Why can’t I wear jewellery when playing sports?
Why can’t I wear jewellery when playing sports? There are problems associated with rings, body piercings, hair ribbons, necklaces and even watches. In general sports coaches and sports governing bodies recommend removing jewellery before performing the sport or activity. This advice is pretty universal, even if different sports governing bodies may nuance their advice for their sport.
Jewellery should be taken off before activities, and stored in a safe, secure place, to avoid the possibility of damaging the jewellery, sports equipment and yourself. In team sports we need to prevent injuring other competitors too. Just the other day while I was at the gym, I witnessed a woman get her long necklace caught on a bolt that was located on the underside of the bench that she was lying on while doing an exercise. She ended up pinned in place by the chain, which was dangling, from her neck. It is common for ear studs to get caught on equipment to causing tears and long term scarring.
Rings – Rings should be removed before activities. If you received a hand or finger injury and swelling occurs the ring may not be removable. This will be terribly painful and causes circulation issues. In extreme cases the ring may need to be cut off as it cant be removed. Another issue with rings is degloving. I witnessed this at a climbing wall when a climber stretched up for a hole with their left hands and put their fingers in a slot. As they pulled up their feet slipped and the whole weight of their body was hanging from the ring on their finger. Of course the ring cut into the skin, which gave way, degloving the finger.
Piercings and studs – Piercings and studs are popular. There is danger of injury to the wearer and/or other competitors from any body piercing. Earrings in particular are prone to being torn from earlobes when contact is made. When pulled out causes this bleeding, pain and scaring. Even if you don’t think your jewellery will get caught on clothing or sporting equipment, even simple stretches or rapid body movements can cause the hole to tear.
Recent piercings – If you take part in sport activities and are looking to get a new piercing, it’s important to know a little about healing time and hygiene. After getting a new piercing, the jewellery must stay in place for an extended period of time. For an earlobe piercing, the expected healing time is 6 weeks before you can safely change your earrings. For a cartilage piercing, the healing period is 12 weeks. Be sure to keep those timeframes in mind if your season is about to start.
During this healing period, the skin and tissue around the piercing is an open wound and will be particularly susceptible to infections caused by touching the area with dirty hands. In addition to your own sweat, dirt and other bacteria on shared sports equipment will be on your hands and body, exposing you to potential for infection.
Taping – Many athletes with body piercings or rings use tape to cover the jewellery during activities. While this tactic does remove some risk, it is not always a reasonable solution. Some types of body jewellery cannot be adequately taped without affecting your range of movement and the adhesive from the tape can irritate the piercing wound.
Ultimately, the best practice for athletes is to always remove body jewellery before playing any sport.
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You may be interested in our Digital Sports First Aid manual. The manual is free for anyone who books on one of our first aid courses. This can be downloaded multiple times to your hand held tablet or phone and includes links to a large video library of videos demonstrating first aid techniques like CPR and injury management. The manual also contains links to a library of blogs dealing with specific illnesses and injuries.