Getting into gear: Choosing the right protective sportswear to avoid pain

Why sporting gear?

We’ve all watched cricket matches where play is suspended for a few minutes because a player’s helmet got damaged with a fast ball and he’s waiting for a new helmet from the dressing room.

But protective gear is not only meant for national players on television! It is just as important for you if you play a sport or engage in intense physical activity. Not wearing protective gear, or even wearing the wrong kind of gear, makes you vulnerable to sports injuries.

They say that “prevention is better than cure”, so let’s consider some simple pointers on sporting gear to keep in mind before you go out to play your next match.

What kind of sporting gear?

Shoes: The type of shoes you wear depends on the kind of sports you enjoy doing.

  • Running – Running shoes are flexible since they allow your foot to bend with every step.
  • Tennis – Tennis shoes are heavier and stiffer and designed at the toes for ‘stop-and-go’ action. You shouldn’t wear running shoes for tennis since tennis involves a lot of side-to-side movement and running shoes won’t give you the stability you need.
  • Aerobic exercise – For aerobic activity, shoes should have support, cushioning and allow for flexibility.
  • Football – Football shoes are well-fitting and don’t put extra pressure on the foot.

Eye wear: Wearing the correct eye wear is essential in sports. Eye gear worn in sports is usually made of a special kind of plastic called ‘polycarbonate’. It must fit correctly and have cushions over the nose and eyebrows. If you wear glasses, you may need to ask for prescription polycarbonate eye wear when you’re playing sports – don’t wear your regular glasses.

Helmets: If you play sports like cricket, boxing, rugby, cycling, and motorsports, you may be prone to head injuries. So wearing a helmet, that’s appropriate for the sport, is very important. In sports like cricket, the helmets are made to withstand repeated impact. Skateboard helmets cover more of the head, have lesser ventilation and are designed for high speed impacts as compared to cycling helmets. However, they are not designed for multiple impacts and should be changed when damaged.

Mouthguards: Mouthguards are worn in contact and other sports such as boxing, basketball, football, hockey, martial arts, volleyball or wrestling, where there is a risk of an injury to the head.

Pads and guards: Elbow and wrist guards could help prevent wrist and arm fractures while knee guards can protect your knees from breaks and cuts. These are useful in motorsports, cycling and skateboarding. Cricketers wear elbow pads and knee pads. In certain sports, male players wear a protective cup as well.

Once you’ve chosen the right kind of gear, make sure it fits perfectly. Check with your coach or trainer for more details.