A lack of education and appropriate chest protection is leading to a growing injury problem in women’s contact sport, according to as new university study.
New research out of the University of Wollongong has found 48 per cent of respondents to a study who played contact sport had experienced a breast injury, yet only 10 per cent had reported it to anyone.
Associate Professor Deirdre McGhee from the university who specialises in breast health and biomechanics recently finished a four-year study into breast injuries in women’s sport.
“They basically said it’s a combination of they don’t think anyone can help and sensitivity about talking about breasts with a male coach or physio,” she said.
“They want to be like men and they don’t want their breasts to be an issue.
“They love their sport and don’t want anything that would impede them from playing, so they just put up with it.”
If identified, physiotherapists should be able to treat breast injuries quickly and effectively in the same way they treated any soft tissue injury.
However, appropriate padding to prevent the injuries in the first place is virtually non-existent.
Associate Professor McGhee said only 17 per cent of women footballers she surveyed wore any padded breast protection, and when they did, it was usually made for boys in junior rugby league.
“The padding needs to be fitted to the torso and breast shapes of women,” she said.
“I think it’s completely underestimated how much a supportive and comfortable, well-fitted sports bra can affect how a woman runs and how she throws or catches a ball.
“If we increase the breast support and encase the breast so it moves less, or we add some padding so it’s more protected, it’s far less likely to [negatively] affect their performance.”
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