Concussions are a major concern in the sport of boxing, but do you know why it’s particularly bad for female boxers? While many people associate boxing with male athletes, the number of female boxers has been on the rise in recent years, with more and more women taking up the sport. However, despite the growing popularity of female boxing, little is known about the specific risks and effects of concussions on women. In this article, we'll take a look at what we do know about concussions in female boxers and what more research needs to be done in this area.
What is a concussion?
First, it's important to understand what a concussion is. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when the brain is jolted or shaken, often as a result of a blow to the head. Concussions can cause a wide range of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, memory loss, and difficulty with coordination and balance. In some cases, concussions can also lead to more serious long-term effects, such as chronic headaches, depression, and cognitive problems.
When it comes to female boxers, research on the effects of concussions is limited. However, some studies have suggested that women may be at a higher risk of concussions compared to men. One study, published in the Journal of Athletic Training, found that women were more likely to report symptoms of concussions, such as headaches and dizziness, after a head injury compared to men. Another study, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, found that women took longer to recover from concussions than men.
How do concussions affect women?
There are a few reasons why female boxers may be more susceptible to concussions than male boxers. One theory is that women may have less neck muscle mass than men, which could make them more vulnerable to head injuries. Additionally, women's brains may be more susceptible to injury because of hormonal differences. Estrogen, a hormone present in higher levels in women, has been found to increase the risk of brain injury.
Another reason that women may be more susceptible to concussions is due to the type of headgear used in women’s boxing. Men’s headgear is more padded and typically more protective than women's headgear, which may make women more vulnerable to head injuries. Headgear in general also generally leaves the jaw open, and shots to the jaw cause the most concussions due to their ability to whip the head around. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has recently made changes to headgear for female boxers in order to have more protection in their sport.
Why are women’s rounds only two minutes?
Because of these findings there are rules in boxing to protect the female fighters. The biggest one being the two minute rounds compared to the men's three minute rounds. While most people think having two minute rounds is due to sexism or women's “inability to fight for a full three minutes” it’s actually for safety. It prevents concussions. Along with all the reasons listed above dehydration and fatigue also can cause concussions. This is because it causes your reaction time to be slower. When you are fighting for three minutes instead of two you become more fatigued and more punches can land, possibly causing more concussions. The WBC (World Boxing Council) is one of the organizations that takes this rule very seriously, they have said they will not sanction any bout for women if rounds are scheduled for 3 minutes, and will not sanction any bout scheduled for 12 rounds.
More research is needed to fully understand the effects of concussions on female boxers. To date, most studies on concussions in boxing have focused on men (typical), and little is known about the specific risks and effects of concussions on women. In order to better understand and address the risks of concussions in female boxers, more research is needed that specifically focuses on women. This could include studies on the effects of different types of headgear on women, as well as studies on the hormonal and physiological differences between men and women that may make women more susceptible to concussions.
In the meantime, it is important for female boxers to be aware of the risks of concussions and to take steps to protect themselves. This includes wearing appropriate headgear, as well as being aware of the signs and symptoms of concussions and seeking medical attention if they occur. Female boxers should also be educated on the risks of returning to the ring too soon after a concussion and the long term effects of repetitive head injuries. And lastly, keep your hands up in the ring!