Of all the common injuries, shin splits may be uniquely terrifying for dedicated runners. Most of our aches and pains eventually heal with rest and rehabilitation. Shin splits do, too—unless that twinge in your lower leg is a stress fracture developing. So instead of lying awake at night, imagining yourself as the next feature on some “Gruesome Jogging Injuries of the Week” video channel, now might be the right time to look for the best running shoes for shin splints.
Based on a survey of 11,000 runners, what helps in many cases is more cushioning at the front of the shoe to reduce shin impact. Traditional trainers drop 10 mm or more in height from heel to toe, leaving not much sole between a runner’s forefoot and the unforgiving concrete. Many of the shoes on this list take a different approach, evening out the heel and forefoot sole heights. If you’re already a fan of zero-drop and low-drop shoes, this is a great list for you. But you’ll also find shoes with more traditional approaches to cushioning runners’ feet, and even some lightweight up tempo and racing shoes, too.
*updated June 1, 2019
12. New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $125 Stability Shoe (links to Amazon)
The Vongo, named for a village of 388 people in Burkina Faso—wait, let’s try this again. The Vongo, named for a defunct video on demand service from last decade—never mind. “Vongo” is an unusual name for an unusual shoe that combines the ample, soft forefoot cushioning of a low-drop shoe with the stability features needed by runners who overpronate. If you’re looking for support running shoes for shin splints, Vongo is a name to remember.
11. Brooks Ravenna 9, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $110 Stability Shoe (links to Amazon)
Switching to low-drop shoes can take time. If you instead prefer a support trainer with a more traditional 10 mm drop, the Ravenna is a great place to start. Runners praise the Ravenna 9 for a smooth ride that is cushioned but springy, while the Runners World editors have named it a best buy for offering premium materials at a bargain price. The Ravenna is the least expensive support trainer on this list, and also a strong candidate for the best running shoe for shin splints.
10. Brooks Launch 6, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $100 Neutral Shoe (links to Amazon)
What’s even less expensive than the Ravenna? I’ll take, “What are the best running shoes for shin splints for $100, Alexa.” The Launch 6 is a versatile shoe that offers the flexibility and responsiveness you look for on a speed workout day and the cushioning you count on to see you through your weekly mileage. This is one of the best running trainers for shin splints.
9. Hoka One One Clifton 5, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $130 Neutral Shoe (links to Amazon)
On a list of the best running shoes for shin pain, running shoe manufacturer Hoka One One is a name you would expect to see. The Clifton’s low drop, high stack soles put lots of cushion where you need it to reduce impact on your shins. The height and softness of the sole at both heel and forefoot beat almost any other shoe, but not by adding weight: the Clifton 5 is lighter than all but three other shoes on the list.
8. Hoka One One Bondi 6, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $150 Neutral Shoe (links to Amazon)
While the Clifton 5 has more heel and forefoot padding than almost any other shoe, it meets its match in the Bondi 6, the most cushioned of any model from Hoka. In fact, that's why it's the best shoe for back pain. If you’ve got twinges in your shin and visions of your next run ending like that MMA fighter who kicked his opponent in just the wrong way (don’t look up the video; trust me on this one), and you’re looking for the ultimate weapon on the list of best running trainers for shin splits, the Bondi 5 might be up to the challenge.
7. Brooks Ghost 11, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $120 (links to Amazon)
The Hoka formula is effective, but Brooks actually lands the most models on the list of best running shoes for shin splints. The Ghost 11 provides a well-cushioned heel and lots of stability features for a neutral shoe, and it enjoys a reputation for quality construction and reliability, as well as its status as a Runners World editor’s choice.
6. Newton Gravity 7, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $175 (links to Amazon)
Newton, like Hoka, is another new company that has focused on highly cushioned low-drop running shoes over the last decade. The Gravity 7 is another shoe that masters the uptempo/daily trainer split by offering both good energy return and lots of cushion, especially in the forefoot, where people looking for the best running sneakers for shin splints need it most.
5. Mizuno Wave Inspire 14, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $120 (links to Amazon)
Low drop shoes are not for everybody. If you run in support shoes and are more interested in a standard heel-toe drop of 10 mm for your daily running, the Inspire 14 is the top-rated daily support trainer on this list. Runners often say that the Inspire feels light on the feet, and it combines a soft forefoot with lots of cushioning in the heel, making it one of the best running shoes, shin splints or no shin splints.
4. Asics Gel-Cumulus 20, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $120 (links to Amazon)
For the best shoes for shin splints, women may want to give particular consideration to Asics, a company that designs the soles of its women’s models specifically for the structure of women’s feet. The Cumulus 20 has attracted a following by offering plush cushioning, especially in the forefoot, at a budget price—it’s little more expensive than the best-buy Ravenna.
3. Altra Escalante 1.5, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $130 (links to Amazon)
Along with Hoka and Newton, Altra is the third upstart that began offering low drop—or with Altra, zero drop—running shoes in the late 2000s. That leaves plenty of room for ample forefoot cushioning, even in the Escalante 1.5, an uptempo racing shoe that is the lightest model on this list and offers the highest energy return. The Escalante is not just one of the best sneakers for shin splints, but also another Runner’s World editor’s choice.
2. Asics Gel-Nimbus 21, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $160 (links to Amazon)
When looking for the best shoes for shin splints, women especially should think about Asics (and try not to about their shin pain resulting in something like that one gymnast on the vault at the Rio Olympics). Like the Cumulus, the soles of the Nimbus 21 women’s models have been tuned to women’s feet, but the Nimbus spares no expense when it comes to premium padding and luxurious comfort, making the Nimbus the highest rated standard-drop neutral trainer on this list.
1. Saucony Freedom ISO 2, Men’s, Women’s MSRP $160 (links to Amazon)
Saucony, founded back in 1898, shows that innovation is not the exclusive province of start-ups. Each of its models is getting the ISO makeover, which means pairing a newly designed upper with a sock-like fit to high-tech soles. The result is not just the top spot on the list of best shoes for shin splints, but a shoe that is ready for both daily mileage and uptempo workouts. With just a 4 mm heel drop, it’s the second lightest and springiest shoe on this list. Even with shin splits, you can have it all (but, seriously, don’t look up the videos).