Sports safety equipment may save your day

When it comes to sports and gamoidaying, saving face can mean more than covering up for an embarrassment. it can literally mean “saving your face.” How? By using the correct safety equipment.

Baseball Smarts

It’s a fact: Early professional baseball players did not wear mitts. How would you like to catch a Roger Clemens fastball with your bare hand?

Even later, the first batting helmets (plastic baseball caps) appeared. Now, helmets have a padded inner liner and the added protection of padded earflaps. Some even have a clear plastic face guard.

To prevent facial injuries, many pediatricians endorse the face guard. Baseballs and softballs combined cause about 170,000 facial injuries a year to young players ages 5 to 14.

Helmet Hints for Cycling

Did you know that American cyclists were some of the first to wear helmets during professional races? Many European cyclists ridiculed the helmet-wearing Yankees. But now, it’s hard to find any cyclist not wearing a helmet.

Hard-shell helmets provide the best protection. The plastic shell spreads the impact over the entirehelmet and lessens the shock to the head.

Find a helmet that has an adjustable inner liner. Use the extra pads and adjust the chin strap to create a custom fit.

Whatever helmet you buy, find one that has a SNELL (Snell Memorial Foundation Standard) or ANSI (American National Standards Institute) sticker. This means the helmet has been tested and will provide adequate protection for your noggin.

Protection from Ice Hockey Slap Shots

If hockey is your game, don’t be caught off guard. Wear a helmet with face shield, and a mouthpiece, shin pads, shoulder pads, gloves, elbow pads, and for boys, a protective cup. Padded shorts will also protect your hips if you fall to the ice.

Choosing the right skate also is important. Find a pair that is the same size as your street shoes. If you buy skates too large in hopes you’ll grow into them, you won’t have enough support and may sprain an ankle.

All this equipment can be expensive. But it can last a long time if it is properly stored after you leave the ice. Don’t leave your equipment in your bag. Take it out as soon as you get home and allow it to air dry. Wipe down your skate blades to prevent rusting and have them sharpened often.

Tips for In-Line Skaters

In-Line skating is a great way to stay in shape or just have fun. As with hockey, it is important to find skates that fit properly.

Since sprained or broken wrists are the most common injury among in-line skaters, wrist guards are a must. Plastic inserts at the front and back of the guard help stabilize your wrists during a fall.

A quality skid lid should also be worn. Actually, the same helmet you use for cycling can be used for in-line skating. Pad your knees and your elbows and you’re ready to hit the streets, so to speak.

Shin Guards in Soccer

When is a bark worse than a bite? When somebody barks your shin and you’re not wearing a shin guard.

What’s worse than a bark? A break. Injuries commonly occur when players miss the ball and kick each other. A strong kick to an unprotected shin could snap your lower leg. Ouch!

“Collisions are not as common as in American football,” says David Janda, M.D., and director of the Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine. “But contact is common and can lead to serious injuries due to the higher speed at which soccer is played.”

But your shins aren’t the only things that need pads. Your goalposts should also have pads. The pads are not to protect the goal, though. They are to protect you when you’re flying in to score a goal and you hit the goal post. Instead of breaking your collarbone, you bounce back up, ready to score again.

Football–Avoid the Crunch

Dr. Janda is right. Collisions in American football are more common than in soccer. They also have a lot more crunch! Solution: more pads.

Helmets should fit snug without the chin strap fastened. The chin strap should snap to the helmet at four points. The back should have enough padding to keep the hard shell from touching your neck.

Shoulder pads should cover your breastbone, shoulder blades, and, of course, your shoulders. Wearing your helmet, bend your head toward your shoulder. The shoulder pads should contact thehelmet, and thus add more protection to your neck.

Hip, spine, thigh pads, and a protective cup should be made of rigid plastic. The liners should also be foam-lined for added protection.

Saying More Than Face

Give all your equipment a complete inspection before your purchase. Don’t buy helmets or pads that are cracked; fix any loose threads or frayed laces; and buy equipment that fits correctly.

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