If you’re a guy of any certain age, chances are you wouldn’t think about striking the gym with out a jockstrap. For the uninitiated, the item known more formally as being an “athletic supporter”is made up of an elasticized waistband and leg straps connected to a pouch that supports the testicles near to the body. You women can think of it as a sports bra for the guy’s balls.
Bike Athletic, the jock’s apparent inventor and primary distributor, claims that this has shipped 350 million supporters in the past 130 years. But in recent years, this brilliant elasticized chain binding men across the generations has snapped. At my local gym, I’ve been horrified to see young guys weight training with boxer shorts peeking out of their gym pants. I called Bike to determine if my observations reflected a more substantial truth. “Kids today will not be wearing jockstraps for sale,” answered spokesperson Jenny Shulman matter-of-factly.
The collapse of the age-old bond between fathers and sons might speak elegiac volumes, except to begin with: Jocks don’t do much. Bike claims the contraption was invented in 1874 as “support for your bicycle jockeys riding the cobblestone streets of Boston.” The manly wisdom containing prevailed in locker rooms for more than a century is the fact wearing an athletic supporter protects you against obtaining a hernia. The doctors I spoke to explained to me that’s “a well used athlete’s tale.”
“They kind of keep the genitalia from flopping around, is the best I was able to tell you,” says Dr. William O. Roberts, a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Jocks offer no protection up against the relatively common inguinal hernia, where a part of the gut descends through the canal which contains the spermatic cord. In addition they won’t protect you from what’s called a “sports hernia,” an unpleasant tearing or weakness of the muscles or tendons inside the pubis area that’s also referred to as “athletic pubalgia.” (Alternatively, the jockstrap apparently isn’t to blame for my senior high school bout with jock itch. The itching starts when the warm, wet environment in that area allows the fungus Trichophyton rubrum to flourish. That may happen jock or no jock.)
Bike doesn’t make any hernia claims. Its position is athletic supporters somehow “fight fatigue” and “prevent strain.” Indeed, jockstraps conduct a fine job of holding your balls from harm’s way and preventing the scrotal sac from getting all (ouch!) tangled up. But while working out in boxer shorts (or stark naked) isn’t a good idea, a good pair of form-fitting briefs will probably perform the job just as well.
The most effective reason to put on an athletic supporter is so that you can wear a protective cup. Again, for that uninitiated: Jockstraps may be found in two flavors: plain, and a kind of marsupial version that accepts a removable cup manufactured from hard plastic. A well-placed blow in this area is not only agonizing; it may destroy a testicle.
While many boys and men will get by without athletic supporters, a lot more must wear cups. Kids currently have helmets for practically everything-I wouldn’t be surprised to find out my sons using them for violin practice. But surprisingly few wear cups for sports, while i make my sons do for Little League and roller hockey. (Note to parents: The narrower ones are less irksome.) They consider cups annoying, and apparently other fellows do, too, which would explain the reasons eschew them even in situations that would seem to demand Kevlar.
I had heard that NFL players don’t wear cups but was still astonished when Joe Skiba, assistant equipment manager in the Ny Giants, provided confirmation. “Virtually all players believe less is far more, especially padding underneath the torso,” he explained via e-mail. “They think that this hinders their speed and gratification.”
Skiba states that many football players now sport a garment called compression shorts. Young amateurs just like the shorts, too, whilst they cost about double the amount as jocks. As outlined by Bike, which has diversified its athletic undergarment portfolio in these jock-unfriendly times, these stretchy shorts provide support and “steady, uniform pressure” to keep the groin, hamstring, abdomen, and quadriceps muscles in place during “the twisting, stretching and pivoting dexjpky93 of any game or strenuous exercise.” They’re also meant to “fight fatigue by helping prevent vascular pooling.”
Once I ran this by Dr. Roberts, he sounded skeptical. “If the short is compressing enough in order to avoid pooling of blood, can it not also prevent blood flow from below?” he asks. “Would this flow obstruction not cause calf fatigue and lack of lower muscle function?”
No matter whether they “fight fatigue,” it’s no great surprise that compression shorts are eating in to the jock’s market share. The shorts are generally more at ease-I always thought jocks were a pain in the butt-and much less embarrassing-looking.
But Bike thinks there’s snap from the old supporter yet. The corporation is launching a line with new fabrics and styles which they say will hit stores the coming year. They’re also set to debut the “Boxer Jock” and the “Brief Jock”-products with all the support of your jock without having the outdated appearance. All things considered, the Bike athletic supporter hadn’t changed in 30 years-right around the time I began wearing one. Nowadays, I recently wear briefs to a health club. The rest of the stuff is definitely an excessive amount of a stretch.