Why Do Wrestlers Wear Headgear? 

Why do wrestlers wear headgear?

If you are considering joining a wrestling team or getting started in wrestling you might have noticed that most wrestlers wear headgear. You might be wondering why they do this? Well, I can tell you it is not because they are comfortable. So then why do wrestlers wear headgear?

The reason that wrestlers wear headgear it to prevent cauliflower ear. Cauliflower ear is developed from blunt force trauma to one or both ears. This condition is very common in wrestling and is best prevented by wearing the proper headgear. 

Of course, even with headgear there still a chance of developing cauliflower ear. That said, it is unlikely, and wearing headgear is probably the best thing you can do to prevent it. That is of course excluding not wrestling in the first place. 

Even if you get a little bit of puffiness while wearing headgear you are still preventing most of the damage you would get if you did not protect your ears. Even if you like the look of cauliflower ear for some strange reason, there are other reasons you want to avoid getting cauliflower ear.

There are actually some pretty serious health conditions that can be caused by cauliflower ear. So you need to know what to do to best prevent it from happening in the first place. We will dive more into that later, but first, let’s talk about what cauliflower ear is and why it is so common in wrestling.

What Is Cauliflower Ear And Why Is It Common In Wrestling?

Though by its name cauliflower ear might seem harmless, but in reality, it can be a painful condition that can have long-term health consequences. Cauliflower ear usually develops after repeated blunt force trauma to the ear. That said, it can happen after just one incident if the trauma to your ear is substantial enough.

The name itself gives away the physical appearance of this condition. When blood begins to clot between the cartilage and the skin it forms into lumps. The lumps in actuality are hematomas and often resemble cauliflower when developed on the ears. 

Though cauliflower ear is closely associated with wrestling it can actually happen in many other ways as well. Often you will see this condition with boxers and rugby players as well. Though it is mostly associated with wrestlers and other grapplers such as people who train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

The reason it is so common in grappling is because of the nature of the sport. You are constantly rubbing your ears against your opponent or getting your head slammed to the mat. Or perhaps you will be constantly trying to pull your head out of a headlock. Either way, it is a recipe for continuous blunt for trauma to the ears.

Cauliflower ear can happen for a number of reasons. If you decide that you are going to begin wrestling, but you want to avoid this condition, then the best thing you can do is invest in proper headgear. There are plenty of reasons you are probably going to want to do that.

Why You Should Wear Headgear To Prevent Cauliflower Ear

There are a few things you can do to help prevent getting cauliflower ear. The best thing you can do is get some high-quality headgear. Wrestling headgear fits around the wrestler’s ears and protects the ears from unnecessary trauma. So it is your first line of defense to protect yourself from the negative consequences of cauliflower ear. Doing so will help you to prevent some of these common issues associated with cauliflower ear.

Avoid Permanent Damage And Surgery

If you do get cauliflower ear and do not treat it immediately, then it can to dead cartilage. There is usually only a window of time you will have after your ears begin to fill up with fluid before blood flow is cut off from the ear. This in return leads to the inability of fluids such as blood flow to get in and out of the ear. This, in turn, leads to dead cartilage and is usually permanent.

At this point, your only option to potentially heal the dead cartilage is with surgery. The surgery is typically pretty abrasive and can take up to 6 months to heal. Not to mention the fact that it will probably not be too cheap either. All of this can likely be avoided simply by wearing headgear when wrestling.

Hearing Problems And Potentially Even Hearing Loss

Cauliflower ear can lead to problems with hearing. Some wrestlers have even attributed cauliflower ear to their loss of hearing. This can potentially also lead to problems such as ringing in the ears. If your ears get swollen to the point where it is blocking your hearing pathways you can have some serious issues.

Not to mention the fact that you would not be able to wear headphones or easily clean out your ears with a cotton swab. It can also simply cause pain in your ears. Luckily I have not had much permanent damage done to my ears. That said, I have had some nights where I had trouble sleeping because my ears were throbbing with pain. I could not even put my ear to my pillow without causing pain.

Personal Life

Though I am not saying it is fair or justified, but cauliflower ear has been known to lead to certain prejudices. People with this condition have stated that they feel it has negatively impacted their life when it comes to things such as getting hired or in their dating life.

I am not saying that it is ok that this happens, but I would be lying if I said that I did not exist to at least some degree. So like it or not cauliflower ear might even have an impact or your personal and professional life. You can be the nicest guy in the world, but unfortunately, people still might judge you.

How Wrestlers Can Prevent Cauliflower Ear

Cauliflower ear is an issue in many sports, but most notably, it is an issue for wrestlers. It is always recommended that appropriate headgear is worn in any and all matches. In addition, you should also wear headgear when you are practicing as well. When you do this you are doing the best thing you can do to prevent cauliflower ear when wrestling. I know I sound like a broken record, but this really is the most important thing you can do. 

That said, there are still some chances that you can develop cauliflower ear even with headgear. If you get struck really hard or potentially get your headgear ripped off it could still happen. Also, it could even happen when you are not wrestling as well. It could happen by getting hit by a football or something else. Heck, it can even be caused by an infection on the ear lobe.

So if something does happen the best thing to do is seek medical help immediately by going to the proper doctor. The sooner the better because it will be much easier for your doctor to drain the ear if they are able to get to it quickly after it happens. In some circles, cauliflower ear might even be seen as a badge of honor. To them, it shows that you are not afraid to play hard and train hard.

But don’t let that mindset get the best of you. Trust me when I say that most people I talk to with cauliflower ear wish they did more when they were younger to deal with it. So wear your headgear when you train and when you compete. If by chance it still happens then seek medical help as soon as you can. It will certainly beat living with cauliflower ear for the rest of your life.

Best Wrestling Headgear

If you are new to wrestling it can be intimidating trying to figure out what kind of headgear to get. After all, there are so many options to choose from. In addition, there can be pretty big differences when it comes to the price range as well. My number one pick when it comes to getting the best bang for your buck is the Cliff Keen Fusion headgear. It is not the cheapest option but it is high quality and will last you a long time.

In addition, Cliff Keen Fusion comes in a variety of color options, which is especially great if your team competes in a specific color. This headgear is also pretty comfortable when it comes to wrestling headgear. In addition, it is much easier to put on and adjust than many of the older models were. Last but not least this headgear fits well and offers top-of-the-line protection.

Cliff Keen also offers a great product called the  F5 Tornado Headgear. This is another great option and might even be better suited for some athletes. It is great if you are looking for lightweight headgear that still offers great protection. In addition, this headgear is much easier to hear out of than many others are. 

Personally, I use the Matman Ultra Soft Wrestling headgear. That said, I roll in BJJ much more than I do wrestling these days. They are still great for wrestlers, however. The reason I like them is that they are very easy to put on and are softer than most other headgear. This is good when rolling hard in BJJ to help prevent you from harming your rolling partner. It also seems to be a bit better when trying to get out certain submissions where I need to pull my head out.

Either way, all three of these options are great. For pure wrestling, I would go with one of the Cliff Keen options. If you think you might cross-train in other grappling arts I would suggest getting the Matman. Or better yet get both, after all, you will probably want to invest in a few good options.

In Conclusion

There is no reason to get cauliflower ear if you can prevent it. That said, the most realistic way and the best way to prevent this is by investing in high-quality headgear such as the Cliff Keen Fusion. Of course, if you do happen to get swollen ears after training call a doctor and deal with it immediately. After all, you don’t want to have to suffer the potential consequences of cauliflower ear.

Preventing this condition is the reason many wrestlers wear headgear and why you should as well. For more on what kind of gear you need for wrestling check out my article: What kind of gear do you need for wrestling here! 




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