If you’re in the market for shin guards for Muay Thai or MMA then you’re probably already training and sparring in combat sports. Shin protection is the difference between your training regularly with fewer injuries, all while increasing your skill and technique in the sport. Shin guards or shin pads not only protect you but your training partner too – which means more frequent training and happy training partners. We dive deep into the benefits, the drawbacks, what to look for, and our recommendations when hunting down the best shin guards for Muay Thai and MMA.
Shin guards are used to protect everything from your toes, feet, ankles, shins, and in some cases knees too. Not only are there a large number of fragile bones in the impact zones when you kick and check kicks (a form of blocking), but kicks do noticeable damage in training, even for beginners. Having hoards of training partners suffering from high volumes of leg kicks means lengthy recovery times and the likelihood of further injury. So being equipped with the right protection means the frequency of training can stay high, whilst getting maximum value out of improving your skills and experience in the striking game.
It’s important to look carefully when choosing the type of shin defense for your sport. Muay Thai shin guards vary slightly from MMA models, but ultimately you want a brand that can provide you with protection, flexibility, and a light shin guard that is also durable and trustworthy. If after researching MMA and Muay Thai you realize it’s not for you – take a look at the best BJJ Gi’s on the market for a non-striking sport that’s just as exciting.
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If you want to skip ahead to our top picks of shin guards for Muay Thai and MMA then check out our Editor Picks below 👇
Best Overall Shin Guards For MMA – Venum Elite
- Multi-density foam with reinforcement on the shin and neck of the foot
- Two wide elastic bands for support: one under the foot, the other behind the heel.
- Anatomical design: maximum mobility
Reasons To Buy ✅
- Venum Brand
- Premium materials
- Durable and long-lasting
- Full shin and calf coverage
- Flexible toe shielding
- Made in Thailand, elite craftsmanship
- Lots of colors and designs to choose from
Reasons To Avoid ❌
- High initial cost
Venum, one of the industry-leading MMA sporting brands brings to market yet another outstanding product. The Venum Elite Shinguards are hands down one of the best for MMA training and sparring. Shin guards designed with maximum mobility, durability, and comfort, so you can feel confident and safe going into training. Whilst MMA shin guards need to protect you and your training partner, they also need to be flexible enough to effectively support you in full-contact striking as well as the grappling, and ground game that takes place in MMA training.
The multi-density foam inside the shin padding reinforces the support and the ability to take and absorb damage without feeling the pain. Additionally, the overall coverage across the shin wraps around almost to the back of the calves. As we’ve seen in MMA today, there is a growing trend in lower calf kicks and we saw the almighty Connor McGregor dethroned by Dustin Poirier via a barrage of lower calf kicks. With the Venum Elite’s there is plenty of shielding in that area to prevent as much damage in the lower leg region.
In both Muay Thai and MMA, foot shielding is also important for shin guards, however, flexibility must be considered. For MMA, if there’s too much coverage of the foot, it can make MMA sparring difficult; impeding an athlete’s ability to push off the toes and freely transition in the ground game or scrambles. These shinguards provide a hybrid solution that provides enough coverage wrapping around the foot but does not prevent toe movement.
Lastly, the fit of these shin guards is near perfect – but make sure to choose the right size for you. Two heavy-duty straps on the upper and lower calf, as well as two supporting straps place on the ankle, and underneath the foot. All in all, this ensures that when kicking and checking a kick, the protective gear remains in place and requires no adjustments.
The video below is in Russian, but with English closed captions you can understand why they’re the best.
Best Overall Shin Guards For Muay Thai- Fairtex SP7
- Constructed of syntex leather
- Detachable shin protector and foot protector to adjust to fit user the most and for various purposes of use.
- Shin protector can be twited 90 degree from foot protector to follow your movement for maximum comfort and natural felling.
Reasons To Buy ✅
- Fairtex Brand
- Detachable shin guard
- Expanded side coverage
- Incredible quality and durability
- Can be worn with combat shoes
Reasons To Avoid ❌
- May be too bulky for MMA training
Fairtex is a world-renowned and respected brand in the combat sports world. From Fedor Emelianenko to former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos. As a professional MMA fighter, you’re looking for top-tier quality and reliability in your gear. While boasting a higher price point, these shin guards will provide you with world-class protection and last you for a long time.
The Fairtex SP7’s provide arguably the strongest resistance in the market. If you’re a Muay Thai athlete and partake in hard sparring where you’ll be kicking and getting kicked relentlessly, you will want to protect your shins as much as possible. With expanded coverage around the calf, these shin guards ensure that even a side on kick is blocked well.
The unique feature that Fairtex brings to the market is the ability to remove the foot cover. This is so that if you can wear combat shoes with these shin guards which you wouldn’t be able to do with the foot cover. If you’re training outside or on surfaces that aren’t matted, barefoot isn’t an option. Therefore using shoes of some kind will be needed, and these shin guards will provide the hybrid element that allows you to do so. Often in Thailand Muay Thai training is outside, so these work perfectly in that scenario.
These are durable shin guards are equipped with a level of protection you won’t find elsewhere. Be prepared to answer all the questions your sparring partner has after you turn up in these.
Most Lightweight Shin Guards- RDX
- RDX Shin insteps are manufactured with lightweight Maya Hide Leather and Nylon inner fabric for integrated durability and crack resistance. Perfectly assists you in Muay Thai, Kick boxing, MMA, BJJ, Karate and more.
- CE Certified, SATRA and SMMAF Approved Shin guards are infused with shock dispersion sheet for eventual impact resistance. Shell shock gel protection further augments in real tough training sessions.
- EVA-Lution foam coupled with Infused Shock dispersion sheet deliver prime level of cushioning. This allows the guards to distribute the heavy pressure out and around the surface area.
Reasons To Buy ✅
- Reputable brand
- Solid Maya Hide Leather
- CE, SATRA, SMMAF Certified gear
- Sweat-wicking lining to prevent bad odors.
Reasons To Avoid ❌
- Lower shin material can dig into ankle
RDX is well known for long-lasting gear in the sports world. Whether you’re looking at MMA headgear or sparring gloves, RDX has a long-lasting reputation for high-quality gear that can be found in the craftsmanship of these shin guards.
If you’re looking for the best shin guards for Muay Thai and MMA then look no further. These hybrid shin guards work well for all types of combat sports. It’s easier to design shin guards that protect in just the stand-up game, but the difficulty comes when adding the flexibility for the gear to work in wrestling, grappling, and scrambling in MMA. Having to constantly adjust the shinguards is cumbersome and dangerous while training. Having 4 straps in total to hold everything in place puts RDX at the top of the leaderboard for a hybrid product.
Lightweight products like this have the added benefit of not altering your kicking game as there’s not unwanted weight on your legs when striking. Whilst these products don’t weight a massive amount, when you multiple the additional effort by 200 kicks per session, it can add up. Understanding the types of shin guards out there can make a difference to the products you end up choosing.
Designed for beginners and intermediate athletes, these lightweight guards come at a reasonable price without breaking the bank. Having the reassurance of quality and being CE, SATRA, and SMMAF certified is an advantage.
Best Budget MMA Shin Guards – Elite Sports
FTD Top Pick
Elite Sports Standard Shin Guards for MMA
A competitive budget option that we’ve experimented with enough to recommend as a legitimate shin guard contender.
✅ Lightweight Design
✅ No adjustments needed
✅ Wraps around the entire leg
✅ IBJJF Approved
✅ Antimicrobial Inner Lining
Elite Sports are fast becoming a name brand in the world of MMA, for a good reason. They provide great value for money, a decent pair of shin guards perfect for MMA training in this case, which comes in several vibrant colors – choose one that suits your style and personality. Elite Sports also have an array of gear, including headgear for MMA and training bags for the gym.
If you’re starting out in Muay Thai or MMA then these will be suited for you. Without having to spend a great deal of money for all of your gear (which there is a lot of!) Elite MMA shin guards will give you what you need for the early phases of your combat sports training.
Our research and testing with these shin guards showed that the drawbacks included insufficient padding and protection compared to our other products. This is a stark contrast to the likes of the Venum Elite which offers substantially more.
The greatest part about this pair of shin guards is that it fits like a sock. This undoubtedly means that you won’t have to constantly be adjusting them like you would with some velcro strap alternatives. Additionally, for MMA training it means that when the fight goes to the ground and there’s a scramble, the shin guards will stay in place and won’t irritate you and put you off your game.
Whilst they are lightweight and have anti-odor and sweat-wicking technology, there isn’t a great deal of padding. They won’t be the best for hard leg kicks and checking of kicks.
Best Value Shin Guards – Sanabul Essential
- Just What You Need: The Essentials Striking Series was created to give you professional gear at a great value. Our shin guards keep your legs protected inside, with vivid Sanabul colors on the outside. Or, go all-black for that understated look
- Perfect for Any Combat Sport: No matter what sport you practice, we designed the Sanabul Essential Shin Guards to be as comfortable as MMA shin guards but also have the protection and feel of traditional kickboxing or Muay Thai shin guards
- Tested By Pros, Created for You: We put together Team Sanabul to take our gear through the toughest training there is. If it holds up for pro fighters like Alan Jouban and Sean “Sugar” O’Malley, it’ll hold up for you
Reasons To Buy ✅
- Multiple Colors Available
- Secure Hook and Loop system
- Tested and designed by professionals
- Great value for money
Reasons To Avoid ❌
- Lacking enough foot coverage
Sanabul Essential should be part of anyone’s backup gear should your primary training equipment get damaged or go missing, from rash guards to BJJ Gi’s. These are the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ shin guards that aren’t actually all that bad. Like most, synthetic leather shin guards are the primary material for this equipment which not only keeps the weight down but the price too.
Overall, a good amount of coverage and protective gear, but lacking in some areas. We noticed in our trials that the foot padding was too short in most sizes which almost didn’t warrant having them in place. Additionally, the shin protectors, whilst they were good, they do not compete in terms of durability, absorption of damage, and all around coverage compared to our top picks in this review.
Sanabul has creatively thought of an ergonomic design adding articulated padding for the foot area for a better fit, but ultimately slightly too short. Coupled with the fact that there’s only one strap that ties around the bottom of the foot and not one around the ankle – it makes for a slightly looser fit.
Best MMA Sparring Shin Guards – RDX
Reasons To Buy ✅
- Knee shielding
- Sock-like fit
- Great value for money
- Unique design
Reasons To Avoid ❌
- Light coverage to shins
Flying knees are some of the most impressive knockouts in combat sports, but they are difficult to practice in training since they are so powerful. RDX has an answer to that. Most protective gear for the legs only have padding for the shins, however, this uniquely designed gear for your shins has shielding for the knees too. Not only does it provide you with the ability to throw knees in sparring, but also provides you with extra coverage when checking kicks with your knee (your training partner will thank you for this).
This lightweight gear for your shins has a sock-like design allowing you to slip them on easily and require little adjustment throughout training. To add to that there’s a hook and loop strap above the knee to further prevent any movement in the shin guard. The elasticity means ultra flexibility when kicking pads, the bag, or an opponent.
The obvious downside here is that the lightweight and flexible design means you have less coverage for your shins in terms of heavy-duty padding. Knowing that the tibia is a fragile body part, you’ll want to be careful using these for your shins. Finding the perfect balance between protection and weight is difficult, so be sure to bring the right product to the right training practice.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the best kickboxing or Muay Thai shin guards?
The best kickboxing or Muay Thai shin guards are:
1. Venum Elite
2. Fairtex SP7
4. Elite Sports Standard
5. Sanabul Essential
This article covers each option extensively.
What are the best shin guards for Muay Thai?
The Fairtex SP7’s provide arguably the strongest defnese in the market for Muay Thai. During hard sparring where you’ll be kicking and getting kicked relentlessly, you will want to protect your shins as much as possible. With expanded coverage around the calf, these shin guards ensure that even a side on kick is blocked well.
How do I choose Muay Thai shin guards?
Choosing Muay Thai shin guards isn’t that difficult, you must consider:
1. Your budget
2. Protection vs weight
3. How well it stays in place
4. Detachable shin guard or not
What are the best MMA shin guards?
The Venum brand is the only MMA shin guards that will provide you with the shielding, flexibility, and durability to last for years. These are made from strong synthetic leather but can also flex enough when the fight gets to the ground.
You cannot go wrong with these.
Do you need shin guards for heavy bag?
You do not need to wear any leg gear to kick or train on the heavy bag. In fact, kicking the heavy bag with your ‘naked’ leg will condition the bones and muscles to this type of impact. Doing it this way will also give you a much better feel for how clean a leg kick lands given a specific technique. MMA and Muay Thai fighters will spend a good percentage of their training camps kicking heavy bags.
Do you kick with your foot or shin?
Depending on the type of kicking technique you are throwing, this will change. Kicks to the leg will always aim to be with the shin, and the objective is to land on the inside or outside of the thigh. There are 26 bones in the foot, and landing primarily with the foot leaves you vulnerable to fractures and breaks. If the foot accidentally lands on a hard bone like the elbow or knee it can break.
In recent years we’ve also seen the proliferation of kicks to the calf which cause devastating results after a dozen accurate strikes. This type of kick is heavy and causes significant damage from the large shin bone directly into soft muscle.
Ideally with a body or head kick you’d want to land with the shin for optimum impact, however it’s not always easy, and the foot can do enough damage for your desired result.
What part of the Shin do you kick with?
A perfect kick will be with the lower end of your shin near your foot, but not your foot. This part is strong, should be conditioned, and causes the most damage.
By torqueing your hips enough and having a strong standing foot, the rotation in your hips will ensure the middle of the shin lands on impact which dishes out the most damage.