If you’re a guy of your certain age, then chances are you wouldn’t think of showing up in the gym without having a jockstrap. For the uninitiated, the product known more formally as an “athletic supporter”consists of an elasticized waistband and leg straps attached to a pouch that holds the testicles near the body. You women can consider it as a sports bra to get a guy’s balls.
Bike Athletic, the jock’s apparent inventor and primary distributor, claims which it has shipped 350 million supporters previously 130 years. But recently, an excellent 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 from their gym pants. I called Bike to ascertain if my observations reflected a greater truth. “Kids today are not wearing jockstrap sale,” answered spokesperson Jenny Shulman matter-of-factly.
The collapse with this 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 to the bicycle jockeys riding the cobblestone streets of Boston.” The manly wisdom which has prevailed in locker rooms for over a century is that wearing an athletic supporter protects you from obtaining a hernia. The doctors I spoke to informed me that’s “a classic athlete’s tale.”
“They sort of maintain the genitalia from flopping around, is the best I could possibly inform you,” says Dr. William O. Roberts, a past president from the American College of Sports Medicine.
Jocks offer no protection against the relatively common inguinal hernia, in which a portion of the gut descends throughout the canal containing the spermatic cord. In addition they won’t protect you against what’s known as the “sports hernia,” an agonizing tearing or weakness from the muscles or tendons in the pubis area that’s also known as “athletic pubalgia.” (On the other hand, the jockstrap apparently isn’t responsible for my high school bout with jock itch. The itching starts as soon as the warm, wet environment in that area allows the fungus Trichophyton rubrum to flourish. That could happen jock or no jock.)
Bike doesn’t make any hernia claims. Its position is that athletic supporters somehow “fight fatigue” and “prevent strain.” Indeed, jockstraps execute a fine job of holding your balls out of 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 reliable couple of form-fitting briefs probably will do the job equally well.
The ideal reason to use an athletic supporter is so that you can wear a protective cup. Once again, for the uninitiated: Jockstraps can be found in two flavors: plain, plus a form of marsupial version that accepts a removable cup made from hard plastic. A well-placed blow in this region is not only agonizing; it may destroy a testicle.
While many boys and men could get by without athletic supporters, far more must wear cups. Kids nowadays have helmets for practically everything-I wouldn’t be amazed to find out my sons using them for violin practice. But surprisingly few wear cups for sports, when 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 may explain the reasons eschew them even during situations that will seem to call for Kevlar.
I had heard that NFL players don’t wear cups but was still astonished when Joe Skiba, assistant equipment manager of the New York Giants, provided confirmation. “The majority of players believe less is a lot more, especially padding below the torso,” he explained via e-mail. “They believe that it hinders their speed and performance.”
Skiba states that many football players now sport a garment called compression shorts. Young amateurs just like the shorts, too, while they cost about twice as much as jocks. As outlined by Bike, which includes diversified its athletic undergarment portfolio within these jock-unfriendly times, these stretchy shorts provide support and “steady, uniform pressure” to hold the groin, hamstring, abdomen, and quadriceps muscles in place during “the twisting, stretching and pivoting dexjpky93 of the game or strenuous exercise.” They’re also expected to “fight fatigue by helping prevent vascular pooling.”
After I ran this by Dr. Roberts, he sounded skeptical. “In the event the short is compressing enough in order to avoid pooling of blood, does it not also prevent circulation of blood from below?” he asks. “Would this flow obstruction not cause calf fatigue and loss in lower muscle function?”
No matter whether they “fight fatigue,” it’s no real surprise that compression shorts are eating in the jock’s market share. The shorts are more at ease-Normally i thought jocks were a pain inside the butt-and a lot less embarrassing-looking.
But Bike thinks there’s snap in the old supporter yet. The organization is launching a line with new fabrics and styles they say will hit stores next year. They’re also set to debut the “Boxer Jock” and the “Brief Jock”-products with all the support of the jock without having the outdated appearance. After all, the Bike athletic supporter hadn’t changed in 30 years-right around the time I started wearing one. Nowadays, I simply wear briefs to a health club. All of the other stuff is just way too much of a stretch.