What Are Jockstraps?
Athletic supporters, also known as "jockstraps," have been around since 1874.
They were originally designed for use cyclists, who used to be called "bicycle jockeys" which is how the nickname "jockstrap" came to popularity.
There are many jockstrap brands that offer a variety of styles, but a standard jock strap is a type of mens underwear with a supportive front panel that is held in place by an two elastic straps and an elastic waistband (and yes, your rear-end is left open to the air).
Most jock straps have a pouch in front to hold a hard plastic cup, which can prevent serious injury in contact sports.
Why Do Men Wear Jockstraps?
The main reason men wear this form of mens underwear is the extreme danger of blunt trauma. It is a very unpleasant topic, but trauma to a man's delicate areas can result in many serious complications; rupture and internal bleeding are a few of the worst. That's definitely a reason to protect the family jewels.
Many men wear jockstraps even for non-impact sports, because they offer good support, multidirectional mobility, and they don't constrict one's legs like boxers and boxer briefs do.
Which Sports Require Jockstraps?
Mens jockstraps are a requirement in every high-impact sport league, including football, baseball, hockey, and soccer. Many athletes, however, are moving away from traditional jockstrap designs.
To meet the requirements of different sports, jockstraps are available in a variety of cuts and materials. For example, a football player may need a jockstrap with a thick waistband or moisture-wicking fabric, but this design would be unnecessary and problematic for a swimmer. As time goes on, fewer professional leagues require traditional jockstrap designs, and are allowing the use of alternatives.
Are There Disadvantages to Jockstraps?
"Disadvantage" might be the wrong word to describe jockstrap issues, because they all pale in comparison to an injury "down there."
With that said, it used to be much more common for all men to wear jockstraps. Because of this, nobody was particularly uncomfortable with their buttocks-exposing design. However, times have changed, and jockstraps are not as ubiquitous they once were. Many men dislike the idea of having their backside exposed when they change clothes in the locker room. Also, some people find the design uncomfortable; depending on your build, the bulky pouch has the possibility to chafe your skin.
Alternatives to Traditional Jockstraps
Many professional athletes now prefer compression shorts to traditional mens jockstraps. This is because compression shorts provide moisture control, support, and a comfortable fit. Many jockstrap brands offer versions of these compression shorts that come equipped with a pocket for a protective cup.
Should You Wear One?
Whether or not you should wear a jockstrap for your workout depends on your own personal preference, the other clothing that you're wearing, and the activity or sport in which you will participate. It's a good idea to wear one during any activity where there is risk to your most sensitive organs. If you're not sure whether you need a jock strap, consult a coach, a personal trainer, or a doctor.