Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain 2021

Our top pick in the best running shoes for calf pain is ASICS GEL-Kayano 27.

Calf pain only involves a couple of muscles but when it strikes you, it will be harder to complete your running session. 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, it is important that you 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 workout. But you have to gradually increasing exercise in order to prevent the pain in the calf from becoming progressively worse.

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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 are able to adjust. Plus, your running stride needs to change from heel strike to midfoot or forefoot strike if you are 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 has the tendency 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 get rid of 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 37 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Road Running/Walking
Heel-toe Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 10.05 oz

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 37 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 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Road Running
Heel-toe Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 11 oz

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 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, which is one of the most comfortable upper materials you’ll ever have in a running shoe. Primeknit+ is a one-piece knitted fabric, which offer a sock-like fit and helps prevent friction and rubbing of skin.

– ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 –

Support Type: Neutral to Overpronation
Activity: Road Running
Heel-toe Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 9 oz

The GEL-Kayano 27 is the flagship stability running shoe of ASICS. Although it is most suitable for those who have overpronation and flat feet, it also offers an excellent support for people who seek neutral cushioning. The stabilizing features in ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 can take the pressure off the ball of the foot and help prevent knee pain.

This running shoe has a comfortable 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is gentle on your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf. This latest item 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.

Most helpful consumer review:

I was having a lot of ankle and calf pain with sneakers that had a low heel to toe pitch and these (I think) have a pitch of 13 and have helped that a ton.

– Brooks Glycerin 19 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Road Running
Heel-toe Drop: 10 mm
Weight: 9 oz

If you are looking for a softer lock-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 13. Although this shoe is more suitable for the narrow feet, while the Ghost 13 can fit a wider foot size.

Brooks Glycerin 19 has a full-length DNA LOFT technology in the midsole, which is 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 stability features is Brooks Glycerin GTS 19. This running shoe is excellent for overpronation, flat feet, and those who need stability.

– New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Road Running/Walking
Heel-toe Drop: 8 mm
Weight: 8.4 oz

The Fresh Foam 1080v11 is arguably the most comfortable neutral running shoe of New Balance. It has tons of Fresh Foam X technology, which is 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 –

Support Type: Overpronation/Stability
Activity: Road Running
Heel-toe Drop: 12 mm
Weight: 9.1 oz

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is arguably the most comfortable stability running shoe 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, which is 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, which locks the foot while allowing airflow to keep it cool and dry. It has GuideRails holistic support system, which guards your knee from 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 –

Support Type: Neutral
Activity: Road Running
Heel-toe Drop: 8 mm
Weight: 9.7 oz

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.

Final Thoughts

Calf pain is one of the culprits in 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. But if after applying proper treatment and preventive measures, you still experience pain, there must be a more serious condition that is causing it.

While the majority of the factors that cause pain in the calf require immediate medical attention, the simplest pain sometimes comes from muscle cramp, strain, and trauma. Such simple causes require simple solutions like rest, stretching the calf muscles, and avoiding workouts that are more than normal.

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.

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