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Shin pads and shin guards

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The original use of the shin pad or shin guard dates back as far as early Roman and Greek civilisations. Made from metal - usually bronze - these 'greaves', as they were known then, were purely to guard in battle. Later in the Middle Ages, they were increasingly made from cloth, leather or iron and designed to cover the entire leg.

It wasn't until the late 1800's that they were applied to sport, and ironically, as methods of battle and war engagement became more sophisticated, a shift from fighting to solely sporting applications occurred.

Although seen by many as a strategic adoption, rather than one of protection, cricket was the first sport to adopt shin guards very much in the style of the leg pads we see today. Prior to the introduction of the "leg before wicket" rule, the batsman was able to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps without injury to his legs.

It has been suggested that cricketer Sam Widdowson was responsible for the second major introduction of shin pads into sport, professional football, in the 1870's. He played professional cricket and football in Nottinghamshire, and introduced a cut down version of the cricket pad to protect him when playing football. Although initially laughed at, it didn't take long for other players to realise the potential for protecting their shins against what could otherwise be a very painful 'kick to the shins'.

Leather shin guards were introduced to baseball in the United Stated in 1907 by Roger Bresnahan - the "Duke of Tralee" - the famous Major Baseball League professional player and manager.

It wasn't long until their use spread to many other sports, and they are now, thought of as a very essential piece of equipment for most modern contact sports.

So why wear shin guards if you are a careful sports person?

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Regardless of how careful you are, and how rule-abiding both fellow team members and opponents you play sports with are, accidents can happen. An accidental kick in the shin, while not always causing lasting damage, can be extremely painful and debilitating, as anyone who has suffered this form of injury during a sports match will testify to.

However, some people are put off from wearing shin pads through a belief that they are restrictive and uncomfortable. However, this is really no longer the case, and certainly not an excuse for sports people not to take precautions in preventing against this most uncomfortable of potential injuries.

From a practical point of view, modern technologies ensure shin pads are both supple and protective - and most are now designed with a sport specificity, so that ones for football will differ from those manufactured for hockey. And on the comfort front, many sportspeople are now turning to Shinnerz, a shin tube / inner-sock specially designed for wearing under the shin pad.

Those wearing shin guards next to the skin will sometimes find that when the activity on the pitch or playing field during a game causes sweating, this can sometimes lead to an irritation of the skin under the shin guard. This can sometimes cause the appearance of red bump-like blotches, which is not uncommon. Sometimes these rashes and bumps are classed as one of two forms of 'contact dermatitis' - allergen (ACD) or irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). These can be identified more clearly by their redness, feeling itchy and sometimes a scaly form of dryness. Sweat, in particular, is the main cause of ICD, especially when it mixes with various preparations sportspeople sometimes apply to their legs before sport.

Surprisingly, some people are actually very sensitive to the material in the shin guards themselves, in particular neoprene, necessitating something being worn between the shin guard and the bare skin. This is where Shinnerz come into their own, providing a level of relief comfort for those who suffer from shin pad-related allergies.

Even those without an allergy to shin pad material need to take extra care. Playing sport in hot weather, or spending several successive hours playing means you will sweat much more than you normally would. This sweat and heat can very easily lead to a sweat rash (some people call it 'prickly heat') if perspiration becomes trapped under your skin should your sweat ducts become blocked. This is how blisters or red 'bumps' occur.

The sweat and rubbing-reducing qualities of Shinnerz is one of the most effective ways of minimising this, especially if worn next to originally clean, dry skin.

Although initially designed to reduce rubbing and sweat rashes many athletes from all disciplines are finding that the built-in foot stirrup allows Shinnerz to remain in place during sport and they also provide warmth for the calf and Achilles regions of the leg so are ideal for sports such as triathlons, dancing, martial arts and ice hockey.

>And as well as the practical applications to stop rubbing and chafing, help prevent sweat rashes yet add warmth and cushioning, they also add an element of smartness to those who play 'socks-'down. And being suitable for all sports enthusiasts, from 8 years to adults, male or female, they offer great opportunities for advertising and personalisation, something which should prove popular with sponsors of both professional and amateur teams.

Shin pads support and protect the shins and ankles and can help to prevent injuries such as fractures and sprains as well as reducing the likelihood of suffering from bruising and swelling.

And it goes without saying that both your Shinnerz and shin pads should be cleaned after every use, as nothing will protect you if bacteria gets under your skin from a Shinnerz or shin pad that has sat dirty in a sports bag for a week!

Shin guards for sports protection


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So why should people go to such great lengths to protect their shins if they feel they are in a sport that might not demand their use?

From a medical point of view, the shinbone (or tibia) is the larger and stronger of the two bones in the leg below the knee. However, it is a very 'strategic' leg bone, in that it connects the knee with the ankle bones. And it is the one of the strongest weight bearing bone of the body, taking the weight of almost five times that of the body when walking, and even more during exercise.

However, despite its strength and weight-bearing ability, the tibia is one of the most common fractured long bones in the human body, so protection is needed should there be any danger of this happening.

While high-energy collisions, such as those in an automobile or motorcycle crash, are quite common causes of tibial shaft fractures - no human bone, will in reality, stand much of a chance against a moving vehicle.

However, lower-energy injuries such as those gained through sports -a fall while running into another player during football or rugby, being hit by a tennis racket during doubles or careering into a hurdle in athletics - are all events that can also cause a tibial shaft fracture, which, although perhaps not a severe as a total, multi-breakage is nevertheless equally as painful and similarly inconvenient.

And remember, as it is a weight-bearing bone, if it is damaged, it will no longer be able to bear that weight, and we all know how inconvenient a leg plaster cast and being confined to using crutches or a wheelchair can be!

So any proactive preventative measures you can take to avoid this happening are certainly sensible, with the protection provided by a shin pad supported by Shinnerz making sound, all-round good sporting sense.

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