Lacrosse Rib Protectors
The ribs are responsible for protecting the heart and lungs, among a number of other organs, while also assisting in breathing. This protective body part needs some protection of its own given the violent nature of lacrosse. Rib protectors serve as protection for the rib cage from the violent impacts that happen as a result of checking.
What are rib protectors used for?
Rib pads are a piece of padded equipment worn around the lower area of the ribcage to provide protection below the area that shoulder pads typically cover. Rib pads are not required equipment for the game of lacrosse, but they are recommended for use by certain players. Attackmen are the primary player group that rib pads are suggested for given the beating they receive from defenders. Defenders are responsible for doling out brutal hits to prevent the opposing team from scoring, which means that they don't need the extra protection. Midfielders typically don't use rib protectors either as it just inhibits their mobility and they don't receive the same physical punishment that attackmen do.
Box lacrosse is a much more physical game than field lacrosse, so all players that play box lacrosse are recommended to wear rib protectors. These rib pads do restrict the movement of players, but it often provides some much needed protection as rib injuries take significant time to heal.
Things To Consider
When looking for a rib protector, you'll want to consider the following:
- What type of rib protector is most comfortable for you?
- How much do you want to spend on a rib protector?
- What size rib protector do you need?
- How much padding do you want your rib protector to have?
There are a few different types of rib protectors that all serve the purpose of protecting a lacrosse player's ribs, however they do it in different ways. We'll break down the benefits and drawbacks of each below.
Rib guards typically have a softer padding inside of them to offer protection without weighing down the players too much. These guards offer a balance of protection and mobility, which makes them a more popular choice for field lacrosse, but they can be used in box lacrosse as well. These pads tend to be breathable and wick moisture.
Kidney pads have a thick plastic coating in order to better protect the rib cage. These are the style of pads most commonly used for box lacrosse because they provide maximum protection, however this often comes at the cost of mobility. These pads are much thicker and heavier to protect players from bigger impacts.
Rib shirts provide some protection, while offering players maximum flexibility and mobility. These typically have a soft foam that minimizes the impact the player feels, but they don't eliminate it like stiffer padding could. This foam is often incredibly lightweight and designed to keep the player cool underneath all of their gear.
There are a number of different materials used in the production of rib protectors that all affect the durability, weight, and final price.
- Nylon: Nylon is a strong, durable, and lightweight material which makes it an excellent component for rib protectors. Nylon is commonly produced, making it relatively cheap.
- Polyester: Polyester is a man-made polymer that is strong and lightweight. Polyester is made by weaving together artificial fibers, so it has some unique properties that allow it to be durable, maintain its shape, and be water resistant, which is useful in the case of sweat.
- Polyethylene: Polyethylene is one of the most widely produced plastics in the world. It is lightweight and strong, but not as durable as other materials as it tends to fracture under stress.
There are several different brands that produce rib protectors, but to keep it simple we're going to look at 4 of the biggest producers: EvoShield, Maverik, STX, and Warrior.
- EvoShield: EvoShield is most well known for their rib shirts that are used across multiple sports. Their rib shirts have special technology that allows their shields to start soft before hardening after air exposure, in order to mold to the shape of your body. Their shields are extremely thin and focus on dispersing the impact instead of just absorbing it.
- Maverik: Maverik produces some of the most unique rib protectors on the market by offering rib pads that are small, but thick. These pads provide maximum protection in the most vulnerable areas, but do not provide much coverage beyond that. Their small size allows their pads to be lightweight and very mobile.
- STX: STX produces some of the most protective, but lightweight, rib protectors on the market. These rib pads combine soft padding and a hard plastic shell to offer maximum protection and mobility all at a reasonable price.
- Warrior: Warrior rib pads have a focus on remaining breathable and lightweight. These pads are often made of protective foam that allows it to shape to your body, so they are more comfortable than most other rib protectors.
Before you purchase your own rib protector you should consider a number of factors including the durability, cost, and size.
The frequency that you use your rib pads is likely going to be the largest factor in how long they last. Other factors, such as the style of pad, brand, and speed of impacts, can also have an effect on the durability of rib protectors. The more often you wear your rib protector and the more hard hits that it takes, the faster it is going to wear out. Like most protective equipment it should be replaced every few years to ensure it protects you properly.
Rib protectors have a wide price range that can be affected by the brand, materials, and style of pad. For the most part, rib protectors fall into a price range between $8 and $70. Rib protectors that provide more high quality protection tend to fall at the upper end of that price range, while smaller, more minimal protectors fall at the lower end of the range.
Rib protectors come in your typical extra small, small, medium, large, and extra large sizes, both for youth and adults. These sizes can typically be figured out by your age, although the best way to find a perfect fitting rib protector is by trying several on. By trying on several different rib protectors, you can best see which ones allow you to move around the easiest while offering the protection you desire.
How much do rib protectors cost?
Rib protectors can cost anywhere in the $8-$70 range. The rib protectors that have a wider area of protection and thicker, more advanced protective shields tend to cost more, while more minimalist pads cost less. This makes sense as more padding costs more to produce. With rib pads being an optional piece of equipment, many players may not be looking to spend big money on them
What positions in lacrosse wear rib protectors?
Attackmen are typically the only players on a lacrosse field that need to wear rib protectors, as they take a lot of punishing checks from defenders. Midfielders are tasked with moving a lot on the field, and they aren't at risk for nearly as much contact, so they rarely choose to wear rib pads. Defenders are usually the ones doling out hits, so they don't have much of a need for rib pads either. Almost all box lacrosse players do wear rib protectors as the box game is much more physical and violent, so more protection is required for all players.
What are the benefits of wearing a rib protector?
The benefit of wearing a rib protector is that it helps keep your ribs, and the organs your ribs are guarding, safer. Your ribs are responsible for protecting a number of the body's organs and assisting in the process of breathing, but they are not invincible. Rib injuries tend to be painful and require long periods for recovery, so rib protectors provide some extra protection to a part of the body that is exposed to many high-speed impacts in the game of lacrosse.