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Tackling breast issues in contact sports
  1. Joanna Wakefield-Scurr1,
  2. Zoe L Saynor1,
  3. Fiona Wilson2
  1. 1 School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
  2. 2 School of Physiotherapy, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, PO1 2ER, UK; joanna.wakefield-scurr{at}

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Scientific literature offers limited consideration of the female breast during contact sports. Breast injuries are prevalent, affecting up to 58% of players across their career, causing pain and tissue damage.1 The location and anatomy of the female breast make it particularly vulnerable in contact sports. Composed of fibro-adipose and fibroglandular tissue, the breast has limited connection to the pectoral muscles below. Intrinsic support comes from skin and fascia tissue, which lack mechanical strength, making the breast highly deformable. Breast impacts from hard or fast-moving objects result in tissue compression between the rigid thorax and the object. The breast’s extensive superficial capillary network increases the risk of contusions and haematomas from impacts.2 Limited intrinsic breast support allows independent breast movement during activity, loading the supporting structures, altering biomechanics and associated pain. Identifying appropriate external breast support is challenging and often leads to issues associated with poor bra choice, including upper body musculoskeletal impairments, pain, neural symptoms and skin abrasion.3

A dearth of data and awareness

Despite the vulnerability of the breast to injury, there remains a lack of published sports medicine data on this topic. The evidence available suggests that the proportion of athletes reporting breast injuries is low …

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  • Contributors JW-S—conceptualisation, writing (original draft), writing (review and editing), visualisation and project administration. ZLS—conceptualisation, writing (original draft), writing (review and editing), visualisation and project administration. FW—conceptualisation, writing (original draft), writing (review and editing), visualisation and project administration.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests FW is a Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.