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We Tested Dozens of Running Shoes. These Comfy Pairs Help Beat Shin Splints

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Shin splints are a high barrier to running. New or returning runners will start, only for that dreaded, nagging pain in their lower legs to halt their progress. I’ve been there—calf and shin pain are the factors that most often prevent me from logging more mileage

I asked Dylan Sykes, D.P.T. and 2:25 marathoner, about the best running shoes to prevent shin splints. 

“I’d be happy to help, but you might not like my answers,” he initially responded.

When we got to the nitty-gritty, he explained: Shin splints aren’t a result of shoe choice—though that can help or hurt—but rather a result of “too much, too soon.”

The intense shin pain you experience during or after running, Sykes added, is due to some weakness found in your leg, ankle, or foot. For most, this is simply a result of starting to run after a long break, or drastically increasing your running over a short time. The shin splints flare up and deliver sharp, consistent aches where your muscles and shin bone meet.

Again, running shoes alone can’t prevent shin splints. But here’s the good news: They can help alleviate shooting pain and discomfort. We rounded up a list of the best running shoes for those struggling with shin splints, including our best overall pick, Asics NovaBlast 4, a comfortable and versatile trainer at a great price.

Related: We Tested Dozens of Running Shoes. These Are the Best for Any Kind of Run

Best Overall Running Shoe for Shin Splints: Asics NovaBlast 4

Asics NovaBlast 4

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If you only have the budget for one running shoe, I recommend the Asics NovaBlast 4 above all else. For $140, it’s an approachable, high-performance cushioned shoe that’s great for new and returning runners alike. The excellent FF Blast+ foam isn’t overly soft or plodding either; the midsole provides a perfect blend of comfort and response. At 9.2 ounces, it’s lightweight for a daily trainer, and the refined upper, while a bit less breathable than the outgoing version, is supremely comfortable and locks your foot in place. The 8mm heel-toe drop is also easy on the lower legs. Some trainers don’t offer much versatility, but the NovaBlast 4 helps you safely begin or accelerate serious running and reliably hit goals as you grow stronger.

Weight: 9.2 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 8mm

Pros:

  • Responsive
  • Extremely comfortable underfoot
  • Transitions smoothly during stride
  • Locked-in fit

Cons:

  • Upper not as breathable as other options on this list
$140 at Asics
$140 at Zappos
$140 at Amazon

Best for New Runners with Shin Splints: Brooks Ghost 16

Brooks Ghost 16

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The Brooks Ghost 16 is an improvement over an already well-loved shoe. DNA Loft v3 foam is lighter and bouncier, which takes this classic neutral running shoe to a new level. The 12mm heel-toe drop is the largest on this list, and while that isn’t for everyone, whenever I ever experience calf or lower-leg pain, I tend to gravitate toward higher drops to avoid overworking my Achilles and shins. Indeed, if you are a heavier runner or land with a lot of heel impact, the Ghost 16 is ideal. Bonus: Brooks uppers and outsoles are always reliable.

Weight: 9.5 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 12mm

Pros:

  • Comfortable, reliable, and long-lasting
  • Works for a huge cross section of runners
  • Available in a variety of widths and colorways

Cons:

  • High heel-toe drop not for everyone
$140 at Brooks

Most Versatile Running Shoe for Shin Splints: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

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The New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v4 is a beast of a trainer because of its versatility. Speedwork? These shoes can bolt. Distance? They’re mercifully comfortable. At 7.5 ounces, they’re some of the lightest trainers you’ll find, yet durable and robust enough for all runs. And for folks who don’t want the higher 8mm or 10mm drop, the Rebel’s 6mm drop is a sweet spot. If you want one shoe for all your training runs and races, the Rebel is a top option. That said, I noticed some heel slippage, as the counter isn’t very cushioned or well-fitting.

Weight: 7.5 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 6mm

Pros:

  • Versatile
  • Light and fun
  • Cushioned and durable

Cons:

  • Some heel slippage
  • Heel counter not very comfortable
$140 at New Balance
$140 at Zappos

Best Racing Shoe for Shin Splints: Adidas Adios Boston 12

Adidas Adios Boston 12

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Most runners don’t need a super shoe to race well, and often the minimal, rigid construction of the top racers aren’t comfortable or practical for the average runner. So the Adidas Adios Boston 12 is great for runners seeking a capable, accessible racing shoe. More of a super trainer, the Boston 12 features Adidas’ capable EnergyRods system, which functions like a carbon plate but is fingered for more pliability and foot conformation. The cushion is comfortable enough for long runs, yet bouncy enough that it returns energy even late in the effort. At 9.2 ounces, these shoes may be slightly heavier than the top racers, but they feel vastly better. There could be a bit more structure in the heel and tongue to make the shoe fit more closely. But for $160, you save roughly $100 over high-end racing shoes.

Weight: 9.2 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 7mm

Pros:

  • Super-shoe features at a lower cost
  • Fun, springy ride
  • Accommodating, accessible cushion
  • Breathable upper

Cons:

  • Flimsy heel counter
  • Poor tongue and lacing system
  • Heavier than top racers
$160 at Adidas
$160 at Amazon

More Running Shoes That Help Alleviate Shin Splints

Best for Bigger Runners With Shin Splints: Asics Gel-Nimbus 26

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Max-cushion shoes are sometimes squishy and unresponsive. And sure, Asics Gel cushioning has a solid rep for comfort. But the foam in the Gel-Nimbus 26 is especially responsive, and the stable, plush bed of cushioning makes it an excellent shoe for bigger, heavier runners. When shin splints happen because parts of the ankle, leg, or foot complex aren’t strong enough, runners who carry a bit of extra weight are at increased risk for overworking their muscles. The combination of a soft, stretchy upper, durable outsole, and fantastic midsole comfort eases the impact of running, making the Gel-Nimbus 26 a trusty shoe for gradually increasing mileage. 

Weight: 10.7 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 8mm

Pros:

  • Plush heel cushioning
  • Comfortable, stretchy sock-like liner
  • Soft, bouncy foam
  • Comes in a variety of widths, colorways, and outsoles

Cons:

  • Not good for the most speedy runs
  • Expensive compared to other Asics
$160 at Asics
$160 at Zappos
$160 at Amazon

Best Max-Cushion Trail Shoe for Runners With Shin Splints: New Balance More Trail v3

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My go-to trail shoe for easy days and recovery runs is the New Balance More Trail v3. These max-stack trail trainers seem like they would be cumbersome to run in, at least based on appearance. But actually, they’re surprisingly stable and snug. The More Trail v3 has plush foam that is soft and supportive to help cushion any sore spots from rocks or gravel. The Vibram treads on the outsole are aggressive and grippy. My only qualm is that these aren’t the most versatile trail shoes, since while you can log long trail miles, they can’t handle aggressive ascents, descents, or short and fast efforts.

Weight: 11.4 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 4mm

Pros:

  • Plush and comfortable
  • Flexible midsole
  • Grippy Vibram lugs
  • Available in three widths
  • Super stable on trails

Cons:

  • Not great for speedy trail runs
  • Heavy
  • Naturally wide
$160 at New Balance
$160 at Zappos

Best Fast Running Shoe for Shin Splints: Hoka Mach X

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When it comes to faster efforts, no shoe has come off my shelf more recently than the Hoka Mach X. In fact, these shoes are more comfortable when you are running fast. My feet felt light and springy off the ground, and I had some of my best speed workouts in these. At 9.2 ounces, they’re lightweight but robust, and the fit is spacious and accommodating. There’s enough outsole rubber for solid durability. At first, the somewhat stretchy laces struck me as a bit odd, but after running fast in these, I found I can really cinch them down without risk of hotspots, as they flex and stretch when sprinting. If you’re looking to mix speed back into your expanding running program, the Mach X makes a great partner.

Weight: 9.4 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 5mm

Pros:

  • Bouncy and supple
  • Comfortable and breathable upper
  • Can work for races

Cons:

  • Not as comfortable on slow runs
$180 at Hoka

Most Comfy Running Shoe for Shin Splints: Skechers GoRun Ride 11

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The Skechers GoRun Ride 11s is seriously fun to run in for a max-cushion trainer. The midsole foam beautifully blends softness and bounce. This stack is less than the GoRun Max lineup, but equally comfortable, making for a more versatile shoe, though it’s a little heavier than I’d like. The upper is made of breathable mesh and conforms well to a variety of foot shapes. And the Michelin outsole is tacky and durable. Best of all, at $120, the GoRun Ride 11 is one of the best value shoes, period.

Weight: 10.2 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 6mm

Pros:

  • Responsive and comfortable foam
  • Tacky and durable Michelin outsole rubber
  • Breathable upper

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Not incredibly versatile
$120 at Running Warehouse

Best Shoe for Getting Back Into Running: Tracksmith Eliot Runner

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The Tracksmith Eliot was a total dark-horse pick for this list, and it represents a really great niche in the sport of running. The truth is that running and staying consistent are hard. Tracksmith’s shoe is a great option for folks who ran in high school or college and haven’t participated in the sport as much lately. Why? Because it shows off how far shoe technology has come in recent years. In a minimal, handsome silhouette, Tracksmith’s first foray into footwear packs a ton of performance. It’s plush with responsive transitions on every stride. The upper is pliable and breathable, the outsole is grippy and durable, and the ride is quick and comfortable. But the fit is rather long and narrow. That said, if you fit in this Tracksmith trainer, it’s an awesome option for those retuning to running.

Weight: 9.2 ounces

Heel-Toe Drop: 9mm

Pros:

  • Responsive and comfortable
  • Pliable and breathable upper
  • Surprisingly durable and grippy outsole
  • Versatile enough for most runs

Cons:

  • Long and narrow fit
  • Expensive
$198 at Tracksmith

Related: We Tested Dozens of Running Jackets. These Are the Best for Any Kind of Weather

How We Chose the Best Running Shoes for Shin Splints

Though Sykes makes clear that shoe choice alone won’t fix your shin splints, he acknowledges it is important to find a shoe that feels comfortable. Two things to consider: Old, worn-down shoes aren’t going to help. And shoes with low heel-toe drops put a little more stress on the calf. Neither will necessarily give you shin splints, but fresh foam underfoot and a higher heel-toe drop, say 6mm or more, are a safer choice.

You’re guaranteed to run more miles if you’re healthy and feeling strong. Overdoing it as you start or get back into running is a recipe for shin splints. So, if you experience pain, back off and give your body rest. If pain persists for more than a week or two, Sykes says it might be time to consider seeing a physical therapist.

While there may not be one “right shoe,” there are plenty of wrong running shoes. Haven’t bought new running shoes since high school? It’s time for an upgrade. Trying to make sneakers or cross-trainers work? Get something designed for running.

Shoes that are excessively worn out or not engineered for running don’t help you avoid injury and, in many cases, cause injury. As important as it is to steadily increase your mileage and intensity, set yourself up for success with running shoes that feel right to you—and listen to your body along the way.

Why You Should Trust Me

I run a lot, for enjoyment rather than competition. And so my running shoe needs tend to be representative of a large group of runners. I run on all types of surfaces, from mountain trail runs to road runs, and I’ve experienced every ailment from shin splints to plantar fasciitis due to my high arches.

Over the past year, I ran hundreds of miles in nearly 100 pairs of running shoes spanning different brands. I’ve been testing many of these shoes since early 2023, and have had the opportunity to test older and newer versions side by side in some cases.

In addition to my individual testing, I worked with a team of Men’s Journal testers over a variety of reviews and gleaned insight from all types of runners, from heavier men looking for maximum support to elite, sub-four-minute milers.

Related: We Tested Every Hoka Running Shoe—These Are the Best



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Health

5 Family and Community Engagement Strategies to Improve Student Outcomes

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Strong school-family-community partnerships bring exceptional value to children’s education. A recent book by Karen L. Mapp, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and four other co-collaborators synthesizes the available research to explain who benefits from these partnerships and the many advantages of family and community engagement.

Everyone Wins! The Evidence for Family-School Partnerships & Implications for Practice (Scholastic, 2022) cites various research to demonstrate how family-community-school partnerships benefit all stakeholder groups when they’re approached effectively:

  • Students have higher grades, better attendance, deeper engagement in school, greater self-esteem, and higher rates of graduation and college attainment.
  • Educators enjoy better job satisfaction, better success motivating students from different backgrounds, more family support, and an improved mindset about students and their families.
  • Families have stronger relationships with their children and better rapport with educators. They can navigate school policies and advocate for their children more effectively.
  • Schools enjoy a better climate, more support from their community, and improved staff morale—leading to better teacher retention.
  • School districts and communities become better places to live and raise children. They experience fewer disciplinary problems, greater participation in afterschool programs, and more family and student involvement in decision-making.
community members talking and hugging in matching green volunteer t-shirts in front of an outdoor mural

What elements make school-family-community partnerships particularly effective? Here are five tips for how school systems can successfully promote family and community engagement in education and drive better student outcomes.

1. Successful Family Engagement Requires Intentional Leadership

Engaging with families has to be a core activity and not just an afterthought. It requires a total commitment by school and district leaders, and this commitment must include investing in the tools and training needed to help educators effectively engage with families from all backgrounds. It must be a real and intentional focus, and as Mapp says: “It’s real when I see it on your budget sheets.”

2. Teachers and Administrators Must Communicate Clearly and Consistently

To encourage family involvement in their children’s education, educators must interact with families frequently—and in many ways. For instance, teachers and administrators might engage with families in person during school drop-off and pick-up periods, set up a Family Information Board in the school’s lobby, write and distribute regular newsletters or blog posts, and/or send emails or text messages to parents.

Communicating effectively is one of the National PTA’s “National Standards for Family-School Partnerships,” which guides how schools and families should work together to support student success. Teachers and administrators should learn about and meet families’ preferred methods of communication, and families should be able to share and receive information in culturally and linguistically relevant ways.

3. Develop Healthy, Positive Relationships Based on Mutual Trust and Respect

Interactions between educators and families should be positive and reciprocal, with families feeling valued and supported. Educators can establish trust and encourage healthy, two-way communications with families by sharing information about their children’s positive behaviors and accomplishments and which skills may need work. Listen to all parents and provide opportunities for shared decision-making.

4. Be Mindful of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Welcoming all families and fostering a sense of belonging is another National PTA standard. When families engage with your school, do they feel respected, understood, and connected to the school community?

To ensure equity and inclusion, learn about the families you serve and their unique needs and challenges. Use culturally responsive engagement practices. Create opportunities for connection, especially with historically marginalized families and students. Learn about and seek to remove barriers for families to participate fully in their children’s education.

5. Help Families Support and Extend the Learning at Home

Students learn more effectively when they have opportunities at home to practice, reinforce, or extend the skills and lessons they’ve learned in school. Educators can facilitate this process by giving families specific ideas for expanding their children’s learning at home, such as by incorporating core math and literacy concepts into everyday routines.

Schools can also make instructional resources such as take-home packs, activity sets, and other materials available to families to support their children’s education.

How School Specialty® Can Help

School Specialty has more than six decades of experience in providing tools, resources, and strategies that promote successful education both in school and at home. We offer arts and crafts, early childhood, ELA, math, science, STEM/STEAM, physical education, special needs, and social emotional learning resources for families, as well as games, puzzles, and general supplies.

How do you promote family engagement in your classroom and community? Let us know in the comments!





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Preteens and skincare: What parents should know – CHOC

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Published on: April 16, 2024
Last updated: April 9, 2024

Should teens and preteens be using so many skincare products with fancy ingredients? A pediatric dermatologist answers parents’ questions.

Link: https://health.choc.org/preteens-and-skincare-what-parents-should-know/



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Living With Crohn’s: My Daily Routine

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By Michelle Pickens, as told to Danny Bonvissuto

As early as I can remember, I’ve had issues with my health. When I was little, I had severe constipation, nausea, vomiting, and food sensitivities.

As I got older, those symptoms transitioned into diarrhea, irregular bowel movements, and pain. I was always very fatigued and my immune system was weak: The second someone in my class had the cold or flu, I’d get it, too. Looking back, it was a sign.

From a mental perspective, my anxiety was high. What if I need to find a bathroom? What if I’m nauseous? Doctors would say, “Oh, you’ll grow out of it. It’s just your anxiety.”

Finally, a Diagnosis

After years of misdiagnosis, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2015. I was 23 and had just finished up college while working full time. My symptoms were getting worse. I had a lot of vomiting and pain. The fatigue was at the point where it was difficult for me to work or even get out of bed some days.

It was so bad it pushed me to seek additional care. I took a couple months off, looked for another job, and went through all the doctor appointments it took to get the diagnosis.

There’s no blood test for Crohn’s. No way to prove what you’re feeling. Eventually I saw the right doctor, who did a test with a pill camera called a small bowel capsule. (This is a pill-sized camera that you swallow, allowing doctors to see inside your digestive system.) It tracked my intestines and was able to get into a blind spot where neither a colonoscopy nor endoscopy can see inflammation. 

It was such a relief to get the diagnosis because it made me feel like I wasn’t crazy. For so many years I knew something was wrong and couldn’t name it. I also felt hopeful. Once I knew what I was dealing with, I knew I could work to get to a better place.

Sharing My Story

In 2016, I started a blog called Crohnically Blonde as an outlet to connect with people as I go through the stages of dealing with Crohn’s. When I first started to share, there weren’t as many people talking about it.

I’ve been able to form relationships in an online community through shared experiences. I hope someone can see my story and feel that, if they’re at the beginning of their journey, there’s a way to get through.

Managing My Medication

At first, I was on a lot of medication that wasn’t working well and was a huge imposition on my schedule. Now I get infusions of an immunosuppressive drug every 7 weeks.

It means being away from my family and job for 4-5 hours, and managing child-care coverage during the treatment and the weekend after, because I feel almost flu-like. The extra help allows me to rest and fuel back up after the treatment.

I have the option to be on more medications to control my symptoms. But I try to shy away from those and manage it on my own because I don’t want to be on medicine for every single thing.

Before I had my son, I was more willing to try different medications. But while I was pregnant, I could barely be on any of the Crohn’s medicines. After I had him, it didn’t make sense to be reliant on them.

Crohn’s, Pregnancy, and Motherhood

Crohn’s affected me throughout my pregnancy. I got very sick in my third trimester because I went off my immunosuppressive drug to avoid passing any on to the baby. I ended up having to be induced early so I could get back on the medication as soon as possible.

My son, Maddox, is 1 now. Crohn’s changed my expectation of what I thought motherhood would be.

I’ve learned that I’d rather be present and able to enjoy him in the good moments than push it when I’m sick. It’s been difficult. But if I’m not well, I can’t be there for my child. I try to be with him as much as I can, but there are times when I need to step back and take an hourlong nap.

I have a great support system: My husband, mom, or mother-in-law can step in and help out for a little while, and when I feel better, I can be a better mom. There are also days when I don’t have accessible help. In those situations, I’ll do lower-key activities that I can enjoy with him but that aren’t physically demanding on me.

Schedule and Adjust

Right now I’m in a pretty good spot. I work from home now, as a recruiter for a tech company, and that makes a huge difference. A lot of my anxiety in the past was around being in an office and being sick. Now that I can work remotely, it’s such a game changer.

But Crohn’s still affects my day-to-day. I have days where I’m feeling sick, and need to rest and change my plans so I’m home and not out somewhere.

No matter how planned-out I have my day or week, if I’m not feeling well that takes precedence. I like to be a very scheduled person. But I have to roll with the punches and have a plan B.

The biggest challenge is managing my sleep and stress. They’re both very influential in symptom flare-ups. I have to get at least 8 hours of sleep, no matter what. And I try to incorporate time to de-stress, like reading a book or relaxing at the end of the day.

Going to therapy helps offset stress as well, and is now part of my ingrained self-care schedule.

Social Life Strategies

My co-workers, family, and friends are very understanding. But that wasn’t the case at first. The more open I’ve been about Crohn’s, the more people understand that I’m not flaking out if I have to change plans; there’s an underlying reason.

I only have a certain amount of energy, so now I pick and choose. I know I need to work and be with my family, which means I have less energy to put into social situations.

I plan out what I’m comfortable doing, but have also become comfortable with changing plans. Even if I’m excited to go out to dinner with a friend, I don’t push it if I feel terrible that day.

Food in Flux

I’ve followed a gluten-free diet for years. I started with an elimination diet and realized that gluten was bothering me.

Other foods aren’t as black and white. I can eat a salad one day and it’s fine, and eat the same salad the next day and it makes me sick. I repeat the safe foods that don’t make me sick and stick to a general schedule of three meals a day that are pretty much all gluten free.

Sometimes the timing matters: I’ll wake up and feel nauseated and need a starchy food like dry cereal. If I’m going on a road trip, or have a big event, like a wedding, I plan it out and try to be careful about what I eat leading up to it because I don’t want to be sick. But it’s hard because you never really know. It’s kind of a gamble.

Flexibility Is Key

I’ve learned to be as flexible as possible. I never know what each day is going to bring, I just have to trust that my body is telling what it needs for that specific day. That’s my priority, and everything else can wait.

 



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