Probably the most asked about question among runners is: how to stop shin splints when running? The best answer is forefoot running in barefoot like running shoes and here’s why.
2 Factors That Cause Shin Splints When Running
To treat shin splits, many healthcare professionals recommend thick,cushioned running shoes to reduce impact and to improve mechanical strategy to reduce impact. However, Fuente et al. (2015) did find that cushioned running shoes reduced both impact and over-pronation during running, cushioned running shoes did not improve mechanical strategy to reduce impact or loading –remember, it’s the high loading that causes shin splints.
Since cushioned running shoes failed to reduce impact because they failed to induce changes in mechanical strategy, the researchers concluded that cushioned running shoes are insufficient to protect against tibial overload that causes shin splints. But it doesn’t stop there.
Sasimontonkul et al. 2007 found that the vertical ground reaction force in heel strike running was the source of loading which was highly compressive posteriorly on the tibia. In the same study, the researchers also found that muscle forces involved in joint moments acted across the ankle contributed to high loading in heel striking, suggesting that most cases of shin splints are the result of the heel strike -blast waves pushing against the tibia.
Such findings lend credence to the idea that shin splints stems from foot strike technique (i.e. heel striking)– cushioned footwear facilitates heel strike, too!
Therefore, it’s better to modify your mechanical strategy by changing from heel strike to forefoot strike running rather than relying on running shoes since shoe materials degrade over-time anyway.
More From Run Forefoot:
Calcaneal Nerve Compression – Find out how heel strike running may contribute to nerve compression.
Pull, Not Push – Understand that pushing off the ground with your foot while you run can cause some major problems.
Are We Born to Run…Forefoot? – Humans are hardwired to run a certain way.
Why Heel Strikers Have No Luck with Footwear – Heel strike running hurts and shoes don’t always help.
Shoes for Forefoot Runners – My reviews on the running shoes I feel are best suited for forefoot running.
Davis I, Milner CE, Hamill J. Does increased loading during running lead to tibial stress fractures? A prospective study. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004; 36(5):S58-S58.
Fuente et al. Can cushioned shoes with anatomical insoles correct the impact in runners with recurring shin splints? J Exerc Sports Orthop, 2015; 2(1):1-5.
Robertson G, Caldwell G, Hamill J, Kamen G, Whittlesey S. Research Methods in Biomechanics. 2nd ed. USA: Human Kinetics; 2013.
Sasimontonkul et al. Bone contact forces on the distal tibia during the stance phase of running. J Biomech, 2007, 40:3503-3509.
Stacoff A, Reinschmidt C, Nigg BM, van den Bogert AJ, Lundberg A, Denoth J, et al. Effects of foot orthoses on skeletal motion during running. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2000; 15(1):54-64.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.