The shinbone is the most delicate but poorly protected part of the leg. It is ironically the most exposed part when it comes to gaming and sports. It is thinly surrounded by flesh and slightest of injuries can damage the thin flesh all the way to the shinbone. It is also the most sensitive area and any painful occurrence on it hurts more than any other part of the leg.
For this reason, guards are made to protect the shin from any damage. Almost all sporting activities that require a lot of movement put the shin at risk of being injured.
Shin guards, therefore, are a protective wear that keeps the shin safe from injury during sports or any other activity that exposes that part to possible injury. The guards provide absorption of shock and distribute it across the pads so that it does not reach the bone.
Most sport federations and bodies have decided to make it compulsory that every player should wear protective gear during sporting events to minimize injury. Shin guards are the most common preventive gears on the field and sometimes away from the field.
The bodies also have rules governing the manufacturing and wearing of the shins. Plastic and rubber shins are most preferred, and they should be elastic enough to fit in socks especially in soccer games and hockey.
On the other hand, there are shin guards that are fully strap-on and cannot be worn in socks. Excessively combative games like ice hockey, crickets and some martial arts require huge gears that are worn without socks. Goal keeping also require massive shin guards that should be worn properly to allow ease in movement and agility.
History of Shin Guards
In ancient days war was almost the sole occupation of mankind. People thrived on killing and displacing. This led to many inventions that ensured survival for the communities that needed to stay ahead on the battle field. Among them was the armor that protected most of the vital parts of the body.
The iron artisans made sure that areas likely to attract disabling pain and quick death were all protected by a thick layer of metal. Steel and bronze were majorly used to make armors.
Legs are a crucial part in war, therefore, to stay on their feet, soldiers wore bronze protectors around the shin.
This reduced chance of the enemy crippling the soldiers and making them vulnerable. This was the genesis of shin guards. The concept of protecting soldiers’ legs translated to protecting players legs in the field during sports.
From metallic shin guards, synthetic ones were made for easier movement and less weight. Research shows that carbon made shin guards with EVA and neoprene liners offer the best protection since they absorb and distribute shock maximally. On the market, the most available polypropylene based guards do not provide the required protection that is needed especially during high impact force occurrences.
Types of Shin Guards
There are different types of shin guards depending on the sport and the purpose they are serving. Shins are made in consideration of the roughness of the game and the intensity of combat during the sports. Every game has its own designed guard, ranging from the type of material, the thickness and the weight of the guard on the legs. They include:
Slip-in shin guards
These are worn around the leg like leg warmers. They are light and easy to maneuver around in. they make running and moving the legs easy.
As light as they seem to be, they can absorb impact but not as good as other types of guards. They should be worn by players who really know how to minimize and evade injury during the sporting event.
Ankle shin guards
Ankle shin guards are usually thick and go all the way from the knee to the ankle. They are heavy with more protecting material. Moving in them can be a bit hectic and requires intensive practice.
These are recommended for highly combative games like field hockey and should also be worn by players who are less accustomed to the movements of the specific game.
On the positive side, since they come with an ankle strap, they are firm on the legs and offer maximum protection. They also survive the intensity of the game for quite some time thus making them more durable than the slip-in shin guards.
Sock Style shin guards
These are simply padded socks. As much as they are not highly protective, they are ironically the most used guards in most games. They serve both purposes of socks and protectors. They are thick and can absorb shock to a certain level.
In case for hard impact, then the shin suffers the danger of getting damaged. They are commonly used by soccer players who can professionally avoid impact on the shin. They are also good for soccer since soccer has rules that take care of injuries of players during the games.
Strap-on shin guards
This are not the latest but have stayed on the market for ages. They are normally pads that are directly strapped around the shin and sock worn on top.
These shins are less popular nowadays because of their tendency to unstrap during games and falling off especially when socks are not tight enough. They also lead to tearing of socks therefore are least preferred especially with the sock style guards coming up.
Since there are several types of shin guards, the question on how shin guards should be worn for effective results will always come up. Guards are not just worn for the sake of protection but here are several aspects to be considered during wearing of the guards. Some of the factors to be considered are:
The comfort of the wearer: once the protectors are worn, it is hard to move if they are not comfortable. Some may eat into the skin if not properly fitted. It is important to check the sizes and the compatibility of the guard with the size of one’s leg.
Proper fitting: shin guards should not be too tight or too loose. When they are too tight, it will be hard to move and they may damage the skin since most of the pads are made using plastic or hard rubber.
On the other hand, when they are too loose, they will move around the shin and the protection will not be guaranteed. This puts the player at risk of injury and less protection.
Strapping: various companies are moving away from strapping to totally fitting shin guards. However, in case of strapping, it is important to ensure that one has worn the pads on correct legs, that is, the one for the right leg on the right leg and that for the left leg on the left leg.
This will ensure correct strapping and the comfort during use. It is also important to ensure that the straps are properly adjusted and fully placed in the socks to avoid accidents during the sport. Hanging straps might lead to tripping and other accidents.
The most important thing to take note of when wearing shin guards, is the comfort and the quality of protection one is getting from the guards.
Proper fitting is also very important. They should not be too big or too small for the shin. Since they come various sizes, it is good to take time and shop for protectors that will fully protect you during the activity they are intended for.
Which Sports Require Mandatory Shin Protection?
This is a common question on sport sites. People that only play soccer requires the use of shin guards but the truth is almost all outdoor games require shin protection. The following games should never be played without shin protection:
- Soccer to avoid kicks on the shin
- Baseball for protection against hits from the bat and ball.
- Ice hockey to reduce stick hits, falling injuries and ball hits
- Field hockey to manage hits from the hockey sticks and the hard ball.
- Cricket: massively worn to protect against falls and hits from ball and sticks.
- Mountain bike trials
- Skating to reduce injury when one falls off
- Martial arts like kick boxing and Thai boxing require lots of protection since the shin is excessively exposed to injury.
- Extremely dangerous sports like biking requires more than just shin protection.
Before engaging in any form of sporting activity, it is important to ensure that one’s safety is guaranteed.
Wearing shin guards might seem tedious and cumbersome but the injuries one might get on the shin might render them crippled for the rest of their adult life.
Best Shin Guards on the Market
Many people go for the popularity of the brand and the class surrounding the said brand without considering the quality and compatibility with the game in question.
It is important to look for a sports gear that will not only fully protect you during the game but will give you the comfort needed for a peaceful sporting event.
Some games are very dangerous, for instance, field hockey where one can be hit with the ball and have their shin bone crashed into pieces.
Having the best quality shin guard would be better than wearing a brand that might not protect someone fully or give them the comfort they need during a game.
What Should Someone Look for When Buying Shin Guards?
The material that has been used in making the pads: one should be able to know the kind of material that will protect them depending on the level of impact. Some shin guards are made of plastic while others are made of hard rubber.
Other companies use thick cloth with pieces of optic fiber to increase the ability of shock absorption. Though thick guards are heavy on the legs, they are safer. Some of the companies with the best thick guards include: Addidas, Nike and Maui Thi Shin guards.
Sizing: people have different sizes of legs. There are companies that produce shin guards for the population close to them. For instance, shin guards made in Asia are likely to be of smaller sizes unlike American made guards.
It is not obvious that the usual size will fit, getting the details of the country of manufacturing helps in getting the most accurately fitting shin guards.
Length of protection: shin guards should protect the leg from the beneath the knee to the ankle. There are shin guards that come accompanied with knee caps and ankle straps with pads to protect the ankles from skin irritation.
In such cases the kit will fully fit the player. However, there are shins that don’t have the complete set for the knee and the ankles. Getting fitting pieces might be hard to affix. Getting a complete set of sport gears would be more advisable than piecing parts together.
Appropriate Shin Guards for Different Ages and Genders
Shin Guards are designed for different types of people including their age, gender and the type of activities they are engaging in. when buying guards, it is vital to consider preferences and the ability of the user to sustain playing with them. Here are some of the things to consider when buying shins guard for different types of people.
Shin guards for Kids
Kids are very delicate and the experiences they get at a tender age determines whether they will pick up the sport and continue with it through adulthood or not.
The need for kids to enjoy safety and the sport at the same time are conjoined. When buying shin guards for children, one should consider:
- Proper sizing of the guards: this helps the child to freely maneuver in them and not feel burdened by wearing them.
- Skin protection: kid’s skin is always very delicate. If they don’t get a brand of shins that protect their skin especially around the ankles, they might end up with bruises and cuts. This brings a bad experience during the sport and might affect the passion of the child.
- Association: kids will always compare what they are wearing with what their mentors and role models are wearing, especially in games. They also look around amongst themselves to see who has the classiest shin guards.
Parents should consider the preferences of their children when buying those guards. They should also try reasoning with them on matters of protection to avoid affecting their confidence on the field.
Knowing that your child is fully protected against injury during a sport is usually very comforting to a parent. Parents should therefore consider buying shin guards and other sport gears that guard their children fully against injury all the time.
Shin guards for men
Men are usually very aggressive in their sporting activities. However, most of the sports that require shin protection employ a lot of agility and swift movements. For these reasons, would always prefer protectors that allow them ease in movement and swiftness as well.
Most games also have rules that govern wearing of sport gears. When shopping for shin guards, men consider the comfort during movement, lightness but ability to absorb shock, ability to entirely fit in socks if they are strap-on, prices and the class for association.
Shin guards for women
Unlike men, women might be less aggressive in the same sports or activities. Their movements might not be as agile and swift like those of men and for many sports professionals this possess a bigger risk for injuries. Women would therefore require shin protectors that are thicker and more protective.
Women also look at details on colors and brands. Unlike men who don’t care so much about association, women will be keen on fashionable shins.
Most will go emotional gratification and justify the emotions with logic. On the contrary it is important for women to pick guards that will be comfortable on their delicate skin but highly protective as well.
Shin guards for elderly people
Elderly people engage in light sports that less combative. Since their skin and bodies are generally fragile, getting them medically approved shin guards would be appropriate. Some wear shin guards for pain and arthritis. This implies that shin guards are not just for sports but for protection even after injury.
The guards worn by elderly people should put into consideration reduced bulk, softness and lightness. They should also have ease measures when it comes to movements around the ankles and the knees. Most of the shins for elderly people are sock in style therefore do not require strapping or the use of sleeves.
To sum it up all, shins guards are important in protecting that one part of the leg that is usually very minimally protected since it has very lean flesh around it. The tibia bone is not so much insulated against pain and injury and may shatter when hit during activity collisions.
The healing of the bones takes a really long period of time and it might be totally impossible to make it perfect after the injury. Shin guards, therefore, protect this area against injury.
Proper selection and wearing of the guards is also vital for any sports person. For the shin guards to be effective, they must be worn properly, and the player should develop prowess in maneuvering around in them as well.