Do you experience calf pain when you run? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, calf pain is one of the most common running injuries. Fortunately, there are several shoes on the market that are designed to help alleviate (and prevent) this type of pain.
In this blog post, we will review some of the best running shoes for calf pain and provide tips on how to choose the right pair for you. Plus, explore why calf pain may be occurring in the first place.
The best running shoes for calf pain are the Saucony Triumph ISO because the extra cushioning helps to relieve the pressure on the calves. Good cushioning, adequate biomechanics, and strengthening glutes and hamstrings will typically reduce calves’ pain.
Top Five Running Shoes for Calf Pain: A Summary
If you are looking for a new pair of running shoes and are experiencing calf pain, we recommend trying one of the following:
- Best Overall Running Shoes (Top Choice): The Saucony Triumph ISO
- Best Budget-Friendly Running Shoe: ASICS Venture
- Best Shoes for Speed: ASICS Gel-Kayano 25
- Best for Trail Running: Salomon X-Mission 3 Trail Running Shoes
- Best for Changing Running Mechanics: Hoka One One Bondi LTR
- Bonus: Saucony Omni ISO (Best for Long Distance Running)
A Review of the Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain
Check out all of the top features, benefits, pros, and cons of each of our picks below.
#1 The Saucony Triumph ISO
- PWRRUN+: Engineered to provide a springy and responsive underfoot feel that keeps you strong and energized throughout your runs.
- FORMFIT: Conforming technology that provides optimal comfort and mechanics.
- The Saucony Triumph ISO is lighter than the average running shoe: The lightweight cushioning ensures you’ll never feel restricted in these shoes.
They have an “Iso-Fit” system that adapts to the shape of your feet, as well as a “POWERGRID+” midsole that provides extra cushioning.
- Good choice for runners with moderate to severe overpronation
- Extra midsole support and cushioning
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Snug and custom fit
- May be too bulky for some runners
What we liked
- The most cushioning available in a running shoe without affecting the weight of the shoes or running mechanics.
# 2: ASICS Venture 8 Running Shoes (Best Budget-Friendly Option)
- Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System: In the impact phase, it reduces shock and makes for a smooth transition from one stance to the next.
- Removable Sockliner: This allows for additional support from an orthotic if needed.
- Trail Specific Outsole: The rear of the boot features reversed lugs, which give you traction on both up and down slopes.
- AHAR (High Abrasion Rubber) Sole: Wider, more robust outsole design for excellent wear.
- ASICS Venture 8 are cushioned and comfortable
- Good for runners with arch issues
- Supportive for any running style
- Good value for the price
- Come in a wide range
- Not as durable as some other shoes
- Slightly heavier than other options
What we liked most
- The ASICS Venture shoes are a great value for the price. ASICS has always made dependable shoes.
# 3: ASICS Gel-Kayano 25 (Best for Speed)
- I.G.S (Impact Guidance System) Technology: ASICS dedication to designing shoes that improve the natural gait from heel-strike to toe-off.
- FlyteFoam Lyte Technology: The lightest weight midsole innovation from ASICS, which features organic nano fibers for continuous comfort.
- FlyteFoam Propel Technology: High bounce and cushioning thanks to a unique elastomer compound in the ASICS energetic foam formulation.
- DuoMax Support System: Dual-density midsole technology that provides added support and stability, designed for sport.
- Good for runners with arch, joint, or pain-related issues
- Provides a smooth ride and good energy return
- Very lightweight construction to keep you light on your feet
- Impressive shock absorption technology
- May not be as durable as some other shoes on the market
What we liked most
- The FlyteFoam midsole is one of the lightest options for runners and provides excellent cushioning
- The ASICS Gel-Kayano 25 are another great option for runners who need extra support to prevent calf pain and other injuries. The lightweight design makes speedwork more effective and less daunting as well.
#4 Salomon X-Mission 3 Trail Running Shoes (Best Trail Running Shoes)
- All-terrain: Built for long-term usage and has a lug design that works on hard and smooth, as well as soft and loose surfaces.
- Multi-use: With an all-terrain, ultra-durable grip, these running shoes are ready to tackle any terrain. Ideal for trail running, road running, and trekking.
- Well-cushioned base: Soft foam cushioning and heel height (10 mm) allow runners to absorb foot strike impact.
- Sensi-Fit laces: Allow for a quick and easy lockdown of the shoe without slippage.
- Durable for any terrain you want to tackle
- Adequate cushioning to reduce impact and strain on the calves while on uneven surfaces like dirt and rocks
- Comfortable fit
- Excellent traction
- May be too stiff for some runners
What we liked most
- The Salomon X-Mission 3 shoes are perfect for running on any terrain. The laces are also a great feature to keep the shoe snug and supportive.
#5: Hoka One One Bondi LTR (Best for Running Mechanics)
- The Hoka One One Bondi LTR has a thick midsole that provides extra cushioning and support for the foot, ankles, and calves.
- Meta-Rocker: Helps to promote a natural running stride.
- Higher heel drop (10 degrees) to promote a smooth heel transition with each stride.
- Inherent stability with flat geometric soles
- Durable rubber placement
- Some runners found the shoes to be too stiff and not as comfortable as they would have liked
- Bulkier than other choices
What we liked
- A good choice for runners who want a cushioned and supportive shoe.
#6: Saucony Omni ISO (Best for Long Distance Running)
- ISOFIT upper design: A dynamic mesh that contours to the foot for a snug and comfortable fit.
- PWRGRID+ midsole: Saucony’s signature cushioning system helps to absorb impact and provide a smooth ride.
- Tri-Flex outsole: Provides better flexibility and traction.
- Designed to provide a smooth and comfortable ride for long distances
- Snug fit that helps to prevent blisters and other foot problems
- Superior cushioning system to absorb impact, no matter how long you choose to run
- Flexible and breathable mesh upper to prevent sweating and rubbing
- Not as durable as some of the other shoes in this guide
What we like
- The Saucony Omni ISO shoes are perfect for runners who want a comfortable and flexible shoe for distances over ten miles.
What to Consider When Choosing the Right: A Buyer’s Guide
- Cushioning: One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a running shoe is cushioning. You want a shoe that will provide plenty of shock absorption and support. Look for shoes with a thick midsole.
- Fit: It is also important to choose a shoe that fits your foot correctly. Do you want a shoe that is snug or loose? Do you have wide or narrow feet? Make sure to try on a few different pairs of shoes before making your final decision.
- Height drop: Another factor to consider is the height drop of the shoe. This is the difference in height between the heel and toe of the shoe. A low-height drop shoe(less than 12 percent) will put more strain on tight calves than a higher height. If you are experiencing calf pain, try to avoid shoes that are considered ‘minimalist” with a height drop close to 0 percent.
- Arch support system: If you have low or flat feet, you may want to consider a shoe with an arch support system. This will help to keep your foot in place and prevent it from overpronating.
- Pronation support: Another important factor to consider is ankle stability. If you have a problem with overpronation, you need a shoe that will provide extra support. Look for shoes that have extra support for the inside of the foot.
- Durability and materials: When choosing a running shoe, you also want to make sure that it is durable and made from high-quality materials. You don’t want your shoes to fall apart after a few months of use. Look for shoes that have reinforced heels and toes.
- Breathability And Flexibility: You also want to make sure that your shoes are breathable and flexible. This will help to keep your feet cool and dry. Look for shoes with mesh panels on the sides.
- Lacing system: You want a shoe that will stay tight on your feet and not come loose during your run. Choose a shoe with lacing options and plenty of notches so that you can cater your lacing needs to your feet.
FAQs for Calf Pain While Running
If you’re experiencing calf pain with running, intuitively you probably know that shoes are only one part of the equation. Let’s explore other factors and common questions related to calf pain for runners.
What Causes Calf Pain In Running?
There can be many causes of calf pain while running. Some of the most common include:
- Running on hard surfaces: This can cause stress on the calf muscles and lead to pain.
- Incorrect foot strike: If you’re landing on your heel when you run, this can cause stress on the calf muscles.
- Poor flexibility: Tight calf muscles can lead to pain when running.
- Overuse: If you’re running too much, this can lead to inflammation and pain in the calf muscles.
- Foot and ankle mechanics: If you have flat feet or high arches, this can lead to calf pain. Plus, the way your entire core and lower body move together can lead to poor alignment of the foot and ankle and faulty muscle activation that strains the calf.
Should I Run With Calf Pain?
If you’re experiencing calf pain while running, it’s best to stop and take a break. Continuing to run with this type of pain can lead to further injury. At a minimum, try to modify your speed, distance, and frequency until you feel your pain is improving.
Is It Normal For Calves To Feel Tight Whilst Running?
It’s normal to feel some tightness in your calves while running. However, if the pain is severe, it’s best to stop and take a break. Tuning into your body will help you determine if the pain is from normal muscle use (aka pushing yourself) or if something is wrong and needs attention.
How Do I Stop My Calves From Hurting When I Run?
There are a few things you can do to help stop your calves from hurting when you run:
- Stretch your calf muscles before and after running
- Ice the area after running if it’s swollen or inflamed
- Use a foam roller to massage the muscles
- Take breaks from running and cross-train with other activities
- Wear the proper shoes and support devices if you have flat feet or high arches
- Pay close attention to your form and the mechanics of your foot and ankle with each stride
- See a physical therapist or doctor if the pain is severe or doesn’t go away
How Long Does A Pulled Calf Muscle Take To Heal?
A pulled calf muscle can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal properly. However, if you’re experiencing significant pain or the injury doesn’t seem to be getting better, it’s best to see a doctor for an evaluation.
Are Zero Drop Shoes Bad For Calves?
Switching to zero drop shoes changes the mechanics of your running so that you are landing on the ball of your foot rather than your heel. This can reduce impact in the knee, hips, and back, but also equals extra work and coordination for the calf. If you are prone to calf soreness and strain, this can equate to a disaster. If you have a calf strain, it’s best to avoid these shoes or ease your way into using them.
Do Compression Socks Help Calf Strains?
There is some evidence that compression socks can help with calf strains by increasing your awareness of your running form. Additionally, the theory is that compression can help to support the muscles and reduce swelling.
What Cardio Can I Do With A Strained Calf?
If you have a strained calf, it’s best to stick to low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or using the elliptical machine. These activities will still challenge your muscles and help them to recover, but they won’t aggravate the injury. As you start to feel better, you can slowly get back to activities like jogging or running.
The Right Shoe Will Keep You Running
There are several factors to consider when choosing the best running shoes for calf pain. Make sure to take into account your foot type, running habits, and level of injury before making a purchase. With the right shoes, you’ll be able to continue running without any pain or discomfort. Thanks for reading!