Best Running Shoes for Shin Splints – 2021 Buyers Guide
Sports medicine shows that approximately 15% of running injuries are due shin splints. Thankfully, you can avoid tibialis anterior pain most effectively by choosing the right footwear for your body and running style.
We've done the research so you can choose from the best running shoes for shin splints and hopefully avoid the painful effects altogether.
Cut to the chase - here's our top pick for the best running shoe for shin splints.
Open engineered mesh upper
EVA foam midsole
Meta-rocker sole design
Top 9 Running Shoes for Shin Splints
1. Hoka One One Clifton 7
Open engineered mesh upper
EVA foam midsole
Meta-rocker sole design
The Clifton 7 is our all-around top choice in this category. It's a friend of shins everywhere thanks to it’s incredible cushioning across all stages of your gait. The Clifton 7 is a lightweight, max-cushioned, everyday trainer with full-compression EVA midsole, early stage Meta-Rocker, and an engineered mesh upper, making it a prime choice for if you're prone to shin splints.Read more
Weighing in at 8.7 oz., the Hoka One One Clifton 7 is the perfect balance of lightweight and cushioning. It boasts a full-length EVA midsole to help cushion and absorb the impact of each and every step and includes a removable foam-padded insole for additional support. The outsole provides excellent traction and adds a little bounce to your stride.
The upper mesh is lightweight and breathable, featuring a high heel collar designed to prevent rubbing and chafing when running long distances. The engineered mesh adds breathability, making this shoe consistently cool and dry as you train.
The Clifton 7 remains at the top of our list as one of the best all-around long-distance running shoes, and is an especially good fit for runners prone to shin splints. While its cost might cause a little heartburn, you won't regret buying them once you've experienced their comfort and support.
2. Mizuno Wave Inspire 17
Supportive U4ic midsole
Transition from heel to toe isn't as smooth as other shoes listed
Clocking in with our final spot, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 shoes offer a budget-friendly choice for neutral road runners . While at first glance it may look like a minimalistic trainer, it is packed with Mizuno's cushioning technology to help comfort your shins and joints at every stage of your gait.Read more
The most important feature of the Wave Inspire 16 is found in the midsole. U4ic midsole technology works to absorb the impact of each and every step without adding heft or unnecessary weight. It is built as a stability trainer with the look and feel of a minimalistic trainer. We found that the X10 outsole adds an extra pop in your step as you get used to these shoes' feel.
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 shoes offer two different options for the uppers -- both with their own feel and benefits. The engineered mesh upper feels ultralight and is exceptionally breathable (my personal preference of the two). On the other hand, the knit upper doesn't breathe as well but it offers a more secure fit.
We this the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 is a great choice for runners dealing with shin splints. With multiple upper options, you can enjoy the shoe's cushioned sole technology while choosing between added stability or lightness and breathability.
3. Brooks Ghost 13
Engineered mesh upper
DNA loft extended across entire sole
Good price point
Classic Brooks durability
Feels a bit heavier
Brooks is at it again with its latest offering from the Ghost series of shoes. We like the Brooks Ghost 13 for its immediate step-in comfort and high level of stability throughout the shoe. It may not be the best looking shoe on our list, but hey, Brooks isn't knows for its style. Another great option for avoiding or post shin splints, the Ghost 13 is an easy choice.Read more
This is one of those shoe lines that we hope will never change. Brooks maintains their tried and true all-around excellent design with the Ghost line which will please both casual and professional runners.
The sole is equipped with DNA Loft to provide excellent cushioning with every step, however, the 12mm heel drop can be a bit much for runners with a forefoot strike. Some of our runners thought the shoes felt a little on the heavier side, however, they maintained a really nice and soft feel even through longer runs.
The engineered mesh upper is an improvement over the Ghost 13. We love how it feels accommodating to different feet, yet not sloppy in the midfoot or toe box.
The Brooks Ghost 13 is a fantastic out-of-the-box shoe for road runners who need to take extra care of their shins. Especially if you're a heel striking runner, these shoes will be great for you to avoid shin splints.
4. Hoka One One Arahi 5
J-Frame stability system
Thick, comfortable soles
Boring color options
Exceptionally long laces
Known for their max-cushioned soles, it's no surprise that Hoke One One takes another place on this list. Of course, those giant, marshmallow-like soles provide great cushioning, but Stability is the name of the Arahi 5's game. If you deal with shin splints and are also a pronator, the Hoka One One Arahi 5 is worth your investment.Read more
The folks at Hoka One One claim that they've designed the Arahi 5 with a 'laser-focused fit.' We found the upper to be slim, but not tight, providing an excellent and comfortable fit. Over longer runs, our feet stayed secure in all the right places with no blisters or rubs to show for it.
The Arahi 5 features the Meta-rocker system much like the Clifton 7. This will serve both forefoot-strikers and heel-strikers alike, providing a noticeable boost when kicking up longer, faster strides, and creating a very smooth heel-to-toe progression on a typical run.
Most notably, this model features a supportive J-Frame -- a firm EVA that runs down the medial side of the midsole and wraps around the heel to reduce pronation.
The combination of all these features lands the Hoka One One Arahi firmly on our list of best shoes for shin splints. These are a must-try for pronators! Keep the shin splints demons away by investing in a pair of these for the spring season.
5. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23
Many colors available
Trusstic System technology
Narrower toe box
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 23 is a perennial favorite of everyday runners seeking comfort and support. This shoe gets the job done! We also love that Asics gave us a a host of color schemes to choose from. With color choices ranging from poppy and bright to neutral, you can find a pair to match your personality, while knowing you'll be well supported as you set off to run.Read more
Featuring Asics' Trusstic System technology, this shoe utilizes lightweight materials and reinforced padding on high impact areas to provide excellent support without the need for bulky materials. Asics also added some gel in the heel to double down on support for heel-strikers. While this shoe is a bit on the heavier side (10.2oz), it won't weigh you down.
Also to love about the Asics Gel Nimbus design is that the upper really hugs your foot. The tongue and the heel are engineered to promote lockdown and prevent movement which can cause blisters. The uppers are a little on the bulky side and offer less breathability than other models, but its a small tradeoff for this shoe's lockdown foot support.
In short, the Asics Gel Nimbus 23 is an excellent everyday trainer which will provide excellent support, comfort, and durability to prevent shin splints.
6. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Guide rail system
3D print mesh upper
DNA Loft cushioning
Tends to run narrow
Tighter toe box
The "GTS" in Adrenaline GTS 21 stands for "Go-To-Shoe." We agree. Ranking in at #3 on our list, this shoe is a staple for runners seeking stability.Read more
A major stability feature of the Adrenaline GTS 21 is the that its built guide rails which promote proper gait and even out your weight distribution with every step. The midsole also boasts DNA Loft crash pads to provide excellent energy feedback and shock absorption.
The 3D print mesh upper cradles the foot and promotes lockdown while wicking away moisture to keep your feet cool and dry.
If you are seeking perfect blend of stability and lower profile to stave off shin splints, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is a great choice.
7. Saucony Triumph 18
We like most of the aesthetic options
A bit pricier
The Triumph 18 by Saucony is a classic everyday trainer known for its cushion, comfort, and fit. Featuring Saucony's PWRRUN+ midsole, this shoe is an excellent option for runners with shin splints.Read more
As mentioned above the Triumph 18's thick sole, featuring the PWRRUN+ midsole, is what stands out to us most on this shoe. We were not disappointed by the added boost and support we experienced across the entirety of the footbed. This is not your everyday EVA midsole! Plus, the 8mm drop makes this shoe a good all-around fit, and especially good for forefoot strikers.
You'll notice there is a lot of rubber on this shoe. While it's built for stability, it also weighs in on the heavier side of everyday training shoes (12.2 oz). For casual runners, this might not make a difference but more seasoned runners may opt for a lighter trainer.
The uppers are sleek and feature some interesting design aesthetics to compliment the FormFit engineered mesh uppers.
All in all, the Saucony Triumph 18 brings a compelling option to the table for any runner struggling with shin splints. Possibly the most durable shoe on this list, we'd recommend it as a best fit for the casual jogger or runner.
8. Brooks Glycerin 19
Exceptional softness, even over long distances
Stable and firm uppers
As common with Brooks, the aesthetics is rather plain
What's this...another Brooks shoe? Yes. Another Brooks shoe. What can we say? Brooks does what Brooks does. Stability, support, and full-foot comfort (especially for the heel-strikers out there) make Brooks a great choice for runners who battle shin splints. The Glycerin 19 marks our 3rd Brooks model on this list. We just couldn't choose between it and the Ghost 13!Read more
Brooks claims that the Glycerin 19 will provide you with "your softest run ever" and we have to agree that this ranks as one of the softest shoes you'll find.
Similar to the Ghost 13, the Glycerin 19 boasts a full-foot DNA Loft insole, but the Glycerin features a 10mm drop which will feel a bit more natural across multiple gaits and running styles. Over time and miles, we found that the softness stayed true whereas some other shoes began to feel mushy.
The uppers are breathable and supportive. Perhaps a bit too supportive for some as a few of our runners noted a definite firmness in the upper. Not stiff, but definitely not the most flexible you'll find.
At the end of the day, the incredible softness of the soles combined with the firm support of the uppers make the Brooks Glycerin 19 a strong choice for runners with shin splints issues. For the professional running crowd, we give these a high rank as recovery shoes. We even think they make great everyday out-on-the-town shoes!
9. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11
Fresh Foam X sole
Excellent midfoot support
Breathable mesh upper
The large "N" on the sides can be uncomfortable for wider feet
The latest generation of New Balance’s 1080 series, the v11 continues where its predecessor, the v10, left off. Featuring New Balance's Fresh Foam X, this shoe provides excellent comfort, a foot-cradling heel cup, and a lightweight-but-stable mesh upper, making it our #4 choice of best shoes to prevent shin splints.Read more
New Balance's previous model, the 1080v11, is held in high regard by casual and professional runners alike so we were cautiously hopeful that the v11 design didn't screw anything up. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
We found the Fresh Foam X sole to hold up over long distances--even at faster paces--and the stretch mesh upper formed to different foot sizes quite nicely. An exceptionally comfortable shoe with a noticeable midsole pop. The only negative note was from our runners with wider feet - some noted that the larger "N" on the outside of the shoe felt rigid and took some time to get used to and break in.
For any runner looking to avoid shin splints, the New Balance 1080v11 is an excellent choice for the casual or competitive runner.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When looking for the best trainers for shin splints, stability is PARAMOUNT.
Ensure that your shoe offers stability. You want a shoe that will keep your feet in the right position to avoid injuries, especially if you overpronate.
Also, consider your foot type. If you have flat feet, choose a pair of shoes which has support for flat feet. If your toes splay wide, you may want to look for a pair with a larger toe box.
You're gonna be spending a lot of time in your shoes. Make sure they're comfortable!
Check the cushioning system of the shoe to make sure that it is comfortable and supportive. Also, your arches and foot width will play a large part when ensuring a comfortable-fitting shoe.
The best sneakers for shin splints will offer excellent shock absorption.
A shoe's shock-absorbing capabilities begins with the sole. Generally speaking, the thicker the sole, the more shock absorption a shoe has. That said, many shoe companies have developed new technologies and cushioning structures which increase shock absorption while decreasing sole thickness.
Since different runners prefer different shoe stack heights, these developments offer different sole absorption options for all different sizes and styles of runners.
Every dedicated runner understands that their shoes take a beating.
When 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. Nobody wants is to spend $100+ on a pair of running shoes that fall apart in a month.
Whether or not you can avoid shin splints (and other injuries) will largely depend on your shoe's overall support.
You want shoes that firmly support your feet and ankles well (even more so if you're a trail runner). When choosing a shoe, be sure to look at its support structure while also considering taking your running style. People who enjoy barefoot-style running shoes will want something less supportive.
Even then, we encourage keeping a backup pair of shoes handy which offer more cushioning and support in case you start to feel shin splints developing.
Likewise, heavier runners will want to make sure they buy a pair of shoes with ample of support to help protect their feet and ankles from the added strain their weight causes on bones and joints.
Read also about running shoes for big guys.
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
The best shoe for shin splints can not only protect your shins, but also your 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
q: What are shin splints?
Shin splints are 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, it's good to think about getting the best shoes for shin splints.
q: What causes shin splints?
Below are some of the most prevalent causes of a runner having shin splints:
Runners dealing with overpronation 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
q: What is pronation?
Pronation is very common among athletes and is generally experienced by everyone to some degree. It's the natural inward rolling of one's 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. The stability of the shoes is determined by the amount of pronation that a runner experiences during their running sessions or when walking around.
q: How do I know if I have shin splints?
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 specifically 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 microfracture can either be tibia). An X-ray done by a professional can be the best way to diagnose this condition.
q: How do I prevent shin splints?
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 chance of 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 a 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
q: What are the best exercises for treating and preventing shin splints?
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 a 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.
q: How can I reliever may shin splint symptoms?
There are two methods of treating shin splints: surgical and non-surgical. The non-surgical ways are: