you run as well. You want shoes that support your foot and ankle well, especially if you're a trail runner, but that aren't restrictive. When choosing a shoe be sure to look at the support structure it offers while also taking your running style into consideration. People who enjoy minimalist, barefoot style running shoes will want something less supportive, but it may still be a good idea to have a back up pair with more cushioning and support than you're used to for when you start to feel shin splints coming on. Likewise, heavier runners will want to make sure they buy a pair of shoes with lots of support to help protect their feet and ankles from the added strain the additional weight causes on your bones and joints.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If these shoes still don't help you eliminate shin splints completely, or if you want to continue running in your favorite shoes, then there's another option that can help you. Orthotic inserts can be purchased at nearly every footwear or sporting goods store that are specifically designed to prevent shin splints.
If your cases of shin splints are persistent and overwhelmingly painful no matter what shoes or inserts you wear, you may want to consider trying other forms of cardiovascular exercise. Some common alternatives to running that are easier on the shins include cycling, swimming, and using an elliptical trainer or rowing machine.
Other Factors to Consider
Good running shoes can protect your shins, knees, and even lower back from unnecessary injuries. They can correct your form and remove some of the stress on your shins. This can also help you to recover from shin splints without having to completely give up your workout. You may have to dial things back, but a good running shoe can protect you enough to get you through. We’ve looked at a huge number of factors and reviewed some of the best running shoes on the market for runners with sensitive shins.
Many runners need to address minor or major issues with shin splints during their running careers. Luckily most of the time, shin splints are not an issue that necessarily ends your running career. One known contributor to shin splints is poor shoes, either in quality or because of deterioration. This does not mean purchasing one of the pairs of shoes on our list will cure your shin splints overnight, but running in high-quality, cushioned, stabilizing shoes will certainly stack the deck in your favor and minimize at least one damaging element in your running regime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Shin splints are a deep muscular pain that occurs inside and outside of the shin. This pain can ultimately cause significant injuries to the foot and cause health issues like stress fractures. Luckily for most, shin splints can be avoided with the right training and the right shoes. If you tend to suffer from the problem of having high arches or throbbing pain in the shins, its good to think about getting the best shoes for shin splints.
Below are some of the most prevalent causes of a runner having shin splints:
-Over pronation: Pronation simply means the rolling inwards of ones foot when walking or running. Neutral runners may experience pronation but to a very low degree, unlike overpronators who have to deal with excessive rolling of the feet which means more pressure exerted on the knee joint. Runners dealing with over pronation should look for shoes that will offer them both motion control and added stability. The more pronation you experience the more stability you will need to get from your running sneakers. The material used in making the arch point of any given running shoe, is the one that offers and determines the amount of stability of a given shoe
-Running on hard or sloppy surfaces
-Wearing running sneakers that are worn out and or not fitting hence inadequate support and cushioning
-Having feet that are flat
-Having tight calf muscles
-Having weak ankles or achilles tendons that are tight
-Being overweight, which means additional pressure on your joints
-Resuming running after a long period of no running
Pronation is very common among athletes, and is generally experienced by everyone to some degree. Its the natural inward rolling of ones feet or foot as we walk or run. People who are considered to be neutral runners have low levels of pronation but then there are runners who experience pronation at very high levels. These type of runners suffer from what we call over pronation. Those who experience very little pronation suffer from supination.
Runners with excessive pronation are advised to get running shoes that offer them extra stability combined with natural movement. Stability of the shoes is determined by the amount of pronation that a runner experiences during their running sessions or when walking around.
Below are some of the ways of preventing and treating shin splints.
-Buy new running shoes: Most of the time a new pair of sneakers that can offer additional cushioning and support to your feet, especially the lower part of your legs, will bring relief to the feet, hence prevent further pain caused by shin splints.
-Compression Socks: These cause more blood flow in your muscles, especially the muscles around your legs. This means there will be a reduced of an you having pain, discomfort, or inflammation.
-Foam Rollers: These are a must have piece of gear for every athlete. Runners who tend to experience pain caused by shin splints should use foam rollers to get rid of the inflammation that tends to affect the lower legs on regular basis.
-Compression Wraps for Shin Splints: compression wraps are designed to get rid of discomfort and inflammation that is brought about by shin splints. Try these compression wraps on your next run.
-Taping: Taping is another option when you are looking for a good way to relieve the pain caused by shin splints. The taping techniques help the body muscles to relax and reduce pressure which reduces inflammation and pain.
It's crucial that you understand and know the different varieties of shin splint exercises. Even though it's unfortunate that most doctors and therapists will recommend not running when you have shin splints, there are some exercises workouts you can do to hasten the recovery and repair process of your leg muscles.
-Stretching the leg muscles: Stretch the achilles tendon, the front shins, and the calves as much as you can to reduce the inflammation and pain caused by shin splint. Each shin splint stretch could either make or break the recovery, so diligence must be maintained while doing the stretches.
-Trace the alphabet using the big toes in your feet. The alphabet should be on the floor. This should be done for each leg as it will help in stretching and strengthening the front shin and calf muscles.
-Alternate walking with heels on the ground and toes off, and regular walking ( each for maximum of 30 seconds) This should be done for each leg as it will help in stretching and strengthening the front shin and calf muscles. It also helps in avoiding shin splint pain and inflammation. You should make sure you do the 3 above exercises at least three times daily.
If the shin splint worsens or doesn't get better regardless of doing the above workout sessions, you can then go for cross training. This can involve activities like weight training, cycling, or even swimming. These should be done until you have recovered enough to resume running. Once you resume running, make sure that you increase the rate of your mileage steadily but not more 10% of the distance covered in running daily.
Watch out for these symptoms so that you can determine whether you have shin splints or not:
-Pain & tenderness experienced in the lower part of your leg
-Experiencing discomfort and pain each time you flex your toes, especially upwards
-Leg pain, especially around the ankles and knees, after running a few kilometers
-But it’s also important to note that not every pain you will experience in your legs (especially the lower section of the leg) is necessarily brought on by shin splints. To diagnose a shin splint condition, it's best you visit a specialist so that they can determine what the condition is. However, before going to the doctor you can consider using compression socks when you go for a run.
The socks might help in blood circulation, around that specific affected compartment hence blood flows better, which in turn will relieve the pressure and reduce the amount of discomfort experienced. If you train regularly or run often , and you are always experiencing leg pain in the lower part around/ above the ankles but just below the knees, this could be due to a stress fracture (the micro fracture can either be tibia). An X ray done by a professional can be the best way to diagnose this condition.
There are two methods of treating shin splints: surgical and non-surgical. The non-surgical ways are:
-Special tape and taping techniques
-Wearing compression socks
-Physical therapy sessions
-Deep tissue massage
-Posture correction therapy and proper alignment techniques