Everything You Want to Know About Shin Protection
If you participate in sports that are a little more intense than a round of golf or bowling with your buddies, chances are you can probably benefit from shin protection. While you may simply associate shin pads with soccer, they are also worn by hockey players, snowboarders and motocross participants. They are designed to protect your tibia, which is largely exposed along the front of your lower leg. This is an area that lacks very little cushioning and is very vulnerable to injury and even fracture with minimal impact.
What is Shin Protection?
Shin pads are pieces of protective equipment that are worn directly in front of the shins. Today, they are made out of a few different types of material, such as:
- Plastic – These are the least protective out of the available styles, but still quite popular when minimal impact is foreseen. This type of protection is suited for the catcher on a children’s softball team. There is small chance for them to get hit by a bat or ball, yet they should still wear some type of protection.
- Fiber Glass – This kind of shin protection is sturdy and lightweight, but very stiff. They are ideal for many different sports, which makes them a very popular choice.
- Polyurethane – These shin pads are sturdy and heavy, offering ultimate protection, but not so practical for moving around. Polyurethane shin guards are worn by goalies who are fairly stationary, but need a maximum level of protection.
- Foam Rubber – These are really lightweight, but not quite as protective as fiberglass. It is traditionally a cheap alternative if you only need minimum protection.
Properly fitting shin guards will cover the full length of your ankle from your knee down to your ankle, minus one to two inches. While they should provide maximum shin protection, they must not hinder the athlete's performance.
Putting on Soccer Shin Guards
If you can put on soccer shin guards, you can successfully put on any type, for any sport. They may not be the most comfortable accessory to wear at first, and they can easily become pretty smelly, but they are necessary and you will get used to them.
- Determine the type of protection you need as well as what you prefer. You will find that some are made with ankle sleeves while others are not. Traditionally, the ankle sleeve varieties are worn primarily by younger kids. These have a foam layer that is surrounded by an elastic sock.
- The shin guard is made to put on before your shoes, especially if you are wearing one that has an ankle sleeve. These will have a strip that is placed around the bottom part of your foot.
- Stretch the elastic strap that is attached around your calve up at the top and secure it in place to stop it from moving at all once your sock is over it.
- If your shin protection has ankle sleeves, slip your socks on next, making sure that the pad and your sock have a nice snug fit. If you have the sleeveless type of guard, you may find it helpful to apply tape around the outside of your sock to hold the guard in place.
- Put on your shoes and move around a bit to test for comfort and fit.
Selecting the Right Shin Guards
Most quality athletic stores are equipped with a staff that is knowledgeable to help you choose the protection that best suit your needs. When trying on the shin guards, you should be able to move your foot and bend your knee freely without any interference. Fiberglass guards are recommended for more sports because they provide exceptional protection.
If you are purchasing shin protection for a young player, they will usually begin by wearing a one-piece guard with an attached ankle guard to also protect their achilles tendon from any direct kicks. Older players usually prefer a two-piece guard or one that will fit in a compression sleeve for more flexibility.
Regardless of what sport you play, you are better off wearing shin guards than sitting on the sidelines at the game or up in the chalet at the ski resort talking about how bad your shins are. It doesn't make you any more brave or any better of an athlete to go without protection.