Ah, shin splints—one of the most common injuries that sidelines runners, particularly those who increase mileage or intensity too quickly. Shin splints, or more specifically, pain along the tibia bone, are caused by repetitive stress to the shin, and other than a classic case of too-much-too-soon, can be aggravated by poor running form, weak muscles, and sneakers that are either worn out or not supportive enough. And that’s why you’re here: to find the best running shoes for shin splints.
There are four main factors to consider when finding the best shoe for shin splints, no matter if you’re a man or a woman, beginner or advanced:
- Shock Absorption
Shin splints can be aggravated by overpronation—when your feet go too far inward while running—so the best shoes for shin splints tend to overlap with those that are stable enough to correct for any overpronation and imbalances. We also look for shoes that are well-cushioned and absorb the impact forces created by our feet hitting the ground. A well-cushioned shoe leads to proper shock absorption.
Below you’ll find the Run the Shoes guide to the best running shoes for shin splints. There isn’t too much of a difference from brand to brand, as each of the major shoe brands has a shoe that checks all the above factors, so it really comes down to the price you’re willing to spend and which brand you’re loyal to. (My personal favorite sneaker for shin splints is the Hoka Clifton, but more on that below.)
Hoka One One Clifton
I’ve spoken to a lot of runners who swear that any of their niggles, shin splints or otherwise, have gone away once they started wearing a pair of Hoka Cliftons. I realize that’s an overgeneralization but the point is that Hoka really nails the combination of well-cushioned and lightweight with the Cliftons. If you’re prone to shin splints, you want to make sure your shoes have enough cushioning to absorb shock while still being firm, and the Cliftons deliver on this thanks to their EVA foam midsole.
Hoka One One Arahi
Because cushioning is a key feature of a shoe that’s best for dealing with shin splints, and cushioning is synonymous with Hoka, we have two options from the brand in this buying guide. The Arahi is Hoka’s stability-first shoe and is known for its “J-frame” technology, a literal J-shaped foam support frame that extends from the outside of the shoe to the inner medial side to combat overpronation. If the cause of your shin splints is overpronation, these are good option. They’re slightly heavier than the Clifton, but both have the same stack height and 5mm heel-to-toe drop.
Asics Gel Nimbus
The Gel Nimbus is an everyday running shoe from Asics that offers neutral support and max cushioning. The Gel that you see in the heel serves to absorb shock when your foot touches the ground. We think it’s a better shoe for shin splints than the Gel Cumulus, another popular, and slightly less expensive, shoe from Asics, because it has more cushioning.
The Saucony choice that takes the prize for the best shoe for shin splints is the Triumph, which like the Asics Gel Nimbus, has been around for a while (as of July 2021, it’s currently in its 19th iteration). It’s a very stable shoe (great for overpronators!) and highly-cushioned, and holds up to long distances. (I also love how the design of the newest version, pictured above, complements my beloved Saucony Endorphin Speed 2.)
Nike React Infinity Run
The Nike React Infinity made a big splash when it was released in January 2020 due entirely to the fact that its marketing campaign was based around the idea that it prevents running-related injuries. It’s comical how bold that claim is, but it did get people to buy the shoe because nothing motivates a runner like the promise of pain-free time on the feet, including me. I do like this shoe—it has a rocker-like bottom and a wide, comfortable foam midsole. It’s also a very stable shoe and is cushioned but not crazy plush. If you’re loyal to Nike, this is a great choice for shin splint prevention.