Shin guards, also known as shin pads, are commonly used in a variety of contact sports including football and hockey.They are essential safety-wear; just beneath the surface of the shin lies the tibia bone, which lacks surrounding muscle and therefore cushioning against injury. Injuries to the shin can therefore be serious and very painful. A broken tibia takes a long time to heal.If you (or your son or daughter) are involved in sports, even occasionally, shin guards should be worn. There are a huge variety on offer; the price will depend on the construction material, the size and degree of protection, and the brand name.
These tips can help you pick the most suitable for your needs, at the right price:
Buy the right size - shin guards come in a range of sizes, and these vary depending on the brand (just like shoes). Make sure you try shin guards on before buying them, and wear them with your sports shoes so you can really test if they fit properly and feel comfortable. Walk around in the shop to get a feel for them. In terms of what size is right for you, shin guards should fit snugly but not compress the leg too much. They should provide protection from around an inch above the foot to right under the knee. Shin guards that are too long will be cumbersome and uncomfortable, while those that are too short will provide inadequate protection.
The right material - shin guards are made from a range of materials, and this difference is reflected in the price. The main materials used are fiberglass, foam rubber, plastic and polyurethane. Plastic is the cheapest, and consequently offers the weakest protection, but can be adequate for younger children who are less likely to be exposed to stronger challenges. Foam rubber is very lightweight, and as such is good for younger children, although it doesn't offer as much protection as fibreglass, which is stiff and sturdy. Polyurethane is the strongest and heaviest material, and offers the most protection. The most expensive shin guards will be made from fibreglass or polyurethane.
Attachment method - shin guards attach to the foot using different methods, the most common of which are velcro and slip-on. Velcro shin guards use velcro strips that attach at the back of the leg; these pads have the advantage of variable fitting snugness, and can also be easily taken off without removing footwear. However, some people are sensitive to velcro - particularly small children - and the initial 'weirdness' of the feeling can be off-putting during matches. The slip-on variety simply loop up and over the bare foot, but can't be removed as easily during matches once the wearer has put on their football boots or trainers.
Washable - ensure that shin guards are machine-washable, or at the very least hand-washable. Sweat and bacteria can build up on shin pads during a game, which can make the product unhygienic over time. If there are open cuts on the shin or surrounding area, pathogens from the shin pad can enter and potentially cause infection. Good shin pads will withstand regular machine washes; if in doubt, talk to the manufacturer.
Shin pads are a sensible and essential investment whether you play sports occasionally or as a regular participant. Hopefully these tips will help you buy the right pair.