Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shin Guard Round-Up

The purpose of shin guards is two-fold:  to protect your own shins and to protect your training partners. Most gyms want trainees to wear shin guards even if they are MMA fighters.  Finding shin guards that fit is hard for everyone but especially for women.  In this post I review four pairs of shin guards that are regularly worn by the girls at my gym.

The problem most shorter people have is finding a shin guard that fits the tibia.  Many 'regular' shin guards hit above the bend of the knee and can hinder movement.  Also if the foot guard is too large it can make it painful to kick.

Most shin guards are made to be either slip-on or with hook and loops in the back.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages but anecdotally I see people having to adjust the hook and loop more than the slip-ons.  

Note:  All the gals in this study, including me, are 5'4 or under. 

Courtney - 5'2
1.  FighterGirls Shin Instep Guards
Price:  $24

From FighterGirls:
Fighter girls instep and shin guard are peferct for all marial arts These are the perfect light weight shin pads. Perfect for bag work or to wear underneath heavier ones. Plus, they are super cute in bright Kelly green with the Fighter Girls heart front and center in purple.  Made of machine washable elastic material these will keep their shape after repeated wearing and washing. They can be easily taken on and off with ultra flexible elastic material. The heel cut out helps hug your foot securely and will not move out of place.

These FighterGirls shin guards are cute and comfortable but as durable as Courtney would like.  Although they are very easy to get on and perfect for heavy bag work (as they mentioned), you really cannot use these shin guards for sparring.  The foam pad is very soft and comfortable but not robust enough to withstand a checked kick.  Court bemoans the foam frequently, saying that if they would just make them with harder foam they would be perfect.  They come in small and medium sizes which is great for women with a short tibia.  

Pros:  Cheap, cute (lots of different colors), machine washable, comfortable and great size.  
Cons:  Foam guard is not hard enough for sparring.
Final:  This is a great shin guard for a woman who wants to protect her shins from bruises while working on the heavy bags, but they are not for sparring.  Come on Debi...make a pair with harder foam and they would be perfect!
My Rating:  3/5

Sarah - 5'1.5 (that half inch is important y'all)

2.  Cageside "Muay Thai" Leather Shin Instep Guards
Price:  $54.95

From Cageside:
These are the shin guards you've been waiting for!
Leather with metal loops and velcro to get the perfect fit.
Extra padding covers the shin bone for the protection you need.
Sizing suggestions:
Small: fits 110 to 165lbs
Medium: fits 155 to 205lbs
Large: fits 185 to 235lbs
I am not sure what weight has to do with it...they should be sized according to length.  Sarah is one of my tinier girls but she is undoubtedly the best kickboxer in the gym.  She bout these Cageside shin guards about a year ago and loves them.  They fit her very well around although she does sometimes have to adjust them while sparring.  However, to me they come up a bit too high on her knee.  I wore them myself the other day and they felt great but were still too high on my knee. 

Pros:  Robust, different sizes, great for sparring.
Cons:  May be expensive for some, not great for women under about 5'5
Final:  This is a really excellent pair of shin guards but they still may be too high for some women.
My Rating 4/5 

L.A. (me!) - 5'4

3.  Windy Muay Thai Shin Guard
Price:  $50-$75 (varies)

From Ringside
Windy professional level shin instep guards are handcrafted in Thailand and are more compact than traditional guards.
  • Double shin padding absorbs shock
  • Two hook & loop style closures secure the fit
  • Elastic strap fastens to the foot
  • Synthetic leather construction
My beloved Windys.  Mike gave these to me almost eight years ago and I still wear them.  Yes, one of the straps is broken so I taped them, but they are still my favorites.  The shin guards are the perfect length on my tibia, probably because these are manufactured in Thailand where fighters are a bit smaller.  They are incredibly resilient and tough; I can kick the crap out of basically anything and never feel it.  They are very well made but the straps do give out over time.  Mine broke because a client tried to stretch them over his huge legs and snapped the strap.  I shall get a new pair soon but for now, these hold a lot of sentimental value as I wore them when I used to compete in stand-up.

Pros:  Strong construction, hard foam, perfect length for shorter legs.
Cons:  May be expensive for some.
Final:  These shin guards are perfect for female fighters.  They come in several sizes (I have a regular) so women taller than me can get a larger pair to accommodate longer limbs. 
Rating:  5/5

Tawnya - 5'4
4.  Title Classic Slip-On Shin Guards
Price:  $15

From Title
All the design and quality features of our signature cloth shin and instep guards in an economical offering. More than 1" of layered contoured foam padding over the entire shin and instep that offers outstanding protection. Easy slip on design is convenient and secure. Completely machine washable for even added benefits.
These are the shin guards that I actually stock in my gym.  Almost all of my fighters wear these shin guards.  They are cloth slip-ons with thick, hard foaming perfect for sparring or bag work.  They come in two sizes, Regular and Large.  I tend to give anyone under 6'0 the Regulars but they still fit shorter people very well.  In two cases I have girls under 5'0 and I ordered them the Youth version which is just a bit smaller than the Regulars.  

Pros:  Good fit, great price, washable (not in the washing machine), durable foam.
Cons:  After six months I really haven't found any problems with them.
Final:  These are easily the best slip-on shin guard on the market.  They are cheap and comfortable and great for sparring.
Rating:  5/5

There are many other brands that make shin-guards but these are the ones with which I have personal experience.  If you have a brand of shin-guards that you love, please comment below. 

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