All-Australian AFLW premiership defender Libby Birch has called for women and girls who play contact sport to think about protecting their most important assets: their breasts.
The Melbourne AFLW star and qualified physiotherapist is an advocate for wearing breast protection while playing contact sport.
“It’s like the modern mouthguard for females,” Birch said. “We wear helmets and shin guards, but what about protecting the most important part of your body?
“Since becoming a physio, I am more aware of the impact on breasts during contact sports. We chest-mark the ball, we get bumped, kicked and shoved during play, but wearing chest protection gives me confidence to know my breasts are being protected from injury and impact, today and into the future.”
Birch, a former top-level netball and hockey player, has been wearing BOOB ARMOUR inserts for the past two years of her AFLW career. Australian-owned and operated, BOOB ARMOUR is designed to protect breasts and prevent injury in women and girls playing impact and hardball sports including Australian Rules Football, Basketball, Netball, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Soccer, Hockey and Cricket.
She said: “There’s plenty of research evidence showing that impact to the breast can result in deep bruising and the formation of hard lumps in the breast tissue. Too many of us are unaware of the problem and underestimate the occurrence of breast injuries.”
“I have had numerous knocks and I’m taking more notice of that, looking after my breasts. But I have found real insecurity even at the elite level when it comes to talking about this kind of thing.
“It’s never really been talked about before and women find it embarrassing, but it’s our biology and we have to look after it.”
BOOB ARMOUR consists of inserts made from soft but strong polyethylene just two millimetres thick. They extend around the underarm for added protection, stabilise the breasts into position, and can be easily inserted in a sports bra.
Birch receives a lot of feedback from girls who say their parents are nervous about them playing contact sport because it looks too dangerous and rough. And she says many women are hesitant about chest-marking in footy for fear of injury.
“This is a product that helps parents and girls feel more comfortable and confident about contact sport, and we need to do everything we can to keep girls playing. So it’s important to learn to protect our body parts from a young age.
“I fell in love with this product. I think BOOB ARMOUR is for everyone, not just the elite. Everyone can wear it.”
BOOB ARMOUR founder Suzie Betts is also on a mission with Libby Birch to educate women and girls on what happens to their breasts during contact sports.
She launched BOOB ARMOUR, which is officially licenced by the AFL/AFLW, with one overriding ambition: to give more women and girls the confidence to play impact sports while protecting their breasts from injury.
“Another problem is that during running and jumping the breasts move up and down a significant amount, and this can cause breast pain,” Betts said. “Some girls may even avoid sports with a lot of running because of exercise induced breast pain. Up and down breast movement also stresses the weak ligaments and connective tissue that support the breast and which, once damaged, are irreparable. Strain of these tissues may lead to or accentuate undesirable breast sag.”
Seven sizes of BOOB ARMOUR are available for insertion into regular sports bras. They are suitable for females from the age of eight and can be custom-made in any colour or design. BOOB ARMOUR retails for $69.95 and is available at Sportsmart, SportsPower, local sporting clubs and boobarmour.com.au.