Going 'barefoot' to try and combat shin splints - any advice appreciated!

I have been suffering shin splints for the last 3 years, have exceeded my NHS Physio allowance and have not been running for 8 months. (Long story if I explain all that I have tried!)

So New Year, new attempt (again). This time I have bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Treksport. I still get twinges in my shins when I am walking or driving so I want to be careful.

Has anyone had any experiance with Vibrams/Shin Splints or any advice?

Thank you!


  • Have you heard of any evidence of Vibrams curing or preventing shinsplints. If so what are the theories are how they can prevent it. Also Amigo(are you a man?) why are you wearing just one calf guard. Could you explain why you are doing this in your picture. Apologies if you are a man, like your name suggests but the picture does look like a woman.
  • Haha, I am a woman, and the picture was taken 3 years ago when I first started getting them as I found it helped. I have not worn it for a while. I have spoken to the vibram sports team and a physio when at an event they were at and there has also been positive feedback online about Vibrams helping shin splints.

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Not tried myself & never suffered from shin splints, so my advice is all second-hand & anecdotal.  I was kinda interested so looked into it, but I've only gone as far as shoes with a lower heel-to-toe offset.

    Have you had a look at the following advice from Vibram? :


    If you own an Apple iDevice then there is the Merrell barefoot app, which is designed to help you transition to Merrell "barefoot" shoes but should be equally applicable to the Vibrams.

    I think the general advice is to take it slowly, and don't force it.  Also, your calves are likely to protest a bit - but they will adapt.

    Good luck and I hope they work for you!


  • Simple advice: start with SHORT distances (e.g. 1/4 mile) and work up, or you'll kill your calves and Achilles' tendons. This can be difficult if you find it feels great!

    Read up on barefoot running before you start. The basics for barefoot/minimalist running are: short stride, high cadence (about 180 strides/minute - that's 90 footfalls with each foot), landing with your foot underneath you, not out in front, landing on the midfoot rather than the heel (then let your heel touch down - don't try to stay on the forefoot).

    And if it hurts, rest - or you'll get a "too much too soon" injury.

    Barefoot purists would advise starting off actually barefoot. An advantage of that is that you can't build up the mileage too quickly, because the soles of your feet are too tender. Personally I went straight for minimalist shoes (really don't want to be worrying about glass, dog poop etc.), but you do have to be careful to work up the distances gradually.

  • Hi Amigo, 

    The fact that you are still getting pain when walking 3 years after the Shin Splints first started  and after resting them for 8 months makes me wonder if there is maybe something else going on and if you have had it properly investigated. 

    As a podiatrist who has regularly suffered with "shin splints" (it is a term coined to incoporate many different conditions that afftect the lower limb), it sounds as though there is something more than just a basic soft tissue injury. Have you ever been X-rayed? 

    You need to get to the bottom of the problem before you start running, regardless of the type of shoe or style of running you are going to do. 


  • Shouldn't it be Amiga?
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    If you still have shin splints then its pointless attempting to start training again. 

    If you can feel anything at all, training is pointless.

    If an injury has lasted 8 months then to be safe to train you would have to wait as long again after the pain had gone before starting.

    I had shin splints myself. Took 18 months of zero running for every last area of pain to dissipate. I had other things to do so didn't run again for another two years.

    Not even a hint of shin splints 25 years further down the road.

  • Thank you for all the advice. Ksizzlepod/RicF - I was never offered any other treatment on the NHS (such as xrays) and used up all of my physio allowance with them. If I am honest, I really can't afford private investigations image . If I go back 8 months I was not running regularly, it was literally the last time I ran. I have not run regularly for 2 years or so. The pain I currently get is not continuous, it is more like a ache/twinge every now and again, but the muscles down the inside of my legs and along the front of my shin bone can be sore if massaged. My thought is that working my muscles differently may strengthen/correct other muscles and help.

    Debra - Thank you for the barefoot advice. I had planned on just wearing them around the house and then walking in them to start with. And no, I don't fancy standing in dog poo either! - hence the shoes, but total barefoot was one of the things my physio did suggest last year. I didn't buy the shoes then as they were full price, but I just saw then half price so that's why I bought them now!

    Stutyr - Yes, thank you, I have had a good look online which was why I decided to try it. I will have a look at the app thanks!

  • I've been running with my vibram for about 600km according to my Endomondo.... and they have been brilliant (except for this weekend, but thats a different story)  Anyways, I completley agree with what Debra Bourne said, start slow and build up the distance or else you wont enjoy them.


    Also, as you are beggining and with this terrible weather try and keep them dry while running, nothing worse than a cold wet foot to start the year hehe.


    Finally, and most importantly: Step with the front of your foot (once again, like Debra Bourne said) this is key!! if you start landing with your heel you will notice a BIG difference and it will destroy your knees

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