General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Heel Drop and Calf Pain Rss Feed  
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2013-08-09 1:34 PM

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Subject: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
With all the variation in the amount of heel drop you can find in shoes now, it has made me wonder if there is a particular range that may be helpful in alleviating some of my calf problems. I'm bounced all around in types of shoes and never really considered that the heel drop was that big of a deal until I started looking at that spec on the shoe guides. Now I see that I've been in everything from zero drop to more normal shoes over the past 2-3 years, which has also coincided with my calf strains. Given that I've now developed this history for this type of injury would it be better/safer for me to just run in shoes with a higher drop thus decreasing the amount my calf stretches on each stride?


2013-08-09 3:17 PM
in reply to: tsprks

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Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
Stop switching shoes so often...... I would guess that if you found a shoe you were comfortable with and stick with it, your calves will thank you. Everytime you change shoes and vary the drops you have to re-train your calf muscles and more.
2013-08-09 4:13 PM
in reply to: tsprks

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Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
This is actually something I have plenty of experience with. I went from Air Pegasus (12mm drop) to Brooks Pureflow (4mm drop). I switched because normal trainers tend to be pretty bulky and feel a bit clunky. And, I'd get shin splints going downhill.

So, then I went to Newtons and got calf strain. But, I also got much, much faster.

There's your trade off. Your achilles and calf muscles are like giant rubber bands and when you land on your forefoot with your heel all the way back, it's like stretching out the rubber band. As you toe off, the calf contracts and pops you forward.

Now, I run in the Newtons when I'm racing and in Altra's for long training runs. For shorter intervals on a track it's either the Newtons or the Pureflows which are a little sleeker and lighter than the Altras.

But, you'll have to endure the calf strain. I doubt you're getting injured. you're just getting broken in. You'll have to adjust into them by running only a couple of miles, then a couple more and possibly using your old trainers for the first few long distance runs you do.

But, every "racer" no matter what brand of shoe they use run in something called a "racing flat" and, it's called that for a reason. If you can leverage more of your leg muscles you'll be faster and that's what low drop shoes do.
2013-08-09 4:19 PM
in reply to: adelsud

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Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
Well I'm not sure its the shoes fault but I have had diagnosed calf strains in both calves and have went through PT to work on rehabbing them and breaking up all the scar tissue they found. I'm just wondering if my shoes contributed to the problem..
2013-08-09 4:53 PM
in reply to: tsprks

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Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
I like that rubber band analogy. I think the key is to building up strength on your calf muscles gradually. Low toe-heel drops will stress and put more load on your calf muscles, no doubt. At least for me. When I transitioned from low toe-to-heel shoes, I started out with shorter distances. I still use medium toe-to-heel shoe on the long run, but I can comfortably run shorter distances on those neutral shoes.
2013-08-09 9:22 PM
in reply to: #4825424

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Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
Are you running in stability or neutral shoes? Stability shoes put a lot of strain on the lower legs to make up for any pronation. I can't run in stability shoes, every pair I have owned has led to lower leg cramps, strains, and tendinitis. If you don't pronate much i recommend get a neutral pair of shoes.


2013-08-11 12:22 AM
in reply to: adelsud

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Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
Originally posted by adelsud

Your achilles and calf muscles are like giant rubber bands and when you land on your forefoot with your heel all the way back, it's like stretching out the rubber band. As you toe off, the calf contracts and pops you forward.

  • ..

  • But, you'll have to endure the calf strain. I doubt you're getting injured. you're just getting broken in. You'll have to adjust into them by running only a couple of miles, then a couple more and possibly using your old trainers for the first few long distance runs you do.



    Let's just say you're 30 years old and you've been running for 20 of those years in "standard" fare running shoes of the day with 10-12mm drop. Now you're buying a bunch of different shoes, sometimes with 4mm drop. You won't "undo" all those years of running with less stretching of the calf very easily. If you are going to run in a low drop, zero drop, minimalist style shoe you need to accept that it's going to take a long time to break in. I still get achilles "tightness" after 2-3 miles, but my run form is much better. I don't run a lot, but it has literally taken me several years to accomodate.
    2013-08-11 8:43 PM
    in reply to: tsprks

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    Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
    In my experience, a lower drop heel will increase the amount of stress on your calves. With proper stretching, you can increase flexibility, but you may have less stress with a drop that is steeper. I learned this the hard way alternating shoes from a 12+ drop to around a 5-7mm drop. That combined with insufficient rest took me out of running for a few weeks. Since then, I've still been able to find a number of shoes with more of a drop, but still light weight and not too bulky. Currently I'm in the Mizuno Waver Rider 16's. At 10oz. they aren't the lightest, but they're not too bulky either.
    2013-08-12 9:55 AM
    in reply to: tedjohn

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    Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
    Thanks for all the input. Hearing some of your experiences at least makes me feel like that may be a lot of my problem. Prior to my injuries I had ran a couple marathons and was logging a lot of miles (for a recreational runner) in pretty much the same kind of shoes. Then I started tinkering and started getting hurt. Now I feel like I have a path of sorts to get back on track.
    2013-08-12 11:43 AM
    in reply to: #4825690

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    Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
    Try out the Brooks Ghost 6. I've been using them for a month and have noticed less calf strain from my previous asics cumulous shoes. But to be honest I haven't had any serious trouble with calf pain in the past, just some soreness from time to time
    But with the Brooks, no soreness.
    2013-08-12 11:46 AM
    in reply to: lekuhlman

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    Subject: RE: Heel Drop and Calf Pain
    The Brooks Ghost 6 will be my next shoe purchase. Right now I'm in the 5's and alternating a pair of Adidas Energy Boost's. Luckily they both have pretty much the same amount of drop even though the Boosts are 'squooshy' compared to my Ghosts. I'd ditch the Boosts now if my wife wouldn't kick my butt for 'wasting' that much on a pair of shoes.


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