Ever look down at your barbell after doing a WOD with high reps of cleans and see a portion of you shin still attached to the bar? At some point in CrossFit, you will abuse your shin by properly performing deadlifts, cleans, snatches or other lifts that involve tracking the bar over your shin. Also, there will be that workout where you botch a box jump or shred your shin on a rope climb. When this happens you will realize that there needs to be a better way to protect your shins.
We have attempted to remedy this by wearing ridiculous looking high socks, flash-dance-leg-warmer-like compression sleeves, soccer shin guards or even in disparate times using athletic tap to cover the front of our shins. When it comes to protecting our shins without affecting the form of the lift, all of these have been epic failures on par with New Coke (young’ns Google this if you have no idea about this debacle). But alas, someone has created an good product that alleviates many of the shin damage that we experience as CrossFitters.
Rocktape, the people responsible for all that weird looking tape jobs plaguing athletes of all genres, have modified a rowing product and rebranded it as Rocktape Shin Skins. It is a calf sleeve with a 3mm neoprene front and a stretchy drywick material on the back. At the top and bottom of the interior of the sleeves is a grippy rubber band that truly prevents the sleeves from slipping. The 3mm of neoprene does an adequate job of protecting your shins on lifts without being too bulky and altering the proper path of the bar. Another bonus is that once you put them on, their relative light weight and streamlined design makes you forget your wearing them. For rope climbs, they are about as close to the perfect prescription for not donating epidermis to the rope at your local gym.
However, the Shin Skins are not without flaws. The neoprene breathes about as well as an 80-year-old cigarette smoker and leaves your shins soaked with sweat. The lip at the top of the sleeve slightly catches the bar on the downward track of a lift screwing you up on touch-and-go lifts. It is dubious how effective they really are as compression sleeves, and they provide minimal protection at best when your shin crashes down on the sharp wooden edge of a box when you perform that “didn’t quite make it box jump.” If we were to get really picky, we would also like to see the sleeves being about 1 1/2 to 2 inches longer in the medium size. And finally, the aesthetics could be improved by removing the positive sayings on the neoprene. While the inspiration is nice, we end up feeling like a billboard for Tony Robbins.
While not perfect, the Rocktape Shin Skins are the best thing we have found out there. Not quite the Holy Grail of CrossFit shin protection, but we’ll be sporting them at the box until something better comes.
Where to buy: Rogue Fitness