Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain

You need to be aware of some important characteristics a shoe should offer when shopping for the best running shoes for calf pain. The four main elements you need to help ease and even prevent further calf pain are as follows:

  •   Correct drop for your foot shape
  •  Proper cushion and padding to spread out concussion
  •  Proper sole design for your gait style
  •  Correct upper support to prevent your foot from slipping inside the shoe

The most significant point from that list is the arch in your foot. This is the foundation for the build of any running shoe, and you will need to be sure that you do not select an arch support style that does not match your feet. Once you have this, the drop from the heel to the toe of the shoe can be the next biggest determining factor for your comfort.

Very flat feet will perform their best in a shoe with a minimal drop that offers the proper sole support for a level stride without overpronation. For people with high arches, correct internal arch support and a zero-drop design can help prevent calf pain. There is an additional group of people who don’t fall into either end of the spectrum who just need well-crafted shoes that will cushion their feet from the concussion that can lead to calf pain over the long run.

A combination of proper training, correct pre-run stretching, and the right supportive shoes can make all the difference in your comfort when you are running. Make sure that you are attending to all of these needs when you are training, and you will be able to stave off calf pain with ease.

PRODUCT REVIEWS

Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain

Picking the correct running shoes can make all the difference when suffering from calf pain. You will want to make sure that your running shoes will support your calves so that cramps and pain are not a part of your daily training routine. These shoes will take care of calves to make sure that you are comfortable every day while you are running.

MEN’s Running Shoes

#1  ASICS Men’s Gel-Venture 8

Best running shoes for calf pain - ASICS Men’s Gel-Venture 8 Running Shoes organge

This quality shoe was released on April 1, 2021, and was made by Asics. It has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon from those who have purchased it. This shoe offers a blend of stable sole support and GEL technology that will keep your heels from getting sore and leading to calf pain. This is one of the best shoes on the market for foot and calf pain due to the shock-absorbing nature of the sole.

The durable and supportive upper on this shoe will not allow your ankle to rotate too much, and this is a great shoe choice for narrow heels. The well-crafted bottom layer of the sole will hold onto slippery and wet surfaces with ease. It can be trusted to prevent you from stumbling or losing your footing when the going gets tough. This is a great shoe choice for keeping your feet level through each stride.

Shoes designed in this way will mold to your foot and keep your stride stable while also allowing the proper flexion along the length of the shoe during each stride. This shoe will not impinge on flatter feet, but that might not offer enough arch support for those with really high arches. Asics shoes are engineered to be like cross-training shoes that provide the best of trail running shoes and athletic shoes. This makes them more rugged and more likely to handle harsh weather and rough terrain. While you might not need to have access to these benefits, you will gain from having the support of these added design features in your running shoe.

While this might not be the most lightweight or the most foot-conforming option on the list, this is a perfect shoe for your calf pain management. This shoe will keep your foot level throughout each stride you take and prevent heel strike concussion from impacting your running plans long term. This is the right shoe for your calf pain management needs for people who have flatter feet.

PROS

  • ✅    Trail/athletic shoe hybrid
  • ✅    Great for flatter feet
  • ✅    GEL technology prevents concussive force from leading to calf pain

 

CONS

  • X    Sizing can run a little small
  • X    Toebox might be too narrow for some people
  • X    Not as lightweight as some other running shoes

ASICS Men’s Gel-Venture 8

For Prices & Customer Reviews

#2   Adidas Men’s Ultraboost 21

best running shoes for calf pain - Adidas Men’s Ultraboost 21 Running Shoes orange

This shoe was released on January 6, 2021, and it has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Amazon. This shoe comes in many colors and styles and is offered in a full range of sizes up to 13.5. These shoes lace just like a regular running shoe, but the position of the front closure is narrower and more confined to the top of the foot.

This is an excellent shoe for those with higher arches, and the sock-like fit that the upper offers are comfortable. Adidas makes the uppers on this shoe style from a very breathable and lightweight material called Primeknit. This product is very supportive without being stiff and offers the right blend of lightweight tension and softness that you need. The midsole boost support gives you a responsive feel, yet you will not be able to twist or flex your foot outside of a level flight path when you wear this supportive shoe.

This is a shoe that is made to offer energetic support that will not create a flat or heavy feel to your running stride. The angle of the sole support is perfect for maintaining the proper drop between heel and toes. The continental rubber base of the sole of this shoe offers good traction without being heavy on your feet. This is definitely a running shoe and not a trail shoe that can be an excellent fit for people running many miles on level ground each day.

This is likely not the right choice for people with very flat feet. If your calf pain is related to an issue with the heel drop in the sole of your running shoes, this shoe might also not be the right kind of supportive item for your stride. This is likely a set of considerations that will not impact most of the people who are runners. Still, it can be a factor for those with very flat feet or tend to have pain at the ball of the foot.

PROS

  • ✅    Primeknit upper is soft yet supportive
  • ✅    Great for high arches
  • ✅    Really excellent zero-drop design

 

CONS

  • X    Might not support very flat feet correctly
  • X    Can cause issues for those prone to pain at the balls of the feet
  • X    Might be too lightweight for those who run trails

Adidas Men’s Ultraboost 21

For Prices & Customer Reviews

#3   Joomra Men’s Lightweight Athletic Sneakers

best running shoes for calf pain - Joomra Men’s Lightweight Athletic Sneakers white

This shoe is made by Joomra and was released on April 29, 2020. It has a rating of 4.4 on Amazon and comes in many bright colors. This shoe is made to offer the ultimate lightweight feel without sacrificing the durability or the protection of your foot. The sole is made for extra resilience without impacting flexibility, so you can take a full stride without struggle as you run.

The unique patch sewn into the laces part of the shoe prevents tearing, which can impact fit in other lightweight shoes. The woven fabric of the upper prevents friction and helps with issues related to blisters and rubbing. The heel drop design of this shoe is very low, which makes it a great choice for very flat feet. The density of the foam midsole is made to keep your foot level without forcing it to hold a particular shape as you run.

Having access to the same design features as a glove-like running shoe or a toe shoe is a significant benefit to choosing this running shoe for your needs. You will get all the best parts of an extremely lightweight shoe with added sole support to prevent overpronation that can lead to calf pain and shin splints. The rubber sole of this shoe is specially designed to spread out the weight of each stride so that your calves will be able to do their job just as well as your feet.

For those who have struggled with calf pain but do not want to run in a heavier shoe with more built-in support, this shoe offers the right balance of glove-like flexibility and correct footbed structure. This is also a great shoe to choose if you are prone to plantar fasciitis and heel-strike pain related to shoes that lack the proper arch support.

This shoe is minimal in many ways, but it is not minimal in its design and features. You will get a custom fit from this shoe almost right away, and you will be much more comfortable every day as you exercise because of this.

PROS

  • ✅    Custom-fit design
  • ✅    Lightweight and zero drop
  • ✅    Durable and supple

 

CONS

  • X    Might not offer enough arch support for high arches
  • X    Heel support can be a little stiff for some people
  • X    Can take a few runs to break in fully

Joomra Men’s Lightweight Athletic Sneakers

For Prices & Customer Reviews

WOMEN’s Running Shoes

#1   Brooks Women’s Adrenaline

Best running shoes for calf pain - Brooks Women’s Adrenaline

This shoe is a great choice to manage your calf pain, and you will love that it comes in so many fun colors and designs. Brooks first released this shoe in April of 2020, and it comes in a full range of sizes. You will enjoy a lightweight feel from this shoe as your run, and your feet will enjoy a responsive fit from both the upper and the sole.

Supportive shoes often include too much arch support for flatter feet, but this shoe is made to offer your foot reliable support as well as a comfortable neutral balance. This will prevent injury to your calves, and the soft and flexible inner sole will help with heel strike pain as well. These shoes will not constrict your foot but will still provide all the proper support to keep your foot level and comfortable through each stride you take.

The holistic support system inside this shoe helps manage knee pain as well as calf pain, and the fully-balanced stride that you can achieve with these shoes is really amazing at this price point. You will feel like you have purchased custom running shoes but for a fraction of the cost. This is a shoe that was made just for stability and support, and the GuideRails support system will keep your feet from being injured while also supporting your knees and your calves.

Brooks is a household name in running gear for a reason, and this is an excellent pair of shoes that will upgrade your running from basic to comfortable.

PROS

  • ✅    Holistic support that offers superior comfort
  • ✅    Great arch support and durable inner sole
  • ✅    Comfortable and structured shoe that is still lightweight
  • ✅    Comes in many colors and different designs
  • ✅    Durable

 

CONS

  • X    Might not offer enough arch support for very high arches
  • X    Might be a bit too structured for some needs
  • X    Some other runners have complained about the shoelace holes being easy to tear

Brooks Women’s Adrenaline

For Prices & Customer Reviews

#2   New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Arishi V2

Best running shoes for calf pain - New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Arishi V2

If you are looking for a comfortable foam feel and a lightweight shoe with a reduced drop, this is a great choice. This shoe comes in many colors and a full range of sizes. It was released in March of 20018 and is made by New Balance. New Balance is known for its really durable and well-made shoes that stand up to tough use with ease. These are shoes that can be used in the gym on a treadmill with ease or for running on roads. This shoe might not offer enough support for trail running, but it will be perfect for all other running conditions.

This shoe will give you excellent ankle support, which can be key to preventing pronation or other gait issues that might lead to calf pain. The laces on this shoe also help with stability, so you will be able to be sure that your foot will not slide forward or backward as you run. The fit for this shoe is second-to-none, and you will love that the synthetic uppers will conform to your feet with ease.

If you like a natural feel in your shoe but do not want to switch to a toe shoe or a very lightweight shoe, this is a great choice. The level sole will help people with flat feet to run with enough support and comfort, and the zero drop is great for gait management and protection from pain at the ball of the foot. You will feel like this shoe was made for you as soon as you take it out of the box, and being able to get right to training can be a big benefit of picking this shoe for your needs.

PROS

  • ✅    Great collar support
  • ✅    Durable inner foam support structure
  • ✅    Reduced drop, which is great for flatter feet
  • ✅    Side to side support that is durable and will prevent gait issues and foot strike discomfort

 

CONS

  • X    Uppers might be a bit snug for those with wide feet
  • X    Some people complain about the included laces being too short
  • X    Not a shoe that is sturdy enough for trail running

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi V2

For Prices & Customer Reviews

#3   ASICS Women’s Gel Kayano Shoe

Best running shoes for calf pain - ASICS Women’s Gel Kayano Shoe

This is a very nice shoe that offers a sturdy rubber sole and a well-engineered mesh that will glove to your foot comfortably for solid support. This shoe was released in May of 2020, and it was made by Asics. This is a reliable brand that creates shoes that hold up to the test of time and that are made specifically for runners.

If you have gait issues, this is the perfect shoe for your needs. The heel drop will support a correct stride, and you will not be able to rotate your foot away from a level foot strike pattern. The heel support system inside this shoe is made with GEL technology that creates the perfect cushioning system for your needs. Heel strike pain is a thing of the past with this shoe, and the full shock absorption material and design of this shoe will keep your feet feeling great no matter how many miles you run each day.

There are few shoes that are made to create this much control over your foot position and stride, and if you have trouble with calf pain or knee pain, you will finally be able to run pain-free. Keeping your foot stable is critical when you have gait issues, and this shoe will take on the challenge of correctly aligning your foot without making you feel like you are locked in place too aggressively.

This shoe can take on the trail as well as the road, and you will love that the breathable upper is still water-resistant. There are a few conditions that this shoe cannot handle, and you will get lots of comfortable use from this shoe without issue. This shoe is made to hold up to the toughest of conditions without complaint, and you will love that you can trust it to support your foot perfectly without restrictions.

PROS

  • ✅    Heel support with gel cushioning to guide the foot into correct flight and strike paths
  • ✅    Creates stable and comfortable gait support that will not allow for gait struggles
  • ✅    External heel counter that helps the foot be level and in the correct position throughout all planes as you run
  • ✅    Comfortable and durable upper that is water-resistant

 

CONS

  • X    Might be a little narrow for those with wide feet
  • X    Some people report that the lace area can remain tight even after breaking in the shoe
  • X    Upper might be too supportive for some running needs

ASICS Women’s Gel Kayano Shoe

For Prices & Customer Reviews

IMPORTANT FEATURES

Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain

Having a quality pair of running shoes that offers the right amount of cushion, arch support, heel drop, and width or narrowness can make a huge difference in your running.

Your running shoe should protect your foot and cradle the sole for a proper stride and foot placement as you run. Caring for your calves is directly tied to caring for your feet, and having the right running shoes can make your calves feel great during every run.

1. Cushioned & Shock Absorbing

Your running shoes need to provide the proper support for your feet, and the right cushioning can make a significant impact on your calf’s comfort. Feet that are not supported against concussion during the heel strike portion of your stride can lead to calf pain. The shock absorption offered by your running shoe is most important at the heel because the most concussive part of each stride happens at this moment.

When your heels are not adequately supported and protected from shock, this can lead to cramps and radiating pain in your calves. Some runners whose feet absorb too much shock with each stride will adjust their steps to avoid running on their heels without realizing it. This imbalance can also lead to overload in the calf that can bring on cramps.

Injuries to both the heel and the calf are common when running in a shoe that does not offer enough cushioning for your comfort. You should be sure that you are not forcing your running style to work with a barefoot-style shoe or something like a toe shoe. Calf pain is a good indicator that your shoes need some more cushion.

2. Drop Ratio Based On Your Foot Type

Running shoes are made with varying degrees of heel drop. This is to support and facilitate your running stride. Most running shoes will offer about 12 mm of drop, but different shoe designs for those with different needs.

If you have very flat feet, you might need to pick a shoe that has a more minimal drop, like a zero drop. Different shapes of feet need different amounts of drop to be correctly supported. When you are running in a shoe that offers too little or too much drop for your running style and your anatomy, calf injuries can ensue.

Calf pain related to incorrect drop ratio can be pretty extreme, but it is sometimes hard to remember that this part of your running shoe could be the culprit behind your pain. Just because a shoe is made for running does not mean that the associated heel drop is suitable for your needs.

3. Arch Support Based On Your Gait

Like the heel drop ratio, the arch support built into your shoes has a lot to do with the comfort of your calves. People with very flat feet will need shoes with minimal arch support, while those with high arches will need much more support in the arch of their running shoes.

When running without the proper arch support, your feet might not land in a level manner during each stride. Pronation, rolling the foot inward too much, or supination, which is rolling the foot outward too much, can both be caused by incorrect arch support in your shoes. When your gait is not level, you can be prone to shin splints, calf pain, and knee and back pain.

Ensuring that the arch supports in your shoes are correct for your needs can directly and decisive impact your calf pain problems. Calf pain is often related to overloading or stressing the muscle, and incorrect gait can cause this issue almost immediately.

4. Enough Heel or Toe Box Size

It can be easy to run in shoes that do not fit your heel or toes correctly because running shoes lace-up. It can be easy to lace your shoes up very tightly to avoid issues with your feet sliding around in your shoes due to poor fit. However, this will not work long-term since your toes might overlap in shoes that are not holding your heels in place correctly.

People with narrow heels sometimes do not realize how much pressure is placed on their calves when running without the proper heel support. This is also true of people with very wide feet who are not aware that the toe box of their shoe does not allow their toes to spread correctly.

When your foot is constricted in any way, your calf will be constricted too. The muscles farther up your leg depending on your foot’s healthy and correct flexion during each stride. This is why you need to be aware that your feet might be getting squeezed too tightly at the toes, or they might be slipping around at the heel.

Balanced strides are essential to foot and calf health, and you need to make sure that your heels and your toes have the room they need in your running shoes and that they are supported with the right shoe design for your foot shape. You cannot fix a shoe that is not narrow enough by lacing it too tightly, and you cannot make a shoe wider by trying to ignore that your toes are being pressed together.

Frequently Asked Questions About
The Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain

When I was putting this review together, I spoke with other runners looking for the best running shoes for calf pain and they all had a handful of common questions. So, just in case you happen to be thinking the same, I have shared some advice below. 

1. Can I Run With Calf Strain?

This mainly depends on the severity of the calf strain. You should avoid running if you have moderate to severe calf strains because your muscle may already be fully stretched or torn, and so does the blood vessels that service the muscle.

If you run during this phase, you will typically experience more pain. Besides, overusing a strained calf can result in more pain, bleeding, and severe damage to the muscle. And there is a risk of prolonged recovery and re-injury if not appropriately managed.

Eventually, you should be able to get back on your feet. However, the amount of time you need to heal depends on the severity of the strain, your constitution, age, and overall health.

More importantly, if you are experiencing a severe calf strain, you should be assessed by a health care professional to rule out any serious complications. Do you want to learn more about whether you could run with a calf strain? Click on this page.

2. Why Do My Calf Muscles Get Tight When I Run?

There are a handful of common reasons why calf muscles get tight when you run, but if left ignored, it can cause further issues. Calf tightness refers to the stiffness in the two major muscles that make up the calf: the soleus and gastrocnemius. Since these muscles are essential to the movement, a tight muscle calf can affect other areas of the body when you run. Subsequently, the function of the foot, ankle, and knee may be affected by the calf muscle tightness.

One of the main reasons you may experience calf tightness when you run is the overload of these muscles. Other causes of calf tightness when running include Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS), wrong footwear, running form, and foot structure. Click here to learn more about why your calf muscle gets tight when running.

3. Can Bad Running Shoes Cause Calf Pain?

It has to be said that there are many reasons why calf pain occurs during or after a run, so it may not just be down to your running shoes.

However, it is true that in most cases bad running shoes can cause calf pain – especially if the pain wasn’t there in the first place. Running shoes can affect the way you run, cause subtle in balances that you may not notice at first. But over a period of time they can build up and start to put strain on your calf muscles.

Shoes aside, do remember that weaknesses in other areas of your legs and body can also cause in balances or restrictions with your running technique. So even though the pain appeared after running, the root cause could be something else.

In every instance, if the pain is uncomfortable and worrying then I would recommend booking in with either your doctor or a physiotherapist so they can take a closer look.

4. How Do I Avoid Calf Pain When Running?

Calf pain when running can be related to many different factors. The best supportive care for calf pain often involves various kinds of support. To avoid calf pain when running, you will want to use all of these tips to isolate the right supportive care plan for you. Getting the right running shoes and making sure that you stretch and warm-up before each run can make a big difference for many runners. If these two solutions do not entirely resolve the issue, Kinesio tape and gait adjustments will often resolve the issue.

It can be impossible to run through calf pain, and you should not ignore your body’s warning signs that something is not right about your gait, your shoes, or your preparation for your run. Taking the time to resolve calf pain will make each run more enjoyable. It will also prevent injuries that could have been avoided.

5. Are Calf Sleeves Good For Running?

When you have been trying to run through calf pain and cramps and are not having any luck, you need to consider using a calf sleeve for your running pain management. Calf pain can be debilitating when you are training, and you are probably open to trying new management techniques to try and deal with your pain effectively. A calf sleeve can be a very effective for running, and you might find that this is the only management solution you need for your calf pain.

Calf pain can derail any training plan, and if you are not dealing with an injury but are still struggling with calf pain, you need to look into using a calf sleeve to help you stay on track and manage your pain. A calf sleeve can be a simple solution that can deliver significant results for your training needs every time you run.

6. How To Build Your Calf Strength

Calf strength is essential for running performance and injury prevention. Building your calf strength should be a critical part of your overall running training plan.

Training your calves is as essential as stretching and using the correct running shoes. You can do bodyweight exercises at home to deliver significant improvements in your calf strength. You do not have to go to the gym to take care of this need, and a wall and some stairs will offer you the training environment you need to take care of your calf strength.

Preparing your body to handle the strain and challenges of running training starts with making sure your calves are strong and able to hold up to your demands.

7. How to Stretch Your Calf Muscles Ready for Running.

Stretching your calves before you run is critical to the quality of your run. You will be much less likely to injure yourself when you stretch before you go running, and you will enjoy better performance and more comfortable strides as you train when you take the time to prepare your muscles.

All of these stretches can be used to increase your comfort and performance, and you can choose to add these exercises to your post-run routine as well.

Make sure that you do not force your stretches and take the time to stretch the muscles out, and use explosive movements to contract the muscles. The best calf stretches are done gently, utilizing a step to press the heel down to elongate the calf muscle. Use stretches like downward dog and calf raises to help increase flexibility and provide a gentle warm-up for your calf muscles. 

8. How Do I Get Rid of Calf Cramps After Running?

Calf cramps are usually caused by diet issues or a problem with your training plan or hydration schedule when recovering from a run. If you are looking for ways to get rid of calf cramps after you run, you need to be sure that you are eating enough of the right foods that offer potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium to your body. You will also want to make sure that you are hydrating and that your body is getting enough electrolytes to help uptake water and stave off cramps.

Massage and foam rolling can help loosen up adhesions and prevent muscle injury post-run. You will likely experience an added benefit through improved range of motion and flexibility from using these techniques to care for your calves. Caring for your calf health to prevent cramps after a run is easy when you balance your diet, stretch and warm up properly, and hydrate correctly during and after your workout.

 

Written by Susan

I'm very enthusiastic around sports, fitness and general wellbeing. I write for a range of sites around these topics, and I hope you find my articles and information insightful to help you on your way.

December 5, 2021

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