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. This condition can be a huge deterrent to running, making us want to give up on the whole enterprise. While the experts are 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 this ailment, but we’ve compiled a list of running designs that we believe will help keep you from being plagued by them in the future.
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
Dynamic ISOFIT Mesh Upper
EVERUN Plush Cushioning
Outstanding Medial Support
Prevents Rocking Motions
For Mild to Severe Pronators
1. Asics Gel-Kayano 24
Stretchy Mesh with Reinforcements
Gel Cushioning System
Complete Bounce Back
Needs Breaking In
Sole Wears Out Quickly
While ASICS running footwear is popular all over the world for its performance and comfort features, the Gel-Kayano 24 is by far the most famous and most sought-after design. And with good reason. This option comes equipped with a plethora of technologies meant to improve shock absorption, provide security and support, and correct overpronation all at the same time. It is sleek, it is powerful, and it will deliver one of the best running experiences you’ve ever had!
The Gel-Kayano 24 has a FluidFit upper, which combines stretchy mesh materials and reinforcements that adapt to the shape of the foot and provide an amazing fit. The heel counter is strengthened with an exoskeleton for superior support, and there are special Gel cushioning systems in the rear and forefoot to neutralize impact and improve toe-offs. The midsole is outfitted with the Flytefoam technology which consists of reinforced fibers for a complete bounce back.
Additionally, on the outsole of the Kayano 24, you will find the Guidance Line technology which improves gait efficiency and secures the midfoot area.
With all of these high-tech features listed, you may worry that the ASICS Gel-Kayano 24 is out of your reach, budget-wise. However, this option is no more expensive than any other on our list, and you will find that it is everything you've ever dreamed of, packed in a lightweight, performance-driven design.
2. Saucony Hurricane ISO 5
Dynamic ISOFIT Mesh Upper
EVERUN Plush Cushioning
Outstanding Medial Support
Prevents Rocking Motions
For Mild to Severe Pronators
Not willing to sacrifice cushioning for more stability, Saucony crafted the new Hurricane ISO 5 as a guidance solution for moderate to severe pronators. This design has the EVERUN midsole and topsole construction that is the signature of the brand and that provides maximum medial support. Moreover, the fit of the Hurricane ISO 5 is adaptable, and it is best utilized on roads and tracks, at any pace you wish to set for yourself.
The Hurricane ISO 5 has a breathable mesh upper with an ISOFIT system for a dynamic, adaptable fit to the shape and the movement of your foot. Inside, you will find the EVERUN midsole, and an EVERUN topsole which deliver energy return and plush cushioning. This technology also prevents unwanted rolling and provides exceptional support in the middle of the foot. The footbed is a FORMFIT design, with performance contours, and the outsole is made from rubber, for slip and skid resistance.
The Saucony Hurricane ISO 5 is geared towards those who have problems with overpronation, and who need help with stabilizing their movements during a run. It is built to make you feel cushioned, comfortable, and safe in the knowledge that your legs are not straining too hard during your runs.
3. New Balance 940V3
High Density Stabilizing Post
T-BEAM Torsion Control
Full-Length AZORB Cushioning
This list could not be complete without a New Balance design. As one of the leading manufacturers of supportive footwear, the brand doesn’t fall behind in terms of their supportive and stabilizing technologies, and the 940v3 is a prime example of that. This design is made for the overpronator, and everything in it is carefully constructed to ensure the best stability and cushioning possible. After all, the motto of the brand is, change your run, not your feet.
The New Balance 940v3 has a no-sew mesh upper with synthetic overlays for security. Inside, you will find a high-density post in the midfoot area, the T-BEAM technology for torsion control and full-length AZORB cushioning. This cushioning, in particular, is what softens the landing on your run and what will prevent pain from developing in your lower legs. Lastly, the 940v3 has a blown rubber outsole for maximum traction on all road surfaces.
The 940v3 is what you want when you suffer from extreme overpronation. It will correct your gait, keep you cushioned and comfortable, and you will love the stability aspects of the design. New Balance can almost never go wrong in terms of their running footwear, and the 940v3 is one of the best choices there is!
4. Adidas Ultraboost
Primeknit Breathable Upper
Responsive Boost Cushioning
Stabilizing Torsion System
For Wet and Dry Conditions
For Neutral Pronators
Not Very Durable
Size Runs Small
You have probably already heard about the revolutionary Adidas Boost technology, most notably represented in the world-famous Ultraboost design. This cushioning system is designed to provide incredible energy return, because, as the brand says, the more energy you give, the more you get. Furthermore, the Ultraboost has a flexible knit upper, a stabilizing system, and it is best suited for those with a neutral foot strike.
The Ultraboost comes with a Primeknit textile upper that fits you like a sock and gently hugs all the curves of your foot. It is amazingly breathable as well, keeping your feet cool and dry throughout the run. The star of the design is definitely the Boost midsole for outstanding cushioning and energy return, as well as the Stabilizing Torsion System for motion control. The outsole of the Ultraboost is also flexible, and made from Continental rubber for traction in both dry and wet conditions.
We are having a hard time finding a flaw with the Adidas Ultraboost. It is a superior running design, but it has also taken the fashion world by storm and can easily be worn as a lifestyle sneaker as well. Dive into the world of Adidas cushioning, and you will surely never look back!
5. Hoka One One Clifton 5
Engineered Mesh Construction
Full-Length EVA Midsole
Full Ground Contact
Small Toe Box
The goal of the Clifton 5 is to make you go very, very fast. What sets this design apart from the others on this list, and from the other Hoka One One option, is that it has cushioning which lasts through the entire life of the sneaker, and doesn’t compress too soon. To add to it, there is also an engineered mesh construction, as well as a full ground contact outsole. Go in comfort and speed in the Hoka One One Clifton 5, as the brand declares!
This option has a breathable upper with overlays to maximize airlfow in and out of the sneaker. The eyelets are reinforced for durability, and there is a Meta-Rocker which we can also find in the Arahi 2. The cushioning in the Clifton is the result of a full-length EVA midsole which doesn’t lose its shape over time, and a heel bevel is there for a smooth heel transition. The outsole of this option has special anti-abrasion zones to increase the longevity of the sneaker.
Compared to most other choices in this guide, the Clifton 5 puts emphasis not only on cushioning and comfort but also on durability. Thanks to the strong eyelets and the abrasion-resistant outsole, this pair is sure to last you longer than most running footwear in your arsenal. Enjoy the Clifton 5 for many miles to come!
6. Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14
Dynamic Fit Upper
Full-Length Air Zoom Unit
Nike React Technology
Foam Pods in Collar
Smooth, Snappy Feel
Tongue Not Cushioned
Needs More Heel Support
Similar in appearance to the Adidas Ultraboost, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 is created to take responsive cushioning into a whole other dimension. It is equipped with a full-length Zoom Air unit, as well as the Nike React technology to deliver a snappy ride. The sleek mesh upper is there for both breathability and support, and if you’re a fan of Nikes and want to avoid leg pain, then the Vomero 14 is definitely the cushioned choice for you.
This option has an upper with the Dynamic Fit technology, which uses a combination of Flywire cables and soft foam to achieve that perfect level of support in the midfoot area. The collar comes with foam pods which fit snugly to the heel, and the entire construction is wonderfully breathable and flexible. The Zoom Air unit we mentioned above is really unparalleled in terms of response and energy return, and the Nike React system is there to ensure there are no wobbly movements during your run.
Overall, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 is a solid, well-rounded choice if you’re looking for cushioning and midfoot support. It may not be as delicately engineered as some of the other options on our list, but it will definitely serve its purpose, and you will love how this minimalist sneaker supports your stride.
7. Hoka One One Arahi 2
Improved Mid- and Forefoot Breathability
Reflective Heel for Low Visibility
Meta-Rocker for Motion Control
The Hoka One One Arahi is a pioneer in what the brand calls Dynamic Stability, which is a type of stability the design achieves through leading the foot through its natural gait cycle. This doesn’t include any stiff or unyielding fabrics or materials and is meant to be comfortable and enjoyable without any constrictions. The Arahi 2 is a reflection of this principle, as it has all those innovative qualities, plus a brand new breathable upper and a snug fit.
The Arahi 2 has an upper with overlay placements that promote ventilation, especially in the mid- and forefoot areas. The heel is reflective for better visibility if you’re going out for a night run. This design is outfitted with a Meta-Rocker for a smooth ride that stabilizes your movements, and with an EVA J-Frame for lightweight support. Stability is achieved through flat-waisted geometry, and the outsole has special rubber parts strategically placed to achieve maximum durability.
Overall, the Arahi 2 is the pinnacle of innovation and is designed to deliver in the support and security departments. In this design, you will feel well-balanced on your feet, and you won’t have to worry about traffic when you’re out in low visibility. The Arahi 2 is leading the industry for stability footwear, and you would do well to try it out!
8. Brooks Bedlam
Fit Knit Adaptable Upper
Responsive, Cushioned Midsole
High Energy Return
Not for Flat Feet
Brooks running footwear is all about support and stability, and the Bedlam is no different. This unique, sock-like design comes with the DNA AMP and the GuideRails technologies for cushioning and proper alignment, which is just what you need to prevent pain in the lower legs. The Bedlam will take you down many a running path, and you won’t even feel a twinge of discomfort, no matter how long you’re running for!
The Bedlam has a Fit Knit upper which hugs the shape of your foot for a perfect fit. There is a hammock saddle in the upper for extra security. The DNA AMP system is actually a responsive midsole which cushions your steps, but also captures and returns energy to improve your run. There is also the GuideRails holistic technology which guides your feet into proper alignment. What you get with this is less wobbly movements, more stability, and a worry-free run!
With the Brooks Bedlam, you can put your mind at ease and not think about anything other than conquering those miles. This flexible, lightweight option is designed to keep you comfortable and supported as you run, and thanks to its alignment features, you can rest assured that you won’t be experiencing leg pain any time soon.
9. Salomon Speedcross 4
Sensifit System = Precise Fit
Quick-Drying Mesh Uppers
Quicklace Closure System
Limited Size Options
May Run Big
The Salomon Speedcross 4 is designed to fit snuggly on your foot and to give you the stability you need when you’re running to help prevent injuries. 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. Salomon is a brand name famous for its running gear, and you should definitely check it out here!
The Speedcross 4 has a unique Sensifit fitting system that helps cradle your foot and give you the stability you need when you’re running to prevent you from getting pain in your legs. 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 are meant to be worn anywhere and have been designed with a water- and debris-resistant mesh. But the mesh 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 that on the Speedcross 3, so you can hit the trails in confidence.
The different color and size combinations for this design result in a wide range of pricing options. If you’re not too picky about the color set, then you can pick up a pair of these 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.
10. Nike Free 5.0
Dual-Density Foam Insole
Wide Variety Of Color Options
Minimal Pronation Correction
Narrow Toe Box
The Nike Free 5.0 is a great all-around running design and will help you perform no matter how hard 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 trainer 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.
This all-around design is an all-around bargain. It's one of the lowest-priced options 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 footwear that doesn’t properly fit. Designs 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 footwear that doesn’t fit properly will keep you from maximizing your full potential.
Running footwear is designed to function best when it's properly fitted, so you’re wasting your money getting an expensive pair if it is the wrong size.
But beyond getting the right size, you’ll also want a design that snugly fits your foot. The better a shoe “hugs” your foot, the better your run will be and the more it will function as an extension of, rather than an addition to, your foot.
Several of the options in our list are constructed with memory foam inners and insoles that help your footwear conform to your feet, so you may want to start there when you’re looking for an option that fits well. Having a custom and comfortable fit 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 the ailment that is our focus here is sufficient cushioning. We say “sufficient” because you don’t want a design 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 footwear does not provide enough cushioning, then your feet will absorb all the impact of your run; if your footwear 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 footwear you choose is designed to take the stress away from your feet. Many of the items 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 footwear is helping your feet last as long as possible on your run.
While most running footwear is designed for neutral runners, several of the options 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 footwear companies will test your feet to determine your pronation type and then recommend a design 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 design 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.
Some options in our list are designed for specific pronation types, so check their descriptions 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 design made from lightweight materials. Running is difficult enough without adding heavy, clunky footwear 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 design, may mean you lose some of the needed cushioning discussed above.
Often, running footwear is 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 footwear is designed to be lightweight and to provide proper cushion and shock absorption, so you will have a wide variety of designs from which to choose.
Several of the items in our list claim that they are so lightweight that you’ll forget you’re wearing them, and as long as the design 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 designs 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 footwear will be a benefit when you run, helping you build up your endurance and muscle strength, but if the weight of your footwear is causing you pain, then switching to a lighter-weight option may help ease that pain and end up being much more beneficial in the long run.
Last, but definitely not the least, it's important to look at the value of a design before you purchase it. This doesn't necessarily have to do with the cost of the option. Sometimes cheaper designs have greater value because they are high-quality for the price, while other times more expensive choices can fall apart pretty quickly and end up not being worth the extra cash.
In order to glean the value of a product, look at its construction; whether it is made of high-quality, durable materials (think nylon or leather; mesh, while being amazingly lightweight, is not very durable), and if all the seams are properly sealed. Next, make sure that the rubber outsoles are not cracked or chipped in any way - they are quite durable, but if rubber cracks, there is nothing you can do to repair it.
Finally, it is important to know that just because a design comes from a well-known brand name, it doesn't always have to mean that it is high in quality. Brands produce footwear by the dozen, and it sometimes happens that a design is not up to par, that it doesn't hold up well over time. So be vigilant, and don't assume that just because you're looking at a flashy brand name the product is worth your money.
That being said, we've looked at each product on our list and rated its value based on the durability of the design, how well it will stand up to the pressure you put it under, and how well it alleviates the pain and the problems that come with this medical condition. Overall, no matter which option you go for - whether it be a budget-friendly one or a more high-tech design - you are definitely not going to regret investing your money in it.
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.
Other Factors to Consider
As we said at the beginning, no design will guarantee that you won’t experience shin splints when you run. There are several factors that can lead to the development of this condition (see the “FAQ” section below), but wearing the wrong type of footwear 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 pain will not only make our run less enjoyable and profitable, but it'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 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 this condition. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are shin splints and what causes them?
“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 this 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.
This condition 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 pain, make sure you are giving your legs plenty of rest. The condition will only get worse if you continue to run and don’t allow your legs to heal.
q: What is pronation and how does it relate to this condition?
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 design.
If you are an under-pronator, then your sole will wear the most on the outside. An overpronator will wear the inside of the sole. A neutral runner will wear their footwear in an S-pattern from front to back.
Because pronation determines how your foot distributes impact when you’re running, and because the condition that is our topic here occurs and worsens from impact, it’s important to have an appropriate footwear type to help prevent it. Knowing your pronation type will allow you to select the running sneaker that will best support your feet when you run.
q: What can I do to help prevent this condition?
The likelihood of you experiencing pain from running decreases as the stability of your foot while running increases.
So, make sure your footwear fits your feet properly. The right design 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.
q: What can I do to ease the pain if I develop this condition?
If you do happen to feel pain in your lower legs 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 the pavement are fine during your recovery).
To help ease the pain, 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 the condition. This procedure is known as a fasciotomy, and if your pain lasts for more than a few months, your doctor may recommend this treatment to help relieve it.
q: Are there any long-term effects of frequent shin splints?
If you don’t take measures to prevent this condition and don’t allow your body time to heal and recover from it, then you run the risk of a minor injury developing into a more serious issue. If you don’t treat the pain 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 the condition 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 pain from running, what activities do you recommend instead?
Low-impact exercises are the way to go if you continue experiencing pain and are unable to prevent it through the methods we’ve listed. Cycling, swimming, walking, and using an elliptical are all great ways to get in your cardio without developing the condition 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!