Body piercing for sportsmen and women

Body piercing for sportsmen and women

Body piercings are a really fun was to modify your body and express your individuality. There are hundreds of different places on your body which can be pierced, and there are thousands of different styles of body jewellery to choose from.

Adult sportsmen and women need to think about a range of unique factors if they consider getting a new piercing. As a consenting adult, you should fully assess the risks and rewards before getting any piercings done. As a sportsperson, you should also consider whether the piercing is right for your pastime.

Knowing your body

As a sportsperson it is important that you understand your body properly. Many people underestimate the body’s ability to heal itself after an injury and depending on the type of piercing that you get, the body can heal itself quite quickly. Obviously this skill is not as desirable when you have arranged a body modification. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that a new piercing site will shrink and start to close up if the jewellery is taken out of its hole for just a few hours. If you play a seasonal sport, it may therefore be better to wait until the off season period before you get the piercing done.

Contact sports

Contact sports often require participants to remove all visible jewellery whilst they are participating in the sport. This is to protect the person with the piercing as well as anyone else who comes into direct contact with that person. Exposed jewellery can get caught against things, including hair and fabric.

The fast-paced, sudden movements which are involved in most contact sports means that if a participant’s jewellery does get caught in something, it is likely to do some damage. The piercing may end up tearing out of the hole which can be very painful. Even if this tear heals after the injury, it may not be possible to pierce the same area again in future.

Although rarely required, most other sports recommend that participants also remove all non-visible jewellery as well. Non-visible jewellery may still get caught up in sportswear and this could cause the piercing to tear out. Alternatively, if someone makes contact with the area where the piercing is, it can cause a lot of pain. The contact may even push the piercing inwards or sideways so that it is sitting in the wrong place. This can make it very difficult to remove and can cause a lot of damage to your body.

Non-contact sports

Wearing jewellery may be more acceptable in non-contact sports, although each participant is encouraged to consider their own position. The wearer should consider whether their piercing sits comfortably or whether it is going to catch on anything. Some piercings are likely to chafe during sports, especially if the participant is very active and required to do a series of repetitive movements.

Very serious sports participants (e.g. cyclists) may also want to consider whether their jewellery could be causing unnecessary drag.

If you do need to leave the piercings in whilst you are doing your sport (for example, if you have just had the piercing done and you cannot remove it for this reason) then you should make sure that you put tape over the jewellery. Special bandages can also be purchased that cover the piercing but also have antibacterial qualities which help to reduce the risk of infection in new piercing sites.

If you use tape or special bandages on a new piercing, you should remove it as soon as you are able to, because the wound needs to be able to “breathe” properly to encourage the healing process.

Some people are also able to wear retainers when they do sports. These retainers are much less obtrusive than standard pieces of jewellery are, but they help to keep the piercing hole open to prevent it from closing up. Retainers are not normally suitable for brand new piercing sites because they tend to be more porous than metal jewellery, which means that they can allow bacteria to enter the wounds.


Sportspeople should also carefully consider how their sporting lifestyle could affect a new piercing if they decide that they would like one. It is very important that a new piercing is kept clean and dry, to reduce the risk of infection. If you get wet as part of your sport, it is important that you delicately dry the piercing site after you finish. You should use saline solution to clean the area if you get sweaty as part of the activity.

Never touch a new piercing with dirty hands, as this can transfer bacteria to the wound site. Be aware that repetitive movements of your body whilst you are playing sport can irritate the wound site, which may mean that it takes much longer the heal.