Best Running Shoes for Compartment Syndrome

7 Best Running Shoes for Compartment Syndrome 2021

The best running shoes for compartment syndrome allow you to run with minimal pounding on the heel area. Best Running Shoes for Compartment SyndromeThey are intended to force you to land with the midfoot or forefoot to lessen pressure on the lower leg.

Experts recommend wearing barefoot or minimalist running shoes to minimize the heel strike tendency and thus ease pressure on the lower leg.

See the reviews below for typical running shoes when you are suffering from compartment syndrome.

Related: Compartment Syndrome in Runners

Reviews: 7 Best Running Shoes for Compartment Syndrome 2021

1. Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Men’s – Top Pick 

Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Men’s running shoe is probably the most popular, most admired barefoot-inspired running shoe out there.

Best Running Shoes for Compartment Syndrome

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Its bare-foot construction has definitely out-innovated many barefoot-inspired running shoes in the market.

The power of this shoe comes from its barefoot construction which is needed for improving foot muscle tone and the biomechanics for both running and walking.

The outsole is perhaps the utmost plus for this shoe. At 5.5mm thickness and zero drop, the rubber outsole is flexible and molds with the contours of your underfoot. This shoe achieves a glove-like fitting which helps meet your foot’s functional and mechanical needs.

The thin outsole makes you to distinctly feel the gravel under your feet, but it’s good to know that you won’t get hurt. This ground-feel sensitivity and the zero drop make this shoe ideal for compartment syndrome, as these features help you to learn to correct your running form.

The upper of the Merrell Vapor Glove 2 is stretchy and airy with a wide toe-box. Not only does this free your foot but the wide toe leverage improves your balance control.

Materialistically, the Vapor Glove 2 is more durable and lightweight than the original Vapor Glove. Overall, this shoe is categorized as a very reliable minimalist running shoe with good traction, robust durability, and comfort at the outsole. I believe the Merrell Vapor Glove 2 shoe will be handy in improving your performance while cautioning you against injuries related to compartment syndrome.

  • Ground-feel sensitivity and Zero drop
  • Good traction
  • Stretchy and breathable
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Quite pricey

2. Altra Zero-Drop Superior 4.0

Although these shoes aren’t the barefoot type of running shoes, they come with a zero drop midsole designed to encourage midfoot striking. The purpose of this is to minimize the pressure exerted on your lower leg.

Altra Zero-Drop Superior 4.0

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The midsole cushioning entails a thin layer of Quantic foam designed to give you better ground control to minimize heel striking. Since it’s thicker than barefoot running shoes, it provides better protection from impacts and debris. Thus, it’s a perfect minimalist shoe for running on trails where you’re likely to encounter rocks, debris and sharp edges.

Also protecting your feet from debris and sharp edges is the StoneGuard making the footbed of this running shoe.

The inner flex grooves in the midsole aid in promoting natural foot mechanics and better foot control on running surfaces.

The trail-ready outsole guarantees reliable traction and durability on rugged surfaces. The claw-like lugs provide adequate grip on rugged surfaces.

Superior 4.0 comes with a form-fitting textile on its upper unit to give you a comfortable foot cover. Both stitched-on and printed overlays are incorporated to offer adequate support and protection for your feet.

  • Zero-drop platform encourages midfoot striking
  • Adequate cushioning for running on rugged surfaces
  • Good traction
  • Not heavy
  • Breathable, protective and supportive upper
  • Longer laces may be inconveniencing

3. New Balance Slip-on Minimus 10 (v1)

If you don’t want a completely zero-drop midsole, then you’re better to go with this minimus running shoe. It comes with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop which will be good for minimizing the tendency to heel strike.

New Balance Slip-on Minimus 10 (v1)

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The midsole employs Acteva foam to offer a lightweight and responsive underfoot platform for optimal comfort and protection. Acteva foam has the advantage of being lighter than EVA foam cushioning.

Minimus 10 v1 comes with a trail-oriented Vibram outsole which makes it ideal for trail running. The patterns on this outsole offer even better grip on rugged surfaces. Plus they contribute to the flexibility of the outsole for enhanced transitions and better foot-to-ground control.

The foot chamber uses a synthetic mesh to offer ample foot support and allow air circulation. A soft fabric is lined on the inside to minimize chafing and absorb moisture. The design of the upper ensures that your feet have adequate flexibility to prevent foot cramping.

  • Soft and responsive cushioning
  • Ideal for running, hiking, walking and casual wear
  • Durable build
  • Excellent support
  • Good flexibility
  • Runs small

4. Sockwa X8- Breathable, Barefoot/Minimal Shoe 

Do you want to realise the best of your mechanical effectiveness, strengthen your feet and ankles, as well as improve your balance?

Sockwa X8- Breathable, Barefoot/Minimal Shoe  Check On Amazon

Then Sockwa X8 running shoe is your ultimate solution. Sockwa X8 is a barefoot minimalist running shoe designed to provide you with sensory-richness and overall running experience similar to that of running barefoot.

Its thin outsole provides the most ideal ground-feel sensitivity for a safe, light and more responsive forefoot running. So if you suffer from chronic exertional compartment syndrome, this shoe will keep you from heel striking by reducing high impact loads on the shins and knees. Remarkably, this outsole offers a surprising amount of durability that outshines the outsole of most minimalist running shoes in its class!

The upper unit, though not fancy, features a non-restrictive support structure which allows proper muscular engagement throughout the foot. The upper is stretchy and flexible, so you will not experience any fitting problems. Furthermore, the flexibility in the forefoot allows your toes to wiggle freely for enhanced balance control, making it easier to avoid ankle injury during running.

Sockwa X8’s upper is made of a paper-thin, breathable Ariaprene foam that permits enough airflow to keep your feet cool in the summer.

So much for this shoe. The bottom line is, Sockwa X8 can help you maintain the ability of producing and sustaining more productive, proactive running mechanics. It will help you avoid running injuries, especially bone injuries.

  • One of the thinnest soles on the market
  • Excellent box design
  • Very light
  • Moisture wicking Ariaprene upper
  • Secure fit
  • Toe box is a bit cramped for wide feet

5. Vivobarefoot Men’s Stealth 2 Walk Shoe

Constantly running in the conventional cushion, arch-supportive running shoes ultimately results to no long-term payoff. In contrast, it deprives your feet of sensory-richness necessary for maintaining strong and healthy feet.

Vivobarefoot Men's Stealth 2 Walk Shoe

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The only sure way to maintain strong feet is by continuously and effectively engaging your feet with the ground. This, you achieve by adopting a minimalist barefoot running trend. Your feet will remain much stronger in barefoot-like footwear, like this Vivobarefoot Stealth 2 running shoe.

As a minimalist running shoe, Stealth 2 is typically designed for heel-strikers, who are very likely to suffer chronic compartment syndrome do to their characteristic heel-strike landing during running.

The outsole of stealth 2 features a 3-mm V Road rubber to provide flexible traction in both dry and wet conditions. It’s rubberized V-tread grips, further increases this shoe’s gripping ability. And with a zero-drop profile Stealth 2 will help you realise a safer, less vigorous forefoot strike landing.

The ultra-thin and puncture resistant midsole features natural sensory feedback, which engages the foot’s natural running gait as it allows the arch and toes to load, spread, and recoil. Thus, your feet naturally respond and flex in response to the forces beneath.

An additional footbed is also provided for extra cushioning and protection. But it can be removed for a better ground-feel experience.

The upper is made from a lightweight EVA cage with a thin mesh for optimum comfort and breathability. It’s structured to encourage responsive foot control and an adaptive fit for enduring long-distance running.

Generally, Vivobarefoot Stealth 2 is formulated to implement an efficient forefoot strike running style. What is more, the barefoot-like experience you will get from this shoe is what you really need for injury prevention.

  • Barefoot running sensation
  • Comfortable, flexible, and lightweight
  • Reduces heel pain due to forefoot striking
  • Adequate toe room and a more natural foot movement
  • Stylish
  • Inadequate support to the foot.
  • A little expensive

6. Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO 

The Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO is one of Vibram’s thinner, softer and lighter running shoes made for minimalist running.

The overall structure of this shoe compliments the anatomy of the foot, with each toe wrapped entirely by its fabrics and systems.

This notable construction is very remarkable in ensuring comfort and safety of its wearer, while keeping performance as lightweight and natural as possible.

Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO 

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The upper unit of KSO EVO is made of a non-restrictive, stretchy and flexible polyester that covers the foot snugly and securely. This allows your toes to engage freely for better stability and balance control.

Equally important, KSO EVO’s super thin and durable outsole promotes excellent ground-feel capability, prompting an effective and a more controlled forefoot strike landing during running. The midsole is also very flexible, meaning your feet can move naturally through the gait cycle.

To enhance comfort and make ground contact easier and smoother, a 2mm Ethylene vinyl acetate foam is used as the underfoot cushioning system of this foot-shaped shoe.

In regards to durability, KSO EVO will give you value for your money because it is made from durable materials that are tolerant to both road and trail running conditions.

  • The shoe is very light and offers great ground feel
  • The upper is very breathable and flexible
  • Good traction, stability, comfort and durability
  • Affordable price
  • The toes feel tight

7. TSLA Men’s Minimalist/Barefoot Trail Running Shoe

Another minimalist running shoe that is ideal for compartment syndrome is the Tesla running shoe which literally resembles the Vapor Gloves in many aspects. Only that Tesla’ are more affordable, flatter and feel more slipper-like.

TSLA Men's Minimalist/Barefoot Trail Running Shoe

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This barefoot-inspired shoe provides an unrestricted fit allowing your feet to engage more functionally. More importantly, Tesla’s boast of numerous positive features that make the shoe a reliable companion for achieving a perfect forefoot running style.

It’s low-to-the-ground platform and the no heel-to-toe gradient enhances a natural stride while pushing your forefoot strike in the right direction during running.

The outsole provides an underfoot feeling of a perfect minimalist running shoe. The underfoot feels natural and offers an excellent ground-feedback, helping keep your forefoot strike safely in line, while shielding your feet from harm. Besides, the sole provides robust underfoot protection for all terrain.

Tesla’s sole also features multi-flex cuts and indented grooves for a lighter, flexible and more nimble experience

The upper section is made with soft and light material that bends and flexes with shape of the foot during running. Despite the upper’s material thinness, Tesla’s are not very breathable making them ideal for cooler temperatures.

Overall, Tesla’s feel fast enough to race and are a better choice for runners with compartment syndrome as they provide a minimalist approach to running.

  • Light weight
  • Ground-feel sensitivity
  • Affordable
  • Flexible
  • Not very breathable

How to Choose the Best Running Shoes for Compartment Syndrome

With a minimalist (zero-drop) it is possible to lessen heel striking which is the most common cause of compartment syndrome. They are meant to lead the foot to forefoot or mid-foot striking so that there’ll be minimal impacts on the lower leg.

Below are some tips to help you choose the best running shoes for compartment syndrome.

1. Zero-Drop

Since compartment syndrome results for excessive heel striking, it will be beneficial to wear minimalist running shoes. They’re meant to force your feet to land touch down at the safe level rather than the heel first. As a result there’ll be minimal pounding on the heel area which in turn lessens pressure on your lower leg.

2. Flexibility

Apart from the zero-drop configurations, your typical running shoes for compartment syndrome should allow optimal flexibility. This allows your feet to bend and spread with less restriction so as to lessen strain or injuries when running.

3. Traction

Lack of secure grip in your running shoes will not only lead to sliding but it also affects how you control your movements. This in turn causes you adjust your movements thus putting you at risk of injuries. Therefore, your shoes should deliver adequate grip so that you can achieve optimal control of your movements during running.

4. Underfoot Cushioning

While you need zero-drop shoes, it’ll be important that they come with sufficient underfoot cushioning to protect your feet from hazards.

5. Breathability

A breathable running shoe keeps the inside of the shoe ventilated so that there’s effective air circulation and heat dissipation. This ensures that your feet remain cool and dry throughout your running sessions.

6. Durability

Most minimalist running shoes come with thin outsole which makes them susceptible tearing from sharp debris. So, ensure that your shoes are designed with quality materials so that they can withstand hazards.


One of the biggest problem for those suffering from compartment syndrome is their tendency to heel strike when running. Heel strike landing prompts dramatic rise in lower leg pressure, resulting in chronic lower leg pain.

However, compartment syndrome can be defeated by adopting a forefoot running style as opposed to heel strike landing. The easiest way to achieve a forefoot landing is by transitioning to forefoot running shoes.

Typically, forefoot running shoes are very minimalistic (bare-foot feeling) to allow your feet to feel as free as possible with their natural-feeling material conditions. The main feature of forefoot running shoes is their extreme light weight.

They are also have zero-drop heel and a super-thin outsole. These features are responsible for the bare-foot feeling inherent in minimalistic shoes. I firmly believe that when you choose the proper minimalist running shoes you will achieve optimal forefoot running mechanics and stay free from compartment syndrome.


1. Fuller et al. Effects of a minimalist shoe on running economy and 5-km running performance. J Sports Sci, 2016; 34:18, 1740-1745.

2. Blackman PG. A review of chronic exertional compartment syndrome in the lower leg. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000; 32:s4-s10

3. Kirby RL, McDermott AG. Anterior tibial compartment pressures during running with rearfoot and forefoot landing styles. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1983; 64:296-299

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