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How to Choose the Best Insoles for Shin Splints

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Siphokazi Mdidimba
Edited by Siphokazi Mdidimba

Updated January 31, 2024.

A black and white image of someone holding their shin with painful area highlighted in red

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are a common overuse injury that presents with pain along the inner edge of the shin bone. It is most common in athletes, dancers, military recruits, and people with flat feet and high arches. The risk for shin splints also increases in those who wear unsupportive shoes when exercising and individuals with vitamin D deficiency or osteopenia.

Pain is the most common symptom in those with shin splints. The pain can range from mild to severe, be sharp or dull, and vary with activity level.

Best Treatments for Shin Splints

Shin splints will resolve with treatment. To deal with the symptoms, you need a combination of several of the following:

  1. NSAIDs Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will also reduce swelling and pain caused by the shin splint.
  2. Rest Perhaps the topmost advice for anyone suffering from shin splints is to rest. Resting for a few weeks or longer will give your muscles and bones room to recover. Even after recovery, return to activity should be gradual to reduce the risk of recurrence.
  3. Ice With shin splints, the muscles and tendons become inflamed at their insertion near the shin bone. Hence, applying ice or a cold compress to the shin for 20 minutes per use will relieve the swelling and pain.
  4. Nutritional supplement Since vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of shin splints, taking a Vitamin D3 supplement (1000 to 2000 IU daily) may help improve bone health.
  5. Proper shoes and insoles The right shoes and insoles will support your foot arches and reduce the strain on your lower limb muscles.

How Insoles for Shin Splints Work

Insoles are perhaps one of the most effective treatments for shin splints. They provide support for the feet and legs and maintain normal body alignment. In turn, this minimizes the strain on the ankle stabilizing muscles and fast tracks the healing of shin splints. It also guarantees the stability of the foot and ankle when running, reducing the risk of injury.

Choosing the Right Insoles for Shin Splints

There's nothing worse than having to sit out the things you love doing because of pain. Doing everything you can to prevent shin splints and other repetitive stress injuries will keep you going for as long as you want, pain-free. And it's as easy as adding the right insoles to your footwear.

Deciding which insole is the best for your shin splints may not come easily. This is likely because there are different kinds of insoles in the market. The best arch supports for shin splints will have the following features:

  • Proper contouring Insoles work best when they fit your feet perfectly. When they are too high, they’ll cause more pain. If they are too low, they will not provide any relief either. The best insole for shin splints is the one that provides maximum support across the length of your foot arch.
  • Firm support Ideally, you need an insole with firm support if you'll be spending a lot of time running or dancing across hard surfaces. A cushioned insole, though comfortable, will not be able to prevent a shin splint. But an insole with firm but flexible support will.
  • Heel stabilization The best insoles for shin splints provide added stability to the heels via a deep heel cup. These heel cups cushion the fatty pad and the heel bone, increasing shock absorption and reducing the risk of overpronation. Consequently, such an insole also improves your balance and alignment while walking.
  • Custom insoles While there may be many over-the-counter insoles, they don’t quite compare to custom insoles based on design. Custom insoles are specifically designed by professionals to address symptoms of specific conditions. Thus, they are designed with this in mind and tend to be more effective in bringing the desired result. They also tend to be more durable due to the quality of fabrication materials.

Are All Insoles Good for Shin Splints?

With the right insoles, you can both treat and prevent shin splints. However, since insoles are not created equally, you have to ensure you choose the right insole for the best effect. While over-the-counter insoles may be helpful for some conditions like flat feet, they are not good for all conditions. Custom insoles make for better choices in this regard and Upstep custom insoles lead the way.