Taking a blow to the chest during a training session or game is something most female athletes have experienced at some point or another. Whether it’s a rogue elbow, knee or ball, breasts are particularly vulnerable to direct hits because of the way our bodies are built, so they need to be protected during sporting activity.
While rarely life-threatening, in the short term an impact to the chest can cause discomfort, pain and bruising. And in the long term, harder hits can result in hematomas, difficulty breastfeeding and interference of medical scans . And just as with any injury, they can impact your sporting performance.
Studies show that breast injuries affected nearly 48% of basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball athletes in the USA. But concerningly, only 10% of women choose to tell their coach or medical professional about the incident or any resulting injuries .
So why are these impacts and injuries not being reported? Unfortunately, the stigma around breast protection and injuries is a very real and damaging one. Reasons include embarrassment, shame, not wanting to draw attention from the crowd, and not wanting to be seen as ‘weak’ and negatively impacting our chances of career progression. Plus, few coaches or other athletes have any injury prevention plans in place for this area of the body - subtly implying that our breasts (compared to other parts of our bodies) are not seen as an area at risk during sports.
Let’s Take Action
We can all agree that our breasts (as with the rest of our body) deserve to be protected and kept safe - and this initiative does not indicate a weakness in us as athletes. So, not only does the common occurrence of breast injury need to be normalised for the wellbeing of players, the information collected from reports will assist with further innovations in the development of chest protection gear. The more we know about the ways our chest and breasts can be injured during sports, the better players can be protected and prevent injuries in the first place.
Here are our three tips for taking action against the stigma of breast injuries and chest protection strategies:
- Speak with your coach - request they develop a team strategy for chest protection (as they would for an injury to any other area of the body) and to educate the team on the risks of breast injury and how to protect themselves, and tell them to report any concerning knocks.
- Report it - take a knock to the chest and it hurts? Let the coach and team know - be the change you want to see. Safety is not a weakness.
- Wear chest protection - breast injuries can impact your physical performance, so the age-old rule applies - prevention is the best cure.
Why Smart Sportswoman Wear Chest Protection
Gymnast Simone Biles once said “I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” We all know that becoming a great sportswoman takes dedication, making sacrifices and taking risks. But the smartest sportswoman can identify the risks worth taking, and the ones worth minimising. That’s why more and more female athletes are taking action and choosing to protect themselves with chest protectors.
The Zena Z1 has been specifically designed for females who play contact sport. Extremely lightweight, the vest protects from impact & provides the ultimate confidence on the field.