Did you know that your shin (or tibia) is one of the parts of your body that has the least amount of protection? This is because there is little to no muscle or fat covering the front or sides of a shin. If practicing in any combat sport that involves the use of legs, having the best Muay Thai shin guards are going to provide an astounding level of protection.
Trust me. This is coming from someone who has profusely bled from both shins from lightly grazing wooden furniture around the house.
In this guide, we explain everything there is to know about shin guards.
If you would like to know about the significance of shin guards, which brand offers the best options today, and what factors to consider before getting a pair, then read the rest of this guide!
Importance of Shin Guards for Muay Thai
Any serious combat sports gym would require you to use shin guards when sparring. This is to provide a level of protection that would allow you to safely and gradually condition your legs to the impact of leg strikes thrown, as well as the impact of leg strikes defended.
Despite some practitioners advising against the use of shin guards as it significantly slows down the conditioning of your leg strikes, we seriously recommend using them as often as possible to prevent or minimize the risk of injuries.
Muay Thai Shin Guards vs MMA Shin Guards - Is There a Difference?
Although popular Muay Thai and MMA brands offer shin guards that can be used in any contact sport that involves kicking strikes, we would like to point out a significant distinction between specialized Muay Thai specific shin guards and MMA shin guards.
Shin guards for MMA are built and designed with grappling in mind. This means that MMA ones are usually lighter, more flexible, and made of material that is thinner or more malleable.
On the other hand, Muay Thai shin guards will typically be thick and made of high-quality shells made of leather or synthetic leather. This is to provide a greater level of protection when throwing leg strikes or defending against leg strikes.
You will not go wrong with either regarding safety and protection, but if planning to fully commit to this sport, then choose Muay Thai-specific gear.
Types of Muay Thai Shin Guards
The market offers a variety of shin guards of all kinds of shapes, designs, and sizes, but all you need to know is that there's two broad categories of shin guards.
Shin Guards with Velcro Straps
These are the oldest and most commonly used kind in the sport of Muay Thai.
They are designed to offer you maximum protection through padding and premium material and are the most recommended guards for use in medium to hard-intensity sparring workouts.
Shin Guard Socks
Shin guard socks are essentially sleeves that you place your legs into.
These offer minimal protection but are very compact and easy to clean and maintain. We recommend these shin guards for light sparring sessions and even bag work and pad work for beginner Muay Thai practitioners.
Choosing the Right Size and Weight Shin Guards (with Sizing Guide)
As a general rule of thumb, the greater the size and weight, the more padding and protection it provides.
Whenever possible, especially for beginners, go for shin guards that meet the dimensions of your shin and foot and are light enough for normal leg movements in Muay Thai.
Take note of the following factors as well before purchasing your shin guards:
Below is a Muay Thai shin guard size chart to be used as a reference:
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing Shin Guards
As is the case with every product, you have to pay a premium to get premium-quality gear.
Purchasing shin guards that are worth 20 to 30 Dollars will not match the protection, durability, and quality offered by those that are 70 Dollars and above.
This piece of equipment should be prioritized, alongside the gloves and headgear. So if you have a pretty sizeable budget, go for the pricier shin guard options.
The brand is also indicative of the quality and reliability.
Refer to our top 8 list of shin guards below for a better idea of which brand to go with for protecting your shins.
Size, Weight, and Shape
The size, weight, and shape are one of the most important considerations before finalizing the purchase.
If possible, try to test out a variety of shin guards, in all shapes and sizes. Do this to understand how your feet and shins feel when wearing each product.
You will get to know which are best for your dimensions and you can then narrow your search to a particular set of dimensions.
Breathability is one of the most important factors to consider with shin guards as having thick, chunky padding around your lower leg and foot would definitely cause a sweat.
When picking a pair, look for shin guards that have well-ventilated inner materials. The interior build of the guards will facilitate the needed breathability.
Most modern-day guards have focused on breathability so you will not run out of brands and models to consider.
Just like in soccer or hockey, shin guards used in Muay Thai have to offer the maximum allowable range of motion and mobility.
Throwing leg kicks, body kicks, and high kicks need flexibility in the joints of your legs, particularly your knees and ankles. When trying on shin guards, make sure to find an open area to practice some kicking motions to check if the product is compatible with you.
Like with most training gear and equipment in combat sports, leather is truly the way to go, and not just any leather. It has to be 100% genuine leather.
Some people swear by 100% cowhide leather as the best material for most training gear and equipment.
If your budget does not allow for leather-based gear or equipment, go with the latest models made with synthetic leather. The latest kinds can match certain types of genuine leather these days.
When training, you will most likely be in gyms or heavily populated fitness clubs. For those of you particular about fashion or style, then the design should also be a major consideration.
Different brands cater to different tastes and fashion senses, so browse online and see which design or colorway speaks to you the most.
Best Muay Thai Shin Guards Today
We know that most of you were looking for this section specifically, so without further ado, here is our comprehensive list of the top 8 shin guards that are available today.
If seeking the cream of the crop, then consider the Fairtex Competition Shin Guards to be a member of that elite circle.
These are considered by many to be the greatest Muay Thai shin guards ever made, and rightfully so. These are extremely light, durable, and offer total protection for the shin and the feet.
They are used for sparring and amateur and professional matches, but we also recommend these to beginners who have more power in their kicks and are willing to do a sparring session in the gym.
These guards come with a hook and loop that are velcro straps, allowing for a perfect fit. The materials are premium quality synthetic leather and high-density foam to allow for stellar shock absorption capabilities.
If you believe in the brand, you better believe that these are the best shin guards for Muay Thai that they have to offer.
Another solid brand is Hayabusa, and each shin guard that has come out of this company recently has been amazingly durable and state-of-the-art. We present to you the Hayabusa T3 Shin Guards, designed to withstand intense strikes and extended sparring stretches.
The design is great and innovative. The pre-curved shape along the leg and knee provides superior and precise protection. Each shin guard utilizes a dual hook and loop strapping system to minimize slippage and shifting of the guard.
For those wanting a lightweight option that offers flexibility and industry-leading technology and ergonomics, then this one's is for you.
Top King is no slouch when we're talking about all Muay Thai and Boxing gear. This relatively new competitor presents to you the Top King Shin Guards.
They're created with premium leather, making it one of the best and most durable products available.
It has good protection that covers the shins almost completely, and highly-dense foam padding, offering you an added degree of protection.
As for the style and silhouette, we consider this pair to be the most stylish in the category. The Top King guards can truly make you want to go to the gym just to flaunt your gear.
From a practical standpoint, however, there was a little bit of sacrifice made in regards to protecting the smaller areas of shins and feet, so take note of the trade-off should you choose to go with this particular model.
Venum has been such a strong brand in almost all of our lists of boxing and Muay Thai equipment, and for good reason. In the shin guard category, Venum offers the Venum Elite Shin Guards, a very strong and prideful pair, that are meant to get the job done in a stylish fashion.
These are made in Thailand, the heart and soul of Muay Thai, which means that quality standards observed are top-notch.
The pair sports a synthetic leather build which is good for free-flowing movement or mobility. The round shape of the foot indicates additional padding for a boost in protection.
Venum Elite is of premium build and origin, so expect to shell out a bit more cash than the average shin guard. After all, this product is called Venum Elite.
After another shin guard option under the Top King brand? Then you can go for the Top King Empower Creativity Shin Guards.
These are admittedly not the best-performing pair, nor would we consider it to be the best Muay Thai equipment or best shin guards for Muay Thai, but at its price point, the build and quality is very acceptable.
Like most of the products offered by Top King, this pair of shin guards is built with pure leather, a premium build meant for the price.
In other words, if you're after a product that offers good protection and excellent durability, go for this product.
If you're a fan of UK-based products for boxing, MMA, and Muay Thai, then RDX is the right brand for you. RDX also offers their own shin guards, called the RDX shin guards.
This pair of shin guards, for its price, offers top-notch protection qualities not offered by its competitors.
These are a 3D-molded pair, sporting a unique design meant for even the toughest of sparring workouts.
The exterior component is created with nylon, reducing the cases of wear and tear (or shedding).
The interior of each shin guard has lining with a special material that keeps you as dry as possible even during the most sweaty workout sessions.
The shin guard list will not be complete if we do not talk about this special pair from Twins, the Twins Special Shin Guards.
This pair of shin guards, like all of the offerings of the Twins brand, prioritize top-notch protection and durability.
They're made from premium leather, allowing for frequent and intense use for several years to come.
As an added protection feature, this Twins product has a wider-than-average build, to help you block those nasty low kicks (that cannot be blocked by the front of shin).
Each shin guard has more padding in the front portion as well, so if you need a product with optimum protection and durability, go for this pair of shin guards.
Our last, but definitely not the least, pair of shin guards comes from Fairtex. The Fairtex Shin Guards, like the other Fairtex product mentioned in this list, offers superior protection and quality, which is why products like this are considered to be the best for beginners and competitors.
These shin guards provide such a good fit (though it may vary from person to person) and have a somewhat light but noticeable weight, which is a good feeling to experience, most especially during hard sparring sessions (as you feel that you have more protection).
Just remember that when we talk about Fairtex products, we are talking about quality, premium builds, industry-leading protection, and quite a hefty price tag.
Frequently Asked Questions
People usually ask about shin guards and protection for the legs, but we also come by a few soccer shin protectors as well. In this section, we take a look at (and answer) the most commonly asked questions regarding Muay Thai shin guards, soccer shin guards, and protection in general.
1. What size Muay Thai shin guards should I get?
The size of Muay Thai shin guards depends on the length and size of your feet and shins, so choose the shin guards that are the best fit for you. A pair usually comes in four different sizes (S, M, L, and XL) so you should not worry about finding the correct size for your feet and shins.
2. Do you need shin guards for kickboxing?
If you plan to do sparring, then a good pair of MMA shin guards or shin protectors (look up shin guard MMA) should definitely be a priority. Shin guards (MMA shin guards or Muay Thai shin pads) are worn to prevent or minimize injuries during training sessions. In general, look for shin guards specifically made for martial arts or kickboxing, but Muay Thai ones would also be acceptable as they offer the same level of protection (usually through a high-density foam and a synthetic leather build).
3. What equipment do I need for Muay Thai?
There are several pieces of equipment needed for Muay Thai, which is why "shin guards Muay Thai" is a commonly searched phrase online, but other than shin guards, one would need hand wraps (that preferably utilize the hook and loop and velcro straps system) and Muay Thai gloves or boxing gloves (check out Top King or Venum Elite) for basic Muay Thai training programs for safety and protection. If you're planning to spar or preparing for an amateur or professional bout, you would have to invest in most of the following: compression shorts, Muay Thai shorts, a mouth guard, a groin guard, an elbow guard, a knee guard, a head guard, a rash guard, and ankle support.
4. What are the best shin guards for soccer?
Soccer shin guards (or shin protectors) are totally different from Muay Thai guards, and the best protectors for soccer are produced by Adidas, Nike, Vizari, and Mercurial. If you have ever wondered if you could use soccer shin guards for Muay Thai or any other form of martial arts, do not. Soccer shin guards are made with completely different materials and are designed for a totally different purpose and thus would not offer the same level of shin protection offered by quality shin guards or Muay Thai leg pads.
5. Can you use soccer shin pads for Muay Thai?
We absolutely do not recommend the use of a pair of soccer shin pads as shin protection replacement for a pair of Muay Thai specific shin guards. The purpose of a soccer shin guard's totally different from the protection offered by a MMA or Muay Thai kickboxing shin guard. A Muay Thai shin guard will usually be made with synthetic leather and high-density foam while a soccer shin guard will be made of plastic, rubber, or other synthetic materials. Regarding protection, a good pair of shin guards will keep you safe from horrible injuries.
Our Top Pick: Favorite Shin Guards
Before we wrap up, we would like to let you know what we consider to be the best Muay Thai shin guards on offer.
The winner is none other than the Fairtex Competition Muay Thai Shin Guards!
Do not be confused by its name. These are as good for beginners as they are for veteran Muay Thai practitioners.
The build quality of this product is simply unmatched, and the fit (based on personal experience) is one of the best we have discovered.
If your local retailer has this pair on display, go ahead and try them out on your legs. We have a strong feeling that you will end up buying the product.
It is so easy to come by these shin guards online and in physical stores, but it is honestly very challenging to find the very best, which is why this guide should be of great value to your needs.
As you invest further in Muay Thai, or any form of Martial Arts involving leg strikes, you would really have to beef up protection of your legs, protection of your knees, and protection of your feet.
You may have seen videos of old-school training involving bare legs and feet striking extremely solid objects such as steel or trees, but we have to be more realistic and practical.
For most people, Muay Thai is not going to be a money-making career, but the protection of the legs, protection of the feet, and protection of the knees are of prime importance because most professions would require the use of legs and feet.
So remember, if you're on the hunt (online or physical retail store) for shin guards for Muay Thai, only choose the best Muay Thai shin guards for you.