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How do I Choose the Best Shin Protectors?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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Shin protectors, or shin guards, are an essential accessory for anyone playing contact sports such as soccer. In order to protect the shin effectively, a shin guard needs to be the correct size. You also need to think about which material the protector is made from, as some are lightweight while others are designed for maximum protection. Other considerations when choosing the best shin protectors include whether to buy a pair with ankle protection and whether you need a moldable shin guard for added comfort.

The size of a shin protector is one of the most important factors. A guard that is too small won’t provide the required protection, while one that’s too big may restrict your motion. For soccer, for example, you should try to find a shin protector that covers about three-quarters of the shin. This provides maximum protection but doesn’t restrict the knee joint. Other sports may require smaller or larger shin protectors.

Most shin protectors are made using EVA foam on the inner side, which provides protection as well as comfort. The outside of the guard needs to be much stronger, however, as it will bear the brunt of any impact. Stronger materials, such as polyurethane, provide the most protection, but are also the heaviest. You need to decide whether your sport and style of play requires extra protection or whether speed and agility are more important.

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Shin protectors can be bought with or without ankle sleeves. The advantage of ankle protection is obvious because the ankles are exposed to strong impacts in many contact sports. Ankle protectors can noticeably restrict motion of the joint, though, so some players may prefer shin guards without them. This decision may partly depend on your style of play; defensive players will often need more protection. Young players should usually use shin guards with ankle protection while playing competitive games because the extra safety outweighs any small loss of motion in the joint.

There are several other issues to consider when choosing a pair of shin protectors. Moldable shin guards, for example, provide extra comfort and a personalized fit. If you’ve had a previous ankle injury, the extra support and protection from an ankle guard may be an essential, rather than an optional, extra. In general, most manufacturers of shin guards produce guards of a similar quality, but it’s still important to read reviews of a particular item to see if it provides adequate protection and comfort.

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