Experiencing breast injuries during sports is a painful ordeal that often goes unnoticed and unreported. Despite the agony these injuries can cause, many athletes dismiss the impact they have. If you're among those who've experienced this, you're not alone. Shockingly, studies reveal that breast injuries in sports are prevalent and underreported, spanning all sports and performance levels.
A 2019 Australian study focused on Rugby and Australian Rules Football athletes demonstrated that nearly 60% of players had encountered contact-based breast injuries in the past. 48% of those affected disclosed that these injuries hindered their performance. Equally concerning was the revelation that coaches and medical personnel often underestimated both the frequency and significance of breast injuries.
A 2018 study conducted in the United States, involving female athletes engaged in collegiate-level basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball, indicated that almost half of the participants had experienced breast injuries during their college careers. However, less than 10% of these injuries were actually reported.
Breast injuries remain underreported due to assorted reasons, including cultural, social, and personal factors. We must understand the reasons to raise awareness on the subject and prevent injuries in the first place.
Unmasking the Reasons: Understanding the Silence on Breast Injuries
Breast injuries continue to evade proper reporting due to a myriad of factors, including cultural, social, and personal influences. It's crucial to explore these reasons to heighten awareness and subsequently prevent such injuries.
#1 The Veil of Ignorance
The studies mentioned earlier underscore a prevailing lack of awareness among athletes, coaches, and medical professionals regarding the frequency and impact of breast injuries in sports. This ignorance results in injuries being trivialized and their significance downplayed. Several origins of this lack of awareness may include:
- Gender Disparities: Throughout history, resources and attention have disproportionately favoured men's sports. This bias can translate into inadequate medical care and a lack of focus on addressing injuries specific to female or gender-diverse athletes, like breast injuries.
- Absence of Guidelines and Education: The scarcity of research on injuries specific to female athletes may leave coaches and medical professionals ill-equipped to manage breast injuries. Consequently, these injuries might be overlooked or improperly managed.
- Perceived Severity: In the absence of proper discourse and research, athletes might underestimate the severity of breast injuries, assuming them to be minor. This perception can discourage reporting, even when the injuries significantly impact performance and well-being.
#2 Shrouded Support
Some sports environments may not have established appropriate support systems to address breast injuries adequately, resulting in athletes being reticent about seeking help. This scenario can lead to:
- Stigma and Embarrassment: Societal norms surrounding female and gender-diverse bodies can make breast injuries a sensitive or taboo topic. This discomfort might discourage athletes, particularly younger ones, from discussing breast injuries openly with coaches, trainers, or teammates.
- Performance Pressure: In sports cultures emphasizing exceptional performance, athletes might avoid reporting injuries due to the pressure to excel. This can lead to athletes pushing through pain, including breast injuries, especially if the environment lacks awareness about managing such injuries.
A Call to Action: Elevating Breast Injury Awareness and Support
Addressing the issue of unreported breast injuries necessitates a holistic approach involving education, awareness campaigns, cultural shifts, and enhanced medical support for female and gender-diverse athletes. Creating a safe space where athletes can discuss injuries without hesitation is vital for their overall well-being and long-term athletic success.
We're dedicated to this cause, exemplified by our innovation – the AAVA Armoured Sports Bra. Designed, produced, and marketed with the aim of preventing upper-body injuries, including breast injuries, the AAVA product aligns with our mission of informing and empowering our community and customers.
Real change requires collective effort. While the AAVA plays a small part in this multifaceted endeavour, we eagerly anticipate collaborating with individuals, companies, and institutions to drive meaningful transformation. Together, we can help raise awareness of unreported breast injuries in female athletes and pave the way for a safer, healthier athletic experience.
- Breast injuries reported by female contact football players based on football code, player position and competition level: Brooke R Brisbine, Julie R Steele, Elissa Phillips & Deirdre E, Published online: 29 Oct 2019 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/24733938.2019.1682184
- Breast Injuries in Female Collegiate Basketball, Soccer, Softball and Volleyball Athletes: Prevalence, Type and Impact on Sports Participation: Laura J. Smith, Tamara D. Eichelberger, and Edward J. Kane, 2018 Jan; 14(1): 46–50 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758063/