Are you experiencing calf pain while running? You’re not alone. About 60% of adults experience calf muscle pain. It could be that you are wearing the wrong type of running shoes! Finding a pair of shoes that properly support and cushion your feet to help alleviate calf pain is essential.
When shopping for running shoes, be sure to pay attention to the fit and comfort of the shoes and their level of support. You may also consider purchasing shoes with a wider toe box to give your toes more room to move and stretch.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek out the advice of a professional. A knowledgeable salesperson or a physical therapist can help you find the perfect pair of running shoes to help alleviate your calf pain. We’ve reviewed some of the most popular running shoes for calf pain to help you make a more informed decision.
Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain Compared and Reviewed
1. ASICS Gel-Venture 8 Running Shoes
Reasons to buy
- Affordable option compared to others
- Durable make
- It has a super comfortable design
- It provides excellent grip on wet and muddy surfaces
Reasons to avoid
- The toebox is a bit narrow
The Gel-Venture line of shoes is the entry-level trail shoes by ASICS. Their Gel-Venture 8 comes in a clean design and has deep colors. It is one of their best makes for people suffering from calf pain. They are specially designed for those who need consistent performance for trail running daily.
ASICS Gel-Venture 8 has been updated to have a better forefoot fit than the previous model, Gel-Venture 7. It comes in a true-to-size fit. The insoles are removable in case you need to use orthotics.
Comfort is optimal with this shoe. The upper part snuggly wraps around the foot, while the upper sidewall is well-cushioned. The laces are flat, and the shoe’s lockdown cage combined with a comfy upper gives it a secure fit. On the downside, the additional cushioning makes it less breathable.
ASICS Gel-Venture 8 features a new, improved lug arrangement that gives you more grip on dirty running tracks. It has fewer overlays on the upper part. This makes it lightweight and more flexible but still durable.
In addition, the new lug arrangement beneath the heel delivers a significant level of traction. It provides an excellent grip even on wet, muddy surfaces. The outsole is durable, making the shoe a great long-term companion for your running activities.
Gel-Venture 8 comes in a narrow toebox. This makes it not ideal for people with wide feet or those that prefer plenty of wiggle room on the forefoot part.
2. ASICS Gel-Kayano 28
Reasons to buy
- Has an accommodating toebox
- Comes in a more cushioned midsole
- Delivers excellent heel support
- Has a sturdy construction
Reasons to avoid
- A more expensive option compared to others
Gel-Kayano 28 is a tremendous, consistent training shoe for people who experience calf pain and those over-pronate. It features an FF Blast midsole which is an update from the Flytefoam midsole in the previous model.
The new midsole foam creates a more propulsive and cushioned ride, so you are able to run for longer. It is also lightweight. The gel cushioning in the shoe’s heel and forefoot are effective in absorbing shock while promoting seamless transitions.
DUOMAX tech is incorporated in Kayano 28’s heel cup, providing stability on the interior and exterior sides of the shoe. This tech also includes support on the foot’s inner edge, therefore, eliminating uneven wear. Consequently, over-pronation and stress on the calf are reduced.
The insole is a 4.9 mm Ortholite insert that makes it more comfortable. Speaking of comfort, the shoe has a 14 mm padded tongue which is quite impressive given that a usual tongue measures slightly under 6 mm.
A redesigned upper with mesh makes the shoe breathable. However, the extra foam, padding on the shoe makes it plush, not optimally breathable. Even so, your feet get to experience an airier feel than with any other Gel Kayano model.
At 305 g for men and 271 g for women, this shoe is lighter than the other Gel-Venture models. New gel technology gives you a smooth ride by facilitating soft landing. A 10 mm drop in men’s and 13 mm in women Gel Kayano 28 reduces the stress on your calf muscles when running.
3. Saucony Triumph 19
Reasons to buy
- It has a soft upper part cushioning
- Delivers excellent shock absorption
- It has a plush, breathable upper
- Long-lasting outsole
Reasons to avoid
- Slightly heavy
- The laces are too stretchy
If you are shopping for a shoe that delivers excellent comfort for calf pain, then the Saucony Triumph 19 is the go-to shoe. It is a perfect choice for slower or recovery days when you go slow with running or training.
Triumph 19 comes in a PWRRUN + midsole, which is molded using expanded Polyurethane. This midsole alongside a plush inner make boosts the shoe’s performance in the long run. It is 1.9 mm blown rubber outsole is quite durable and also provides great traction.
The upper part of this shoe comes in the new FormFit mono mesh. It makes the shoe light and breathable. Saucony Triumph 19 comes in true to size fitting and accommodates wider feet.
An exciting feature is that these shoes come in two pairs, a black pair and a yellow one. The laces are pretty stretchy, which allows your feet flexibility. However, they make it challenging to tie up the shoes tightly.
A plush tongue of 9.5 mm together with flexible mesh gussets gives a superior midfoot lockdown. Reflective parts on the shoe’s heel that shine brightly are a plus if you run in the dark.
4. Nike Air Zoom Structure 22
Reasons to buy
- It has a variety of color options
- Dynamic support gives better cushioning
- It has a decent arch support
- Quite responsive
Reasons to avoid
- A bit inflexible
Nike is one of the best footwear brands today. It might be considered an everyday shoe brand but their Zoom Structure 22 changes this narrative. If you are looking for a shoe that gives excellent support even, this is one of the shoes you should consider.
For the forefoot, the shoe uses the famous Zoom Air unit that delivers responsiveness together with ideal comfort. As for the outsole, it is made of blown rubber that delivers an ideal grip for challenging terrains. The outsole also makes the shoe durable.
This Nike Air 22 uses Zoom foam when it comes to the midsole, delivering a smooth, stable and comfortable transition. The heel part of the midsole has a crash pad for shock absorption when the heel hits the ground.
Nike Air Zoom Structure 22 has a well-structured mesh on its upper part, making the shoe breathable. It also has Flywire cables that are attached to this upper part for enhanced support. An overlay at the shoe’s rear protects your foot while providing back support.
If you have the challenge of calf pain, then Nike Air Zoom Structure 22 has the friendly arch support you need. It comes in 10 varying colors.
5. Saucony Vintage 5000
Reasons to buy
- Has comfortable cushioning
- It comes in an aesthetically pleasing design
- Decent breathability
- It gives ideal support for calf problems
Reasons to avoid
- Not ideal for cold climate
- Limited color options
If you experience calf pain, then you know that comfort is a priority in the shoes you choose. But a combination of comfort and style are hard to find in most running shoes. If you are looking for a perfect blend of the two, we recommend this Saucony Shadow 5000 Vintage.
This shoe comes in a classic sneaker look, and it delivers style and comfort all in one. It can serve as a running shoe or an everyday casual shoe. Made of the EVERUN midsole, the shoe offers soft cushioning with superior flexibility. This material is also used on the shoe’s upper part, making it flexible with an extra soft feel.
A vegan-tan heel makes the shoe remain in perfect shape for longer. The outsole delivers enough grip even on harsh surfaces. The upper parts are made of knitted fabric for breathability. As such, the shoe will make an excellent choice for running.
Featuring a padded collar around the heel, Saucony Vintage 5000 is quite comfortable.
6. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Reasons to buy
- Guiderails give a supportive effect
- Secure fit
- Durable outsole
- Accommodates a variety of feet shapes
Reasons to avoid
- Not ideal for speed runs
The Guiderails technology used in this shoe is one of its most attractive features. This tech incorporated in the shoe’s midsole offers excellent smooth running support. You get a natural feel, and your foot keeps moving efficiently without interfering with your stride.
Brooks Adrenaline GT 21’s sole is referred to as the DNA LOFT Crashpad. It is smooth, consistent, and comfortable but doesn’t deliver anything extra. The sole allows the foot to make contact with the ground while causing minimal impact on your calf muscle and body in general.
The upper mesh is plush and streamlined while still fitting a variety of feet shapes. A well-padded tongue prevents lace bites of the shoes’ soft round laces. The 3D Fit Print is conveniently placed on the upper for support and securing the midfoot.
A 12 mm drop in the midsole delivers excellent long-term cushioning at both the front and back. This makes it a good choice for all runners but especially rearfoot strikers.
The heel doesn’t slip thanks to the padded collar and a rigid interior counter that keeps it locked in place. It also has to cushion on the outer part of the ankle. The lockdown is flexible, and the laces are pretty stretchy.
A running shoe that supports calf pain, is breathable and lightweight, is an excellent choice. This is what the Brooks Adrenaline GT 21 does. Although it makes a good choice for long runs and daily training, it is not the best choice for speed runs.
Factors We Considered When Choosing the Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain
Most running shoes have a certain kind of cushioning. It helps reduce soreness by minimizing the impact of your body’s weight on your heel when hitting the ground. However, cushioning is not done the same in all shoes.
We considered those with the most suitable cushioning for the shoes in this review to prevent calf pain. They are those that have plenty of padding on the heel part.
Heel side cushioning provides shock absorption to the calf muscle with every stride. Different manufacturers use different materials to provide cushioning. While some, such as ASICS, use gel, others use foam, while some use air pockets and other fabrics.
The best running shoes for calf pain should deliver consistent durability. They should be made of durable materials that will make them long-lasting. Although some might be on the higher end in terms of price point, they should deliver absolute value for money.
Outsoles are some of the key features that we considered. If the outsole is of poor quality, the shoe will tear and wear quickly and put you at the risk of calf pain. Most of the shoes we considered here as the best running shoes for calf pain are made of a mixture of durable natural and textile materials.
Traction is also vital when running. It makes a shoe not only durable but also adaptable to different weather conditions and terrains without wearing it out quickly. Durability not only protects your calf muscle but also saves you money in the long run.
Drop refers to the height difference between a shoe’s heel and the forefoot. The greater the drop, the steeper the incline between the two parts. Most running shoes come with a 12 mm drop, yet others have a 0 mm drop.
When wearing a shoe with a zero drop, your forefoot and heel are the same height from the ground. This would put more stress on both your calf and Achilles tendons.
The best running shoes for calf pain are those with a high drop. The minimum drop to go for is 10mm, as it will reduce the stress on your calf muscles.
A good running shoe will reduce as much stress as possible from your joints and foot. Arch support is a vital feature, especially if you experience calf or ankle pain. It reduces the chances of calf pain and eliminates discomfort.
Fit And Comfort
It is important to find a pair of running shoes that fit well and are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause discomfort and potentially contribute to calf pain.
Look for running shoes that offer ample support for your feet and ankles. This can help to reduce strain on your calves and prevent pain while running. When compiling the best running shoes for calf pain, other factors that we considered include the lacing system used, flexibility, breathability, and lightweightness.
Consider seeking out the advice of a salesperson at a specialty running store or a physical therapist. They can help you find a pair of running shoes that are tailored to your specific needs and can help to alleviate calf pain.
If you experience calf pain when running and are looking for the best shoes to facilitate pain-free runs, we’ve got you covered. Below, we answer the question; which are the best running shoes for calf pain?
What Factors Contribute To Calf Muscle Pain?
Wearing the wrong type of shoes
Using running shoes that do not offer enough support or cushioning can cause strain on your calves and lead to pain.
Engaging in activities that involve repetitive motions, such as running, can lead to calf pain if done in excess. It is important to listen to your body and take regular breaks to prevent overuse injuries.
Poor posture or alignment
Maintaining good posture and proper alignment while running can help to reduce strain on your calves. Poor posture or alignment can lead to calf pain.
Tight muscles in the calves can lead to pain while running. Stretching before and after exercise can help to prevent tightness and reduce the risk of calf pain.
Dehydration or electrolyte imbalances
Dehydration or imbalances in electrolytes such as sodium and potassium can lead to muscle cramps, which can cause calf pain. It is important to stay hydrated and maintain proper electrolyte levels while exercising to prevent this type of pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
If the pain is bearable, then you may consider running. However, if you experience calf pain persistently, you should see a specialist for examination to prevent the pain from worsening and avoid further injury.
Stress on calf muscles can be caused by a sudden change in running speed or running in challenging terrains. Stress leads to pain. Your choice of running shoes also plays a significant part in the level of pressure your calf is exposed to. Some shoes may not provide the necessary cushioning required to reduce the stress amount on the calf.
There are a variety of brands that make shoes specifically for calf muscle support. Ideal cushioning, high drop, durability, and arch support are some of the things to look for when choosing the best running shoe for calf pain. Depending on the intensity of pain, you may also consult a specialist.
A sudden increase in running speed or running for longer distances can lead to calf pain. In addition, a runner whose shoes do not provide ultimate support and cushioning is more exposed to this pain.
Any cushioning system that sufficiently absorbs shock is good enough. While some prefer gel cushioning, other manufacturers use air pockets. It all depends on personal choice as long as the system is effective.
Calf muscles help in keeping the body moving forward when running. Running for long periods can cause this pain. The more you run, the more the calf muscles stretch. It is crucial to avoid or reduce the stress and pain exerted on these muscles.
Choosing a good pair of running shoes that support calf pain is one of the most effective ways to manage this. Our list above presents you with a variety of shoes to choose from that are highly effective in this.
We selected these shoes based on arch support, shoe drop, superior cushioning, durability, and the ideal fit. The shoes are also selected from reputable brands. Finally, your decision will depend on your budget and personal preference.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.