Calf pain only involves a couple of muscles, but it will be harder to complete your running session when it strikes you. This pain in the lower leg is one of the reasons why new runners won’t enjoy running. But the pain in the calf area may also indicate a more severe condition.
While good preparations before running, such as stretching the calf muscles and making sure you are properly hydrated, can help prevent calf pain, if you already have swelling and numbness in the calf and leg, you must visit your doctor before resuming exercise.
If you have tight calves, it’s a must that you perform R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) after a workout. But you have to gradually increase exercise to prevent the pain in the calf from becoming progressively worse.
Table of Contents
- Running Shoe Drop Matters
- What are the Best Running Shoes for Tight Calves?
- Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain
- Final Thoughts
Running Shoe Drop Matters
There are accounts of runners who have experienced calf pain when running after shifting from high drop shoes to mid or low drop shoes (i.e., below 8 mm differential) because a lower heel-to-toe drop will require more calf flexibility and ankle mobility.
To solve this issue, you must go through a transition period shifting down to a lower drop shoe. So gradually lower the shoe differential by a couple of millimeters at a time and reduce your mileage until your Achilles and calves can adjust. Plus, your running stride needs to change from heel strike to midfoot or forefoot strike using lower drop shoes.
But why would some runners prefer zero to mid-drop shoes? You may ask. The answer is in their running stride. Because if you are a midfoot or forefoot striker, your feet will feel good wearing the shoes with offsets below 8 mm. Plus, the lower the shoe differential is, the more comfortable it will be for your knee and hip.
What are the Best Running Shoes for Tight Calves?
In general, a high drop running shoe (8-14 mm) is gentle on your calf because the shoe with a high heel-to-toe drop moves your body forward after foot landing taking the weight off your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf.
But the force has to go somewhere (i.e., to the knee and hip). This is something to consider if you wear a high drop shoe because it tends to pressure your knee and hip. But there is a solution to that – a running shoe with stabilizing features – which can align the foot, prevent excess movement in the foot, and help eliminate pain in the knee and hip.
Moreover, wearing your most comfortable shoe is one of the key solutions when you suffer pain while running.
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Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain
Here are the most comfortable running shoes for tight calves:
– Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 –
The Peg 37 is one of the best running shoes of Nike. Aside from its Zoom Air technology, which can help you run faster and effortless, this running shoe is engineered specifically to provide remarkable cushioning and shock absorption.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 has a comfortable heel-to-toe drop of 10 mm, which is the go-to drop in running shoes. This shoe combines Nike’s Zoom Air and React technologies. Zoom Air tunes it for speed, while React gives you the ultimate comfort, support, and stability.
Another excellent option to get rid of pain in your calf is Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2, the running shoe with a mission to reduce running-related injuries. It has tons of React technology.
– Adidas Ultraboost 21 –
The Ultraboost is the flagship and most comfortable running shoe of Adidas. Because it has the best technologies, Adidas has to offer. This athletic shoe has a comfortable 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is the go-to drop in running shoes.
Adidas Ultraboost 21 now has a 25% more boost cushion than its predecessor but is only 0.8 oz heavier. The boost technology has tons of energy return, which makes running effortless.
This latest item of the Ultraboost uses a Primeknit+ upper, one of the most comfortable upper materials you’ll ever have in a running shoe. Primeknit+ is a one-piece knitted fabric, which offers a sock-like fit and helps prevent friction and rubbing of the skin.
– ASICS GEL-Kayano 28 –
The GEL-Kayano 28 is the flagship stability running shoe of ASICS. Although it is most suitable for those who have overpronation and flat feet, it also offers excellent support for people who seek neutral cushioning. In fact, this new model feels softer and more flexible than its predecessor.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 28 has a comfortable 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is gentle on your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf. This new model of the GEL-Kayano has Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL technology, which reduces impact during the heel strike and toe-off phases and prepares your foot for a smooth transition. It has a new FLYTEFOAM technology, a midsole foam cushion designed to deliver more cushioning on an extremely lightweight material.
– Brooks Glycerin 19 –
If you are looking for a softer locked-in fit in a running shoe, the Glycerin 19 is your best option in the Brooks brand. In fact, Brooks Glycerin 19 is more plushy than Brooks Ghost 14. However, this shoe is more suitable for narrow feet, while the Ghost 14 can fit a wider foot.
Brooks Glycerin 19 has a full-length DNA LOFT technology in the midsole, Brooks’ softest-ever cushioning. DNA LOFT offers a super smooth transition, responsiveness, and durability. This latest item of the Glycerin continues to use a mesh upper and a plush lining.
Note: The Glycerin model with support features is Brooks Glycerin GTS 19. This running shoe has a GuideRails system that reduces excess movement of the foot that can cause the lower limb to be misaligned.
– New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 –
The Fresh Foam 1080v11 is arguably the most comfortable neutral running shoe of New Balance. It has tons of Fresh Foam X technology, a modern version of the EVA midsole designed to improve energy return and make running super effortless.
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 has a luxurious knit upper with soft lining inside and a premium rubber outsole, which offers a smooth transition from heel strike through toe-off. This running shoe has an 8 mm drop, which is the highest differential in mid-drop running shoes.
Note: The 8 mm drop will have the right balance if you don’t want to put too much load on your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf, as well as knee and hip.
– Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 –
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is one of the most comfortable support running shoes available today. The models of Adrenaline GTS have been Brooks’ go-to shoes since 1999. And every time Brooks introduces a new model, it becomes an instant favorite.
This running shoe has a full-length DNA LOFT technology in the midsole, Brooks’ softest-ever cushioning. DNA LOFT offers a super smooth transition, responsiveness, and durability. It has a new soft and secure engineered air mesh upper, locking the foot while allowing airflow to keep it cool and dry. It has GuideRails holistic support system, which guards your knee against pain and injury by preventing excess movement in the foot.
Most helpful consumer review:
Standing on my feet for 12 shifts left me with awful back pain and calf cramps. These have changed the game. They have great support and are so comfortable.
– Saucony Triumph 18 –
The Triumph 18 is arguably the most comfortable neutral running shoe of Saucony. It doesn’t only help care for your calf; it is also a preferred running shoe for people who have shin splints.
Saucony Triumph 18 has a PWRRUN+ midsole, an award-winning cushioning technology designed to be more lightweight, offers softer landings, and absorbs more impact. This running shoe has a FORMFIT system, a three-layer cushioning underfoot designed to deliver a custom fit that is unique to you.
Calf pain is one of the culprits in your running, so you need to apply extra care for your lower leg before, during, and after running. Having a comfortable running shoe is just one solution for relieving pain in the calf area. If you still experience pain after applying proper treatment and preventive measures, there must be a more serious condition that is causing it.
While most of the factors that cause pain in the calf require immediate medical attention, the simplest pain sometimes comes from muscle cramps, strain, and trauma. Such simple causes require simple solutions like rest, stretching the calf muscles, and avoiding more than normal workouts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I run with tight calves?
No, because you’ll have your calves sore after running. While problems in the calf muscles are caused by common factors such as lack of stretching and poor body hydration, the pain sometimes indicates a more severe condition.