Athletic Safety Apparel and Equipment

Lately, more and more health and wellness professionals have come forward, raising concerns about the rising obesity epidemic. In fact, weight gain does seem to be rising faster than ever, with some estimates suggesting that as many as 70% of the US population is now overweight or obese. Most research suggests that the best way to lose or prevent weight gain is through participation in physical activity. While jogging, biking, or swimming are all effective ways to get fit, involvement in organized sports can also be beneficial. To ensure optimal results and safety during these events, some basic pieces of protective equipment are often recommended.

The Gym

While the gym is often considered to be a safe place to work out, injuries can still occur. Typically, the most common injuries that occur at a gym include musculoskeletal sprains and strains to the lower back, shoulder, and neck. Individuals who are new to weight-lifting are often encouraged to schedule their workouts with a personal trainer who is experienced in body mechanics to avoid possible injury. Using appropriate assistive devices, such as weight belts, can also be helpful, though this is usually only necessary for individuals lifting exceptionally heavy weights. When exercising at the gym, individuals are encouraged to wear shirts and shorts made from either cotton or sweat-wicking materials and a high-quality pair of tennis shoes with a rubber sole. Women with long hair should tie it up in a ponytail to avoid possible injury.


Though football was once only popular in the United States, it has now spread to many countries around the world. While football injuries are often quite varied, the most common include concussions, shoulder dislocations, and knee strains. As football is a rough, contact sport, some injuries are unavoidable, and are simply a result of the game; however, others, such as concussions, can usually be avoided by wearing a properly-fitting helmet. In some cases, shoulder pads can provide protection against shoulder injuries, though this is not always true. When participating in football games, scrimmages, or practices, athletes should always wear cleats, thigh and knee pads, a jock strap, shoulder pads, gloves, and a helmet with a facemask. Other, less common pieces of protective gear includes neck rolls, mouth guards, and elbow, hip, and tailbone pads. Standard apparel for football players includes a jersey and football pants made from synthetic material, though individuals who are not playing in organized games may simply prefer performance t-shirts and loose shorts.


Baseball is often considered to be America's favorite pastime. Unfortunately, as in football, baseball players are at an increased risk for the development of a concussion. In addition, rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, and muscle sprains are also common. While musculoskeletal injuries can usually only be prevented by using proper biomechanics and obtaining appropriate amounts of rest, concussions can be avoided through the use of helmets. Other pieces of protective equipment include jock straps, face shields, and chest, elbow, and leg guards, though these are typically only used by catchers and umpires. During baseball games, practices, or scrimmages, players are usually encouraged to wear baseball cleats, synthetic shirts and pants or shorts, and sturdy baseball caps to shield the face and eyes from the sun.


Though basketball is a relatively new sport, it is still highly popular. Like many other contact sports, however, basketball can be quite dangerous. Basketball players often suffer from broken noses, sprained ankles, and black eyes. To avoid a sprained ankle, individuals who are especially prone to the development of this condition are often encouraged to use braces or wraps for additional support. In addition, the use of plastic sports goggles can provide substantial protection against damage to the nose, eyes, and face. Other pieces of protective gear include jock straps, knee and elbow braces, and in some cases, sweat bands. During play, basketball players usually wear synthetic shirts and shorts, along with high-topped, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes.


Soccer is considered by many individuals to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Individuals who participate in this sport are often considered to be at a substantial risk for the development of sprains and strains to the lower extremities. In addition, bruises, cuts, and scrapes to the legs and even torso are surprisingly common. To avoid possible sprains or strains, soccer players are often encouraged to develop the muscles of their lower body through regular strength training. In regards to bruises, cuts, and scrapes to the lower extremity, shin guards are often considered to be the best bet. Helmets and face masks are also recommended for use by players who may be at increased risk for physical contact, such as goalies. As with many of the other sports described previously, soccer apparel usually includes synthetic shirts and shorts, along with sturdy cleats.

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is a sport that is especially popular in northern climates. While a variety of injuries are possible during participation in ice hockey, cuts and scrapes to the face and head are especially common. To avoid these injuries, athletes are often encouraged to use head, neck guards, and face shields that provide all-encompassing protection. In addition to these products, hockey players must also rely on the use of jock straps, shoulder and elbow pads, gloves, and shin and mouth guards. Other pieces of equipment which are required for participation in ice hockey include a stick, skates, and shirts and pants that are made from jersey material.


Lacrosse is a popular Native American game that has increased in popularity around the world. Lacrosse is considered by most health professionals to be a moderate-risk sport that commonly results in the development of knee and ankle sprains or quadriceps/hamstring tears. As described previously, the only currently-recognized way to prevent these types of injuries involves strengthening the muscles of the lower body and using proper biomechanical techniques. While concussions can occur during lacrosse, they are generally considered to be uncommon due to the reliance on high-quality helmets. In addition to this piece of protective gear, lacrosse players also typically wear thick, padded gloves, cleats, and face masks. Lacrosse sticks, jerseys and shorts that are made from synthetic materials are also required.


At the time of article publication, there were an estimated 80,000 rugby players in the United States. Since rugby requires significant amounts of running, players often develop overuse injuries such as shin splints or stress fractures, though concussion and shoulder dislocation are also common. To avoid concussion or shoulder dislocation, rugby players are often encouraged to wear helmets or shoulder pads, though this practice is not common. Other pieces of protective rugby gear include mouth guards, ankle braces, and shin pads. Rugby players also rely on the use of shorts, jerseys, and tennis shoes to ensure optimal athletic performance.


While tennis is most commonly identified as an individual sport, it can also be played on teams or in pairs. As tennis is not a contact sport, most injuries are related to overuse, such as tennis elbow, bursitis, or stress fractures. Unfortunately, these types of injuries are often considered to be unavoidable, and usually can only be managed with appropriate amounts of rest. Ankle strains, however, which are also common in tennis, can be avoided through the use of high-quality tennis shoes and ankle braces for individuals who have previously been identified as having weak ankles. Other braces commonly used in tennis are those designed for the knee or elbow. In addition to wearing tennis shoes, tennis players often dress in t-shirts, tank tops, and shorts; though women often wear skirts. Hats or visors are often used to provide protection from the sun.


Golf is one of the only sports in existence that can be played by individuals of any age. While golf injuries are relatively rare, they can include sprains and strains to the back, neck, and shoulders. In most cases, the only way to avoid these types of injuries is to ensure proper form - which often requires guidance from an experienced golf professional. Many golfers today also rely on the use of hats, visors, or sunglasses for protection from the sun. In most cases, golf apparel includes casual pants, shirts, golf cleats, and gloves. A set of golf clubs that include at least one driver, wedge, putter, and several irons are also required.


Volleyball is a popular sport that can be played year-round. While volleyball players are not usually exposed to contact from other opponents, serious injuries can still develop. The most common injuries which occur during participation in volleyball games include bruises to the knees, which can be avoided through the use of sturdy knee pads. In addition, volleyball players are often considered to be at an increased risk for the development of knee strains and sprains, which usually can only be prevented through the development of strong musculoskeletal systems. While knee pads are often considered to be a must for volleyball players, some athletes may also wish to use elbow pads and knee or ankle braces. Common volleyball apparel includes shorts and shirts made from synthetic materials, rubber-soled tennis shoes, and for outdoor play, baseball hats or visors and sunglasses.


Running is a form of activity that can be enjoyed by individuals of any age or ability level. While some individuals turn to running in an attempt to lose weight, others take part in it simply for enjoyment. Whatever the reason, participation in a running program is not without risk. Individuals who run on a regular basis are at an increased risk for the development of shin splints and stress fractures, both of which can only be managed through the use of high quality running shoes. While protective gear for runners is uncommon, it can include reflectors and lights designed to increase visibility in low-light levels. Runners often wear tightly-fitting shirts, shorts, or pants that are made from sweat-wicking material. Cotton is often avoided as it can result in the development of serious, painful skin chafing.

Written by: , a staff writer at