13/04/2024

Monique Conti inserting BOOB ARMOUR. Photo BOOB ARMOUR.

Stars of the AFLW are encouraging all female athletes to think again about protecting their breasts from injury when playing contact sport.

If you clicked on this article hoping for a discussion of all things boobs, breasts, cleavage, or any of those not-so-appropriate names for a girl’s chest; you’ve come to the wrong place.

But I have your attention now, don’t I? So, let’s talk about the safety of women’s breasts and how all sportswomen can feel protected and confident while playing the sport they love.

If AFLW stars Libby Birch (Melbourne) and Monique Conti (Richmond) are talking about breast safety, you should be too. Birch and Conti are ambassadors of the brand Boob Armour; one of the very few products out there to support women’s breasts when playing contact sport.

For Birch, she admits that she didn’t know too much about the seriousness of breasts injuries.

“I’ve been playing elite sport for a really long time, but it never really occurred to me that breast injuries could occur,” Birch told The Inner Sanctum.

“I went and got myself an education about what the bumps and bruises caused from breast injuries could do down the track.

“That’s what really led me to using Boob Armour and making sure that it’s out there and a lot of young girls, regardless of what sport they play, and women as well know about it, because we all want to play… and be protected.”

Libby Birch inserting BOOB ARMOUR into her sports bra. Photo: BOOB ARMOUR

The insecurities females have with their bodies and feeling awkward about talking about their breasts is a reason both Birch and Conti believe there is a lack of conversation.

“I think it’s just never been talked about. There’s a lot of insecurities about young females talking out about injuries, particularly to the breast area possibly because it’s an insecure area for all girls. And in particular, I think some girls just don’t want to appear weak,” Birch said.

“Really opening up the conversation around this and making it public will really empower girls to understand that it’s happening to every girl playing one sport, and there is a way to protect yourself.”

According to a survey published in Science and Medicine in Football* led by Brooke Brisbine, it was found that of 297 female athletes surveyed, 58 percent of players have reported a  breast injury, with 48 percent of those noting that the injury affected their sports performance.

Conti was used to chest knocks but knew the benefits of wearing a product and looking after her health was also important.

“Being a female and having breasts, I always was getting knocked around in that area and ending up with a corky there or an elbow there. So, when I heard about Boob Armour, I really wanted to promote it, and put it out there that young female athletes can get some protection there,” Conti told The Inner Sanctum.

“I feel 100 percent protected in my Boob Armour; it’s just that extra layer of protection that you don’t have usually. It helps you become more confident knowing that when you’re getting hit in that area, you’re going to be protected.”

Another survey** led by Brisbine found that only 17 percent of the 207 females surveyed, used some sort of protective breast product. Over half of the respondents who said they didn’t use breast protection said it was because they simply didn’t know about it.

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Birch and Conti said that it needs that conversations around breast injuries should be normalized, and just in general, girls should feel comfortable to have them and protect them. The conversations around the injuries may then help reduce the number of injuries reported.

“When you think about safety, it’s a talking point that probably needs to be brought up more often. I just think some people might be awkward talking about it but at the end of the day, we’re women and we have breasts, so we need to protect them,” Conti said.

“I think that awareness will make it okay to talk about and, feeling confident about talking about things like Boob Armour. When I pull mine out after training or matches, people get to see it, and then we get to discuss it,” Birch said.

For male cricketers, it is ‘normal for the athletes to wear a box, to protect their lower area, particularly when batting and having to face a ball being bowled at high speeds. Conti said the same approach should be for breast protection.

“I guess you could consider it normal for the cricketers [to wear lower-body protection], and I want it to be normal for the women to wear the armour and protect their breasts as well,” Conti said.

Conti added, with Birch agreeing that elite female athletes like themselves should set an example for younger female athletes and show that they are okay using protection.

Libby Birch and Monique Conti couldn’t be more happy to show off their BOOB ARMOUR. Photo: BOOB ARMOUR.

“I think getting elite athletes to start promoting it will help with reaching out to the community and schools and get it going there with the young girls, and then obviously, all the way through to adult women,” Conti said.

“There has been a massive step for protection particularly at the elite level,” Birch said.

“Us athletes are role models for every sort of woman or young girl playing sport. So, if we are really leading the way with that, then that’s really going to be important for generations to come.”

Birch urges all female athletes to consider something to protect their breasts, especially if it has simple as wearing a layer of padding under their shirts.

“I truly believe it’s the modern mouthguard for modern-day female athletes. We need to look after our vital assets and we need to be aware and educated on the impact that contact sports can have on our breasts, and then, therefore, try and protect them wherever we can,” Birch said.

“If we can do that in the easiest possible way with a simple, thin protective shield, then that’s something that we should all do, and try and encourage all women and young girls to do.”

To find out more information about Boob Armour visit their website www.boobarmour.com.au

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