An athletic supporter, commonly referred to as a jockstrap, is a male undergarment intended to support and protect the male genitals. Some designs feature a small pocket in the front where a protective cup can be placed. The jockstrap was originally designed for use by bicycle jockeys, which is how the nickname developed. Proper athletic supporters are required by most leagues of football, soccer, baseball and other high-impact sports to prevent injury; however, many athletes are moving away from the traditional design.
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Testicular torsion is a rare problem that occurs when the testicle twists inside the scrotum. This cuts off blood flow through the spermatic cord and can result in death of the testicle. Testicular torsion is considered a medical emergency. Although torsion is a result of a congenital condition that leaves men without the connective tissue that supports the testicles within the scrotum, and it can occur at any time, athletic supporters may reduce the risk of injury.
The danger of blunt trauma is considered the main reason to wear a jockstrap. Many models allow for the placement of a hard, plastic cup that protects the testicles from impact. Blunt trauma to the testicles can result in a series of complications, including rupture and internal bleeding. Chris Woolston, M.S., in writing for HealthDay, also warns that trauma could even cause testicular torsion.
Requirements of the Sport
Jockstraps are available in a number of materials and cuts to allow for the best performance in various sports. Thick waistbands or moisture-controlling fabric may be unwanted or unnecessary to swimmers but desirable to football players. Many professional leagues no longer require the traditional jockstraps and allow for the use of alternatives.
Compression shorts are preferred by many professional athletes, because they provide support, moisture control and a more comfortable fit. Many compression shorts are also available with a pocket for a protective cup.