Jun 11, 2021 14 min read

9 Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain in 2022 Men and Women

Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain

Choosing the best running shoes for calf pain is very important. If you choose the wrong one, it will bring you discomfort and pain and shorten your passion for running.

According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, calf injuries are among the most common injuries suffered by runners.

Tight calves can be pretty painful to deal with and, if left untreated, may cause further complications down the track like plantar fasciitis.

All of us want to have a pair of beautiful calves. It’s a sign of good health and fitness.

What are Tight Calves?

The calf is a group of muscles in the lower part of your leg. The primary muscle in the calf is the gastrocnemius. It attaches to your heel and knee. The other calf muscle, the soleus, attaches to your Achilles tendon at your heel and points along the bone of your lower leg.

The following video will enlighten you more on tight calf pain:

You need your calves for walking, running, jumping, and climbing stairs. They help stabilize you when you push off with your toes while walking or running or when you point and flex your foot during certain sports activities.

Calf Pain (calf strain), medically referred to as Achilles Tendonopathy, is a condition in which the larger muscles in the back of your lower legs-specifically, those around the outside of your calves and ankles-become injured.

It may occur without warning while exercising or even just walking, and it can make movement very difficult.

Tight Calf Pain

OveruseTenderness around the calf area
Tight calvesSwelling of the calf
Calf muscle painMuscle cramps or spasms on
the lower part of leg
Tightness in the Achilles tendonMuscle spasms in the calf muscles
DehydrationSudden sharp pains
CrampsDifficult flexing the toes
StrainsMuscle fatigue

Sometimes Calf Pain can be felt in the front part of your calf muscle as well.

What are the Causes of Calf Pain

Pain in the calf is felt in the back part of the lower leg. Let’s discuss a few causes in details:

  • Overuse can cause calf pain. A common cause of overuse is running or walking on hard surfaces or spending too much time on your feet.
  • Tight Calves also cause calf pain. They occur because of lots of sitting at work or running long distances too quickly without enough warm-ups.
  • Calf Muscle Strain This can sometimes occur from doing lots of hill work, as your calves suddenly have to work much harder to maintain your speed up hills.
  • Tightness in the Achilles Tendon can result from increasing your running volume too quickly or increasing your mileage without adequately warming up first.
  • Sudden Traumatic Injury, like a fall or blow to the leg

How to Handle Tight Calves

  • Get the Right Running Shoes

Your body will naturally react to the stress placed upon it by your running shoe, which can lead to damaged muscles and tendons in your lower leg. Getting the right running shoes will help alleviate pain caused by tight calves.

  • Stretch

Keep your calves loose by stretching them regularly. Stretch before you go running.

During your warm-up, focus on stretching your calves to help them loosen up. You can also do dynamic stretching by walking quickly in place or bending down and touching your toes.

  • Stay off the heels

If possible, avoid wearing shoes with heels because they put more pressure on your calves and make them tighter and shorter over time.

  • Hydrate

Hydration is not only vital for good health but also essential to keep your muscles and joints healthy. According to Medical News Today, dehydration is one of the causes of tight calves.

  • See a doctor

If the pain persists, consult a doctor. Call for help if you cannot walk, or are in severe pain when you move. A doctor will help you relieve pain and prescribe the best method to heal from Calf Pain.

A Review of the Best Running Shoes for Calf Pain

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 – Best Sole Unit

This shoe is among the best shoes for calf pain in the market.

If becoming a consistent and dependable trainer is what you are after, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 is the price. Besides offering good value for money, it’s also excellent for all types of short runs.

Unlike its predecessor, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 has a different upper air zoom structure. Its tongue has no padding making it a typical race-type tongue. This feature also makes the Nike Pegasus 36 a bit roomier than the previous version.

Its tongue, however, is too short and tends to slip downwards during runs.

This trainer then boasts excellent breathable mesh, courtesy of the synthetic mesh with perforations. What’s more, the mesh’s interior structure is denser in high-stress areas such as the toe edges. It also includes Flywire cables on its midfoot, which offers an excellent support system.

The best part of the Nike Pegasus 36 is the outsole. It features hard-carbon rubber that’s comparable to the most durable rubber trainers out there. It’s the same outsole as its predecessor and therefore delivers excellent grip on dry and wet terrains.

This running shoe flexes at the forefoot and snaps back quickly into place. As such, it’s ideal for tempo runs. With a slightly thinner Zoom Air unit, the Pegasus 36 achieves impressive flexibility.

2. Brooks Ghost 12 – Best Durability

The Brooks Ghost 12 is one of the most enduring trainers out there. It features in my list of the best running shoes for calf pain.

It features BioMoGo DNA foam together with Brook’s signature DNA Loft. Thanks to its heavy cushioning system, this running shoe delivers the utmost comfort.

It then comes with a 12mm heel-to-toe drop. As such, the Ghost 12 is pretty remarkable on paved and natural, smooth terrains.

About its outsole, this trainer includes a tough-blown rubber that covers most of the surface. By adding to the total weight, the rubber provides maximum grip. Despite its cushioning system and weight, this running shoe is nothing less than responsive.

With such a top-notch outsole, the Ghost 12 is highly durable. Nonetheless, it stands out as a more cost-effective option when compared to competitors.

It then has a segmented Crash-Pad mechanism on the forefoot. This helps to absorb shock and allows for a smooth toe-off with every stride.

The Brooks Ghost 12 trainer also boasts a simple style and a sock-like fit. The shoe’s construction is seamless. It optimally achieves the balance between stretch, stability, and structure. With a moderate toe box, this trainer gives you adequate space to wiggle your toes.

3. Under Armour Charged Assert 8 – Best Fit

Another shoe that falls on the list of the best running shoes for tight calves is the Under Armour Charged Assert 8.

This trainer’s design is ideal for people with a neutral foot strike. In other words, it doesn’t suit people who under-pronate.

These running shoes for calf pain include Under Armour’s Charged cushioning system throughout the center sole. Using compression molded foam, the trainer provides durability and responsiveness.

It’s also very comfortable and includes an EVA midsole sock liner which comes in handy during long runs.

These running shoes’ outsole comprises solid rubber that does not entirely cover the outsole’s bottom. Instead, it’s only present on the high-impact spots of the shoe, providing higher durability while weighing less.

The foundation is also very flexible. This is due to the deep, and shallow flex grooves present between the midfoot and forefoot.

The upper includes a lightweight mesh material. It’s a rougher mesh upper, but it’s still highly breathable. The mesh upper of this running shoe for calf pain only extends from the toe box to the middle of the foot.

Similarly, the tongue is also from a soft mesh material and has excellent ventilation.

It then features a thinly lined, comfortable material from the inside of the shoe. When you first wear the shoes, you’ll realize how soft the entire shoe is.

The rest of the shoe includes what Under Armour calls “durable leather overlays.” You wouldn’t think of leather when you feel the overlays.

It’s more of faux suede fabric, which adds to the overall aesthetic of the shoe. Outstandingly, the

Under Armour logo also features rubber material on the shoe. This is different from a screen print, as I see often.

4. Asics Gel-Venture 7 – Best Heel Counter

The Asics Gel Venture range of shoes is the company’s entry-level trail running shoe. It’s an excellent daily trainer for runners whose calf muscles are painful.

It is also ideal if you are looking for a high-performance trail running shoe, thanks to its lacing system.

Asics running shoes use a pretty aggressive tread pattern with ‘V’ forms in alternating orientations on the outsole. This maximizes forward and reverses motion grip.

Furthermore, the tread pattern rests on top of another layer of rubber. This eliminates “poke dangers,” as the outsole material blocks stick or sharp rocks. Another feature of the outsole is a yellow rubber band in the midfoot. It’s nothing new but makes the shoe more stylish in looks.

Above the outsole is a solid and robust EVA midsole. Even though it’s not as light as FlyteFoam, it still offers enough support system at a moderate weight.

This shoe also features Asics’ GEL cushioning technology. The rearfoot gel decreases shock in the rearfoot area. Like other Asics Gel shoes, the Gel-Venture is comfortable. It is also difficult to notice any particular region where a GEL cushioning patch is present.

The shoe then includes an industry-grade ORTHOLITE sock liner (insert). And below it is a layer of mild glue to keep the insert intact.

The upper begins with a feature common to all trail running shoes that aids in long-term durability. That is, a pull tab to aid in getting the shoes on and off.

A well-cushioning system and a seamless heel counter surround the heel. The foam within the shoe is dense at the top of the heel. However, down the heel, it gradually disappears.

Other than helping to retain your foot in the shoe, the foam also improves fit. Nevertheless, it adds weight and reduces ventilation.

The rest of the upper surrounding the toebox boasts excellent protection on the exterior. Thanks to multiple thick overlays and a fabric+foam upper material above the toes.

5. ASICS Gel-Excite 6 Twist – Best Budget

The Asics Gel Contend series is arguably the most popular line in the entry-level price range. It is no wonder that it features on my list of the best running shoes for calf pain.

The Gel Excite 6 running shoes offer a host of unique technology. Although this doesn’t make the shoe premium just yet, it helps it stand out.

The sole of the Excite 6 running shoe comprises AMPLIFOAM, an Asics foam compound. Thanks to this, it provides comfort, soft/plush cushioning, and flexibility.

At the same time, it keeps the shoe’s durability high and the weight low. In the heel is a Gel cushioning unit which helps to reduce the shock while landing.

These shoes have a Jacquard mesh upper fabric. It’s highly breathable to keep the foot dry and fresh at any time. Besides, it also includes n Ortholite sock liner for microbial control and extra comfort.

The Gel Excite 6 is a very appealing product from Asics. It delivers a trainer that is lighter than 10 ounces, with durable and soft foam and an excellent rearfoot Gel cushioning unit.

Its upper design may be traditional, but it’s still striking. The 8mm heel-to-toe drop is also a pleasant change from the average 10-12mm heel-to-toe drop present in most rivals.

6. New Balance 680v6 – Best Breathability

New Balance 680v6 is another of the best running shoes for tight calves.

New Balance, for some time now, is still making impressive top-quality running shoes. Luckily enough, the New Balance 680v6 is not an exception. It is a sturdy shoe ready to put in reasonable mileages with you.

The shoe boasts impeccable stability alongside a more supple and softer ride. Not only is it ideal for running but daily training and walking as well.

More importantly, the 680v6 running shoes weigh around 269.32g. They, therefore, fall under the light to medium weight category. Even so, the shoe still offers excellent cushioning and support.

The model then comes with the traditional New Balance design but with a classic look. Its midsole includes ABZORB technology, which absorbs additional shock. Wide feet people benefit from the ACTEVA material’s cushioning system and flexibility.

The upper units of the New Balance 680v6 running shoes feature over 90% engineered mesh foam. With exceptional breathability, it allows fresh air to circulate inside the chambers.

Its outsole material features new tread patterns and wide lugs. Through these, it provides superior traction on both dry and wet surfaces. Also, the descent of the decoupled heels aids in giving a comfortable landing during runs.

The blown rubber material increases the outsole’s durability for better protection and performance.

7. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V10 – Best Lightweight

The New Balance 1080 range are other excellent running shoes for runners with calf pain.

The 1080v10 running shoes feature the strong rocker shape of the trainer. Both the toe and the heel are upturned.

The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v10’s outsole features blown rubber. It is a material that provides an excellent blend of abrasion, rebound, flexibility, and resistance. As a result, it delivers excellent flexibility and grip when jogging on the road.

Furthermore, the flex grooves assist the sole in following the movement of the foot for extra comfort. Hence, as a runner, you’ll enjoy a more fluid stride. To add support to the shoe’s cushioning, this trainer includes a detachable Ortholite insole.

The midsole includes New Balance’s Fresh Foam X cushioning system. Flexible and lightweight, it aims to make runs more enjoyable and effectively absorb shocks. It then ensures maximal energy return, helping achieve energetic strides.

The mesh on the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v10 has Hypoknit technology. As a result, it creates a unique design that carefully combines support zones and stretch.

In this manner, the shoe gently envelops the foot, successfully holding it and helps to reduce any pain on the calf muscles. At the same time, it allows your foot the mobility it requires for optimal comfort when appropriate.

8. Mizuno Wave Rider 24 Waveknit – Best Responsiveness

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 is also among the best running shoes for calf pain in the market.

These running shoes are responsive and will offer you a soft ride. The Mizuno Wave Rider 24 is a neutral trainer that performs well on both long and short-distance runs.

The Wave Rider 24 running shoes are the first running shoes from Mizuno with the new ENERZY foam. Thanks to this feature, these shoes are more responsive, softer, and lighter as well. However, the midsole is not all ENERZY. It also combines the familiar wave plate and U4ic.

The shoes’ design blends both foams appropriately. As an added advantage, it also allows the shoe’s sole unit to reach full ground contact.

This running shoe for calf pain also boasts a sweet spot for padding that isn’t too much. Instead, it’s responsive enough and firm to feel excellent at quicker paces. The shoe also has a pleasant little pop upon toe-off.

The outsole of the Wave Rider 24 consists of two different types of rubber. One is carbon rubber present in the heel for added durability. On the other hand, there’s a softer blown rubber present in the forefoot for extra cushioning.

This running shoe incorporates a few more grooves, giving the shoe remarkable flexibility across the forefoot.

The traction is solid and performs admirably on some short trail runs.

Its upper features Mizuno’s engineered air mesh. Other than being dense, it has numerous slits in the outer layer that enhance breathability.

9. Saucony Triumph 18 – Best Comfort

The Saucony Triumph 18 is a typical neutral shoe that’s all about comfort. It is pretty impressive on fartleks and tempo runs but doesn’t excel at them. It is a highly cushioned running shoe. Hence, it’s ideal for slow long distances.

The heel in the previous version of Triumph 17 was a touch low on the heel counter. But after raising it a bit in the Triumph 18, it now hugs your heel. It does not irritate the

Achilles. Instead, it has that excellent, customary Saucony heel fit that is both comfortable and locked.

Without a doubt, the Triumph is Saucony’s most cushioning shoe. Saucony always includes the PWRRUN+ PU-based midsole, which provides excellent heel-to-forefoot cushioning. And there’s a lot of leeway with the toe-off.

This trainer’s flexibility, cushioning and responsiveness, will pique your interest. Any runner will love how smooth the trainer’s transition is.

The Triumph 18’s has the jacquard mesh, which is thinner and is more breathable. Being a typical warm shoe, it is a perfect trainer for cooler climates.

The Triumph 18’s outsole is similar to the Triumph 17. The only difference is, there are now two large grooves running vertically in the forefoot.

With the absence of crystal rubber, traction is excellent, and the Triumph 18 is no longer slippery on wet surfaces.

Buying Guide for the Best Running shoes for Calf Pain

To get the Best Running shoes for Calf Pain consider their fit, comfort, stability, cushioning, and flexibility. These factors will depend on your foot type and running style.

Fitting and Comfortable

The Best Running shoes for Calf Pain should provide comfort and support to your calves. Get a shoe that fits well. Avoid minimalist shoes that will create pressure points.

Before purchasing the shoes, test them on your feet for a few minutes to make sure they are comfortable.

If you have a high arch, find a shoe that is designed for arch support. Also, if you have flat feet and legs or pronate when running, choose a shoe made of firmer material to support your foot adequately.

Level of stability

The key is to find a shoe that has adequate support for your foot, ankle, and calf.

If you experience calf pain in the back of your ankle or calf, you may be able to get away with wearing a shoe that doesn’t fit perfectly around the back of your heel.

If the pain is in the front of your ankle or calf muscle, a snug fir shoe will help. The shoes should fit snugly from behind the ankle to the top.

Find out what level of stability is suitable for your foot. It’s easy to see which shoes have greater or lesser stability by looking at the sole.

Shoes with more significant support have a thicker or more closely packed midsole, while those with less stability have a thinner midsole.

The amount of cushioning

When the heel strikes the ground with each step, joints and ligaments sustain a heavy load.

Several factors determine how much shock your body takes – the shoe’s weight, the sole’s density, and the type of midsole cushioning (if any).

The amount of shock absorption you need

The amount of shock absorption you need will help you choose the Best Running shoe. Shock absorption depends on your body weight and the frequency of your running schedule.

If you start with running shoes, start with more shock absorption than you think you might need and move down from there.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Determines the Kind of Shoe to Buy for Running?

● Your foot strike pattern
When you run, your feet naturally land at an angle. This angle is called the “strike pattern.” Your running pace depends on your foot strike (also called your running pattern).

The Best Running shoes for tight calves should support and complement your strike pattern.

● Terrain
The terrain affects the cushioning of the running shoe because, on an uneven surface, you need more cushioning than you do on even terrain.

For example, someone who runs marathons may run over a variety of terrains, and so they would want a running shoe that provides good support for their feet regardless of the terrain.

If you run primarily on trails, gravel, or in soft sand, choose a trail running shoe or a road-to-trail model with aggressive treads that’ll keep your footing secure.

Should I Run if my Calf Hurts?

When you run, your calf muscles work hard to provide the powerful motion needed to propel you down the street.

The harder you push yourself during a run, the more potential there is for injury —including more pain in your calf muscles.

It is advisable to take a few days and rest if your calf hurts to avoid further injury.
Stretching will help relieve the pain accelerate the healing process.

Assess the terrain, stability, and cushioning of your current shoe. Use the right running shoes to get rid of calf pain.

When should I be concerned about Calf Pain?

You should be concerned if the calf pain involves a deep cut, exposed tendon, or a red swelling around the calf. Call for emergency help.


Runners experiencing sore calves need to choose their shoes carefully. Thye should go for a supportive shoe, that is also lightweight.

The shoe should also have a highly cushioned midsole for comfort. Sore calves should not hinder you from pursuing your dream.

In this article, we have reviewed for you some of the best running shoes for calf pain in the market.

Check our Article: Effective Ways for Running in Calf Pain.

Why not get one for yourself today!

I am a middle-aged runner with aspirations of qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2022.

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