Sports Safety Equipment

Written by Gregg Ruais
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Athletes competing at all levels use sports safety equipment to avoid getting hurt on the playing field. While athletics promote physical, mental, and social health, engaging in strenuous physical activity can result in injury. The best equipment, however, reduces the risk of serious injury by protecting bones, reducing stress on joints and ligaments, and enabling athletes to elude danger.

When people think of sports safety equipment, what often comes to mind is padding. Contact sports such as football and lacrosse require extensive padding, because these games involve large, strong athletes colliding at full speed. Without adequate padding, players would end up breaking and bruising one another's bones all too frequently. In addition, baseball and softball catchers wear protective padding, because hardballs moving at high velocities can cause serious injury and even death.

Other sports safety equipment is much less noticeable than bulky padding. However, sometimes the smallest items and most intricate dissimilarities between equipment can make the difference between injury avoidance and a trip to the hospital. Some of the most commonly overlooked safety items are the shoes athletes wear.

Athletic Shoes as Sports Safety Equipment

At some point, everyone has worn uncomfortable shoes, and it is general knowledge that interior cushioning and flexible soles prevent sore feet. However, the fact that the quality of the shoes people wear affects the stability of joints and muscles in ankles, knees, hips, and back is less well known. Because people's feet are at the point of impact when they walk, run, and land, the way that shoes absorb shock affects the whole body.

If athletic shoes do not effectively cushion the impact of feet hitting the ground, ligaments and tendons strain to support the jolt of an athlete's body weight crashing against the earth. Over time, repeated stress takes its toll. Eventually, something snaps.

Wearing proper cleats for use on both astroturf and natural grass is another example of essential sports safety equipment. While athletes need cleats for traction, spikes can often hinder an athlete's ability to elude danger. All cleats press into the ground, but not all of them allow athletes to pivot. The inability to rotate feet can leave a player's knees very vulnerable.

Additional Sports Safety Equipment

Overlooking sports safety equipment can be something an athlete regrets for the rest of his or her life. Something as simple as toe protectors for baseball pitchers can prevent a lifetime of pain. Nearly all Major League Baseball pitchers wear this protective gear as a precaution against sharply hit ground balls that can break the fragile bones in a pitcher's feet. Some injuries not only sideline players but also cause lingering pain that can last years.

Many athletes consider mouthpieces unnecessary, but people who have had teeth knocked out playing sports tend to disagree with that notion. Other items include batting gloves that prevent blisters, umpire shoes that provide steel padding, and sunglasses that block out the sun's ultraviolet rays. None of this equipment hinders performance. Sports safety equipment keep athletes healthy.

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