Can Bad Running Shoes Cause Calf Pain?

Calf pain due to running could result from many things – from muscle imbalance to an oncoming injury. While you may be thinking the worse, it could also happen simply due to running in the wrong pair of shoes.

According to American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, wearing the wrong type of running shoes for calf pain is one of the most common causes of feet and ankle problems in runners and athletes.

Your arch compresses as your foot lands to absorb the shock when running. Suppose a pair of lousy running shoes make your arch landing improperly. In that case, the impact from the ground will be redistributed among your calf, which can cause calf pain. Over time, this action can cause micro-fractures in the bones of your shin and ankle, and your calf muscle can tear excessively.


Can Bad Running Shoes Cause Calf Pain?

Here are some reasons why and how bad running shoes can cause calf pain. These explanations may also help you understand the root of some of your pains, and if it’s a different reason that may be causing the trouble.

Sharp pain

If you are running with a new pair of shoes for the first time, this can cause you a sharp pain that runs from the foot to the calf’s midway. This usually occurs if your new shoes have huge variations compared to your old shoes. For instance, if your old running shoes have firm cushioning when you purchase a new shoe with different heel-to-toe drop and softer rides, it may take time for your calf muscles to adjust to the cushioning to give you stability under your feet.

A heel-to-toe drop inflicts a significant effect on the running gait. So, if you get a new running shoe that features different heel drops, this would affect the loading demands of your calf muscle and may cause calf pain in the beginning.

Stress Fractures

Wrong running shoes can cause a stress fracture either on the foot or in the ankle. Its symptoms include mild pain in the calf that gradually worsens and arises due to the stress endured by the feet due to wrong running shoes. A bouncier running shoe is one of the major culprits. The bouncier a running shoe is, the more difficult it will be to bend your ankles as you should since your running shoe is already doing it for you. Studies have shown that runners with more cushioned running shoes had firmer legs, limiting their ability to run naturally and correctly, thus causing calf pain.

Besides, the more cushion your running shoe has, the harder it is to feel the placement of your shoe on the pavement. When you find it difficult to judge where your foot lands, you may land on the wrong part of your foot. You may also be landing incorrectly. Although when you add a cushion to your shoe, it may help you take the edge off during long-distance running, this may be cloaking some running form that may lead to calf pain.

Shin Splints

You may have probably experienced shin splints before. Plantar fasciitis is reoccurring, and your ankles are also paining you. And instead of heading to a physical therapist or orthopedic physician to figure out the problem, you decide to go to a running shoe store where a self-acclaimed foot expert puts you through tests and concludes that the answer to your problem is a supportive running shoe.

So, you purchase a supportive show, and the problem gets worse. That is because a supportive show is not always the answer. In addition, a shoe that is too supportive means a stiff shoe. Stiffness means you may not be able to control your gait. The deficiency of gait control can cause you more problems than just shin splints. It could lead to calf pain. 


One of the most common issues runners have is overpronation. After running for a while, you may notice a particular wear pattern on your running shoes. If the heel part of your shoe is worn down, your foot is leaning outside or inside. This is a sign of overpronation. Generally, a weak arch tends to make runners overpronate when they run. If their running shoes are not designed for overpronation, they tend to have problems with their joints and muscles. This occurrence may be why your running shoe is causing you calf pain.


The next article will look deeper at how to avoid calf pain when running. It’s not just about the running shoes, it’s also down to some very basic routines that we all, very often, overlook and skip.

Written by Mark

Having researched and advised on hundreds of footwear products, I'm confident you'll find my articles insightful to the most common questions that's currently being asked online.

February 19, 2022

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