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Breast protection in female contact football players

Summary of a survey study on breast protection used by female contact football players (AFL, rugby league, rugby union, rugby 7s) and their perception on the protection against contact breast injuries.

Who

207 female contact football players of Australian Football League (AFL) (82 players), Rugby League (47 players), Rugby Union (43 players) and Rugby 7s (35 players) aged on average 23.8 ± 5.9 years (Australia). 110 athletes were regional level, 23 state level, 62 national level, and 12 international level players.

Design

Survey: 17 questions.

Outcome measures/tests

  • breast protective equipment use
  • perceived effectiveness of protective equipment
  • bra assessment (112 players): coverage, padding

Main results

  • Survey (207 players):

    • 35 (17%) of players reported wearing breast protective equipment: 3 players wore breast padding and 32 players wore sholder pads combined with chest pads.
    • 63 (31%) players perceived that thair bra was excellent or good at protecting against breast injuries.
    • Reasons for not using breast protective equipment:
      • had no idea it existed 53%
      • it is uncomfortable 19%
      • not needed 15%
      • does not breath / too hot 15%
      • restricts upper body movement 14%
      • does not prevent breast injury 8%
      • does not fit me 8%
  • Bra assessment (112 players):

    • Type of bra worn:
      • compression sports bra 62%
      • encapsulation sports bra 21%
      • everyday bra 13%
      • hybrid sports bra 4%
    • 52% of players failed bra fit assessment; reasons:
      • too small caps 18%
      • too loose back band 17%
      • too loose straps 13%
      • too tight back band 10%
      • too tight straps 5%
      • 23% of bras with underwire failed due to underwire not conforming to the breast.

Take home message

For a clinician
Majority of female contact football athletes did not wear breast protective equipment. Main reason being they had no idea that breast protective equipment existed. Also, majority of the players wore illfitted bras during training and matches.
For a parent
Majority of female contact football athletes did not wear breast protective equipment. Main reason being they had no idea that breast protective equipment existed. Also, majority of the players wore illfitted bras during training and matches.
For an athlete
Seek professional help in fitting the bra you wear for trainig and matches. Also, consider the use of breast protective equipment.

Original article

Brisbine BR, Steele JR, Phillips E, McGhee DE. Use and perception of breast protective equipment by female contact football players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2020 Feb 14.

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