The Painful Side of Sports: Unsafe and Safe Sports for Your Face

man pitching baseball

Injuries are prevalent among athletes. When you think of a sports-related injury, torn ligaments and fractured bones are the things that typically come to mind. But what about facial injuries? Have you ever considered that playing a sport can ruin your good looks?

Despite their protective gear, many hockey players and boxers still come out of a tournament bloodied. If not a head injury, it’s a missing tooth that they have sustained. Though facial injuries can be fixed, they can leave a horrible scar or, in severe cases, cause permanent disfigurement. For an athlete at the height of their career, that can affect their morale and confidence in playing their sport.

If you’re starting to take an interest in a risky sport, mind these safe and unsafe sports for your face:

The Least Safe Sports

1. Basketball

Some of the most gruesome injuries in sports history happened to basketball players. But thankfully, those injuries didn’t affect the athletes’ faces. Still, basketball leaves your face, head, and neck vulnerable. If your opponent accidentally elbows your face, your nose might break or your tooth might fall off.

Sure enough, basketball and baseball account for the most incidents of sports-related dental injuries in children 7-17 years old. So don’t focus on protecting your limbs alone when playing this sport. Protect your teeth as well with a mouthguard and your eyes with activity-specific eye guards. The exposed parts of your head will still be vulnerable, though. So if you can’t stand the idea of a crooked nose bridge or a permanent scar on your forehead, consider another sport.

2. Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing doesn’t just put your face at risk of injury; it can also put your life in danger. Between 2015 and 2016, 39 skiers and snowboarders have died. That number may be low considering the total number of people who ski or snowboard yearly, but still, that’s 39 deaths too many. If you’re inexperienced in the sport, you can easily lose control while hurtling down a steep slope.

You’d be lucky if you only get a dental injury while skiing or snowboarding. An appointment with an emergency dentist will fix you up and get you ready for the sport again in no time. But you have to be extremely careful to avoid another injury. Being reckless may worsen the injuries you might get.

3. Ice Hockey

Rather than your face, it’s your brain that ice hockey can put at risk. This sport causes the most concussions, affecting 31% of the nearly 10,000 players it injures every year. Though ice hockey players must wear protective headgear, repeated head contact with other players can still cause a hard impact. If you’re willing to overcome that risk, try to limit head contact, and your face will stay unharmed, your features intact.

4. Mixed Martial Arts

The name of this sport alone should make you a little protective of your face. Every fight probably causes a bloody nose, a black eye, or a fractured jaw. Clearly, it’s not for someone who takes pride in their good looks. If you’re willing to look past that fact, you should learn moves that prevent your opponent from smacking your face.

5. Boxing

There’s hardly a boxing match that doesn’t end up with at least one opponent sustaining facial injuries. Thankfully, a mouthguard can keep your teeth intact, but it won’t protect the rest of your face. It’s not uncommon for boxers to get head or facial stitches afterward due to the heavy blows they received.

kid wearing a baseball helmet

The Safest Sports

All sports can risk damage to your facial features, but the following has the lowest risk for that:

1. Swimming

Swimming is a low-risk, high-reward sport. If you train hard and make it your career path, you can make it to the Olympics and make your country proud — all while maintaining an intact face and well-toned body.

2. Long-distance Running

Running effectively builds strength and endurance without risking your face. Just don’t go over your limit without training, or you might fall on your face and sustain a serious injury.

3. Gymnastics

Despite the scary flips and aerial twists gymnasts do, the sport is pretty safe for the face. But you have to train hard to maintain your balance and strength; otherwise, a fall could lead to a facial injury. But in most cases, gymnasts’ faces are safe from injuries.

A dedicated athlete may not value their looks over their bodies, but there’s nothing wrong in preserving your good looks if that’s important for your well-being. Besides, great athletes become celebrities, so facial care becomes inevitable at the peak of their careers.

Whatever the sport you pick, do exercises that’ll boost your strength and balance, such as yoga and the fitness regimen your coach has given you. Know your limits as well. If you don’t feel healthy and strong, you can take a break or even sit out a competition. No medal is worth a permanently disfigured face or a series of broken bones.

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