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How to Reduce Paintball Pain: 15 Effective Tips

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The first thing you will learn about paintball is it can get very painful, especially if you’re not prepared. It’s understandable for a beginner to feel intimidated during their first match. Not all pain is bad and could be the road to getting stronger.  As the saying goes, ‘no pain, no gain’.

Here are 15 effective tips to reduce the pain in a game of paintball and make your experience more memorable.

1. Change Your Perception of Pain

The first thing you need to do is to stop fighting or fearing pain. Come to terms with the pain and accept that it is a part of your overall paintball experience. The anxiety of pain will hold you back from realizing your true potential on the field. Accepting the pain will help you fight when the going gets tough. Psychological tension only leads to muscular tension that leaves you prone to injury and lowers your threshold for pain.

You can create a diversion the pain to not feel anything when you’re hit. Research shows that dissociation is a powerful psychological tool that can be used to suppress your perceived pain. One such tool is music to help you power through the pain. If the going gets too tough however, you may find solace by focusing on maintaining proper form and breathing. There are certain breathing techniques that leverage rhythmic cognitive behavior to relive nerves, tension, and pain.

2. Wear a Paintball Mask

When it comes to paintball, you are most likely to get sun damage on your head and neck due to sun exposure. Make sure to wear a paintball mask suitably designed to provide protection from both paintball pellets and the environment around you. A good paintball mask does not have to cost you money or performance. Many paintball fields give you rental masks for protection, but there is a high chance of them not being the right fit for your face.

You are much better off buying a paintball mask designed to fit your face. The mask should have an anti-fog visor with additional room for glasses (also known as OTG masks). The visor needs to be durable enough to withstand the impact of fast approaching paintball pellet and not crack. Any paintball splatter should be contained on the visor and not leak into the eyes.

It is also vital that you’re able to breathe when wearing the mask. Poor respiration can lead to the buildup and accumulation of fog on your visor, leaving you blinded to the actions of the other team. Since you’ll be moving very fast in paintball, you will need the mask to be extremely durable in case you end up colliding with obstacles and the other player. The mask should absorb the impact of head on collisions, leaving your head, face, and eyes completely protected.

3. Wear a Headband

If you’re not a fan of full face paintball masks, consider investing in an affordable paintball headband instead. A headband provides cushioning against incoming paintball pellets and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

If you’re not the kind of person who wishes to play paintball year round, then it may not be worthwhile to invest in a full-fledged paintball gear such as paintball masks. A headband is a cost-effective way of safeguarding yourself from head injuries.

Just make sure to avoid winter hats because they tend to get hot and don’t offer the kind of padding that a headband, beanie, or even knitted caps can provide. Bonus points if the headband comes with camouflage.

4. Paintball Jersey

Paintball jerseys are a great way of keeping you safe and looking good. They are strategically equipped with padding to protect your upper body from paintball shots.

Good paintball jerseys feature minimalist designs that are durable, lightweight, and allow complete mobility. Some manufacturers build elbow pads and chest pads into the jersey to save you the hassle of buying aftermarket gear.

Make sure the paintball jersey has a v-neck collar that lets you get your head through but doesn’t leave your neck exposed to paintballs. This means that even with all the padding, the v-neck should stretch to accommodate your head but then come back down without getting deformed in the process.

It also goes without saying that the jersey should be made from a light breathable material to keep your skin warm and look cool as well as easy to clean.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to jerseys is that they should have comfortable padding in all the right places while not restricting your freedom of movement.   

5. Paintball Pants

Paintball pants will provide protection to the lower half of your body. Normal pants with standard thickness may not be enough to protect your skin from paintball pellets. During the course of your gameplay, you will most likely be crawling and crouching, which means your pants will come in contact with sharp objects on the ground.

Normal pants will undergo a lot of wear and tear that could become a serious issue if your paintball game is organized at recreation areas like forests with thick bushes.

If this happens to be the case, you will require a relatively thick pair of paintball pants. It should provide adequate protection to sensitive areas of the body such as the knees, legs, thighs, and groin area.

Most paintball pants come with built-in padding, but you may be required to buy separate knee-pads and groin cups as extra protection.

In order to stay competitive in a game of paintball, you should be able to climb, crawl, dive, kneel, and slide during an average session. Good paintball pants are made of stretch mesh panels that allow ease of movement and breath-ability to let your skin breathe. Some manufacturers place laser cut holes on the front and back to provide ventilation to your skin. This improves air circulation and minimizes humidity inside the pants.  

6. Groin Cup Protection

Groin protection is good for both genders and should be used extensively in paintball. Although paintball pellet shots to the grin are rare, they can be a cause for tremendous pain upon impact and could leave you with a bitter experience of paintball games as a whole.

Many people dislike wearing groin protectors because of a poor fit. If the groin cup is too tight, the elastic straps may cut off circulation and restrict movement. They may feel uncomfortable and bulky because many people are not used to wearing protectors in that part of the region.

However, it is extremely important to protect your groin area because they are strong, durable, and excellent shock absorbers on a microscopic level. High-end models make use of tiny gas pockets that can adapt and absorb the impact of paintball pellets as they hit.

Expensive models may even use carbon fibers to dissipate the energy out to the sides so that the groin cup has less shock to absorb. A groin cup can go a long way in providing protection against accidental or unexpected shots to the groin.

7. Paintball Footwear

Since you’ll be running a lot during game-play, it makes sense to invest in appropriate footwear that offers proper ankle support. The shoes should have soles with a tread design to give you strong grip and support when you’re performing those extra-evasive maneuvers.

There is a lot of leeway when it comes to choosing the right footwear, you can go for hiking boots, running shoes, or trail runners.

Try to buy shoes with cleats because their rubber spikes will provide extra support when you run around the turf and grass. Quality shoes should provide you ample ankle support with high-end cushioning systems, supportive gels in both forefoot and rear foot of the shoes.

This keeps your feet comfortable throughout the game and allows you to stand for extended periods of time. Good paintball footwear distributes the weight of your body along the entire foot.

Make sure your shoes have extra padding for shock control and feature complete leather front insole covering to not only help you run with ease but also absorb the impact of paintball pellets.

8. Chest Protector

Your chest has a larger surface area with several hit points including the neck, chest, diaphragm, pelvis, and abdomen. It is exposed to paintball pellets from all directions because you are standing upright and facing your opponent with the chest.

Extended periods of game-play with paintball can leave your chest prone to injury. This is where a chest protector comes in. Ideally, it should be lightweight to not overburden you and ensure your mobility in all directions.

The chest protector should provide neck, back, and front protection. It should be made from a breathable material that promotes the proper circulation of air to prevent the buildup of moisture.

9. Elbow Pads

Most people don’t think twice about the funny bone when playing paintball. But without this crucial joint, it would be impossible to perform many daily activities. The elbow uses three bones to make its action possible. Even if one of these bones gets injured, you would be rendered immobile.  

Good quality elbow pads provide you with the protection you need without hindering movement. They should be outfitted with body mapped pads to keep weight to a bare minimum.

The material used for elbow pads should be breathable, comfortable, padded, and durable enough to protect you while giving you the option to get the right fit and style for you. Most elbow pads fit snugly in place and can be adjusted according to your requirements.  

10. Knee Pad

During a game of paintball, you will do many evasive maneuvers such as diving and sliding. One miscalculated move could lead to a knee injury. This is where knee pads come in.

They keep you from damaging your bones and protect surrounding muscles. Studies have shown that people who wear knee pads are able to reduce their knee injuries.

There are many types of knee braces to choose from. These include knee sleeves, knee pads, and hinged knee braces. They all have one thing in common: thick padding to protect your knees from paintball pellet impact.

The knee’s structure is particularly susceptible to injury because there are so many muscles, tendons, bones in place that you’re at risk of losing normal knee function if something goes wrong.

11. Gloves

A fast paced, exciting game of paintball can get very physical very quickly, especially if paintball pellets hit your hands.

The wrist is made of 8 small bones known as carpal bones. Together they allow for increased flexibility and freedom of movement.

These bones are particularly prone to injury because of their relatively frail composition in comparison to other bones in the body. It is entirely possible to sprain your wrist without adequate protection.

Given the physical nature of paintball, it is best to brace your wrist with gloves that help you deal with pain in the wrists. Make sure the wrist wear literally fits your hand like a glove.

12. Warming Up

Professional athletes know the importance of warming up before any physical activity. Doing warm up increases your body’s temperature and improves blood flow throughout your muscles and tendons.

This reduces the risk of injuries because the muscles act as excellent padding for your skeleton. When you warm up, your muscles become better at absorbing shock and preventing injuries.

Warming up also sends crucial signals to your muscles that it’s time to get physical.

This helps minimize injuries and keeps you in the game for longer. To warm up, simply jog around the paintball field and do a few stretches.

13. Take NSAIDs

Most sports and fitness enthusiasts habitually take NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen or tylenol or aspirin before participating in sports and exercise. The same applies to paintball because things can get action-oriented very fast.

NSAID prevents the body from producing prostaglandins, a substance that regulates blood pressure, protects the stomach lining, and triggers inflammation to an area that has been injured (which is the root cause of pain, swelling, discomfort, and redness).

One downside is that NSAID's only mask the impact of pain and don’t prevent injury. If anything, they could promote recklessness on the field because you’re now a bullet sponge with high tolerance for pain.

NSAID's provide the much need relief to players with naturally low tolerance to pain, particularly when they suffer from body aches right after play.

14. Hydration

Optimum levels of hydration can reduce the risk of injury, muscle fatigue, and pain. As the game becomes progressively more intensive, you will notice your body temperature rising.

The body compensates by sweating to dissipate the excess heat. Prolonged sweating can lead to dehydration that could cause cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke.

The effect is more pronounced if you’re playing during a particularly hot day.  The amount of fluids you need depend on each session of paintball, intensity of gameplay, your body size, and environmental conditions.

Extended levels of gameplay require more water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

15. Nutrition

Most paintball injuries on the field are a result of nutrition imbalance because people don’t usually focus on their diet. Poor dieting can cause a laundry list of problems with the bodies including knee pain, tweaked backs, pulled muscles, and so on.

When the body is this vulnerable, a relatively minor hit from paintball pellets will cause grievous injury including significant inflammation, and even long-term damage.

Good diet includes provisions for bone health. The food should contain plenty of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc to build strong bones that are less prone to injury. Zinc is an important mineral that ensures your muscles and tissues heal fast in the event of an injury.

It also plays an important role on your immune system. Good sources of zinc include lentils, brown rice, red meat, and turkey.

Try sticking to green leafy vegetables, seeds, raw nuts, salmon, and whole-grains to help you meet your nutritional needs.

How Painful Are Paintball Pellets?

It’s not all just hysteria. Even though paintball pellets lose their shape and structure upon leaving the barrel of the marker, they pack enough energy to leave more than just a bruise on exposed skin.

Paintball pellets can cause grievous injury that could cause life-long disability if you’re not careful. Even a heavyweight MMA athlete will feel the sting of paintball pellets traveling at breakneck speeds of over 300 feet per second.

The amount of pain also depends on where you get hit. Getting hit on bony areas is more painful because there is less muscle to absorb the shock of pain. Getting hit on exposed skin will hurt even more.

As a general rule, wear several layers of padding to minimize the pain of paintball pellet. The more exposed flesh you can cover up, the better.

All players should be equipped with masks, goggles, helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, and groin protectors for optimum. And as always, consult your paintball field staff to know of any extra rules of safety they have in place for your protection.  

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