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Sweet Shin music: History of shinguards in sports

29 Mar 2013, 00:38 IST

Diadora Production Line - Customized Shoes For Francesco Totti

Almost everyone who has felt thirsty in the middle of the night has felt the intense pain when shin meets furniture. Just under the ‘Stubbed toe’ bracket of pain, a hit to the shin is excruciating. Thus, in sport today, globally, shins are usually covered. In modern day football, shins need to be protected by a standard issue ‘shin guard’ which saves the wearer from any direct impact which may be the result of a wayward pair of boots. The shin guard protects the tibia, also called the shinbone or the shankbone. It may be known as the strongest weight-bearing bone in the body, but any knock certainly hurts enough to warrant protection. Here are a few things about the ‘shin guard’ that you may have missed.

  1. A piece of equipment worn in many forms of sports across the world, usually as they are required by the rules of the game, or if the players feel the need for them. Some popular sports include football, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey and baseball.
  2. The concept of the shin guard is said to be inspired by the ‘greave’, which is a piece of armour which protects the leg. They were initially made from padded cloth to steel plate, and would extend till the thigh, or just the shin. Very popular in today’s movie culture, most Greek Hoplites are shown wearing these greaves. An evolved form of the greave is called the ‘full greave’, which covered both the back and the front.
  3. Cricket was the first sport to adopt the use of shin guards, even though they were much wider and larger than the original greave. Interestingly, the pads that cricket took up were more inclined towards an added advantage as opposed to standard protection. Any batsman who used these pads could easily cover the entire stumps and prevent the ball from meeting the stumps. It also added to his confidence and thus snowballed in to an offensive advantage. This problem was addressed in the year 1809, when the rule of ‘Leg before wicket’ was introduced. Today, these pads are worn by the batsmen, wicketkeeper and even fielders standing up close to the batsmen.
  4. The next major adopter to shin guards was Association football. Sam Weller Widdowson played cricket for Nottinghamshire and then football for Nottingham Forest. He picked up the pads he used for cricket and whittled them down to use them in a game of football. He strapped them to the outside of his stockings using straps of leather, and was met with ridicule in the initial stages. Slowly, the idea caught on, and today shin guards are a necessary part of football.
  5. Modern day shin guards depend on lightweight synthetic materials which add multiple advantages. These may vary from sturdy to sweat resistant. Some of the materials that shins have been made from are fiberglass (sturdy and light weight), foam rubber (extremely light weight but not very sturdy), Polyurethane or PU (sturdy but heavy), plastic (least effective) and metal (strongest of the lot but also the heaviest and ill at ease).
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