Pectus Excavatum and Contact Sports [2023]: Bar Displacement

Written by Mihail Veleski

Last updated on

Evidence-Based This post has medical citations

I intensely played many contact sports, such as basketball and soccer, and I’ve been hit in the deepest part of my sunken chest many times. Although it may seem awkward, it isn’t any different from getting hit in other areas.

It takes a few hits to realize there is nothing to be afraid of. I believe this shouldn’t be a reason to avoid contact sports. There are also stories from others with pectus excavatum who discuss their experiences participating in several contact sports on a few online communities.

They also claim that the discomfort is not that bad if you accidentally get hit in the dent. This should encourage young people to prefer sports rather than be terrified.

What are contact sports?

Simply said, contact sports are those that involve physical contact between players.

Collision sports are also part of that category. Such examples can be boxing, ice hockey, and American football.

In contact sports, the athlete constantly stays in physical contact with other players but with lesser force than in collision sports. Basketball and soccer are such examples.


In addition to getting hit by other players, these sports include various other risks, such as hitting the ground and water. However, the most considerable risk is that a person with pectus excavatum with Nuss bars inside the chest is being hit by a strong co-player in moments of carelessness.

Such sports can be hazardous and can lead to injuries in a lot of parts of the body. But the benefits of playing such sports are endless.

For Pectus

The risk of chest injury or pain from a strong and negligent blow can be frightening for pectus excavatum sufferers participating in contact sports.

Some possible forms of injuries that can affect your sunken chest are:

Broken ribs

It usually happens after a forceful strike to the chest with an elbow. Breathing will feel unpleasant, and a specific location on the ribcage will be very tender. Because the fracture could cause internal injury, obtaining medical care is necessary.

Rib contusion

Rib contusion pain might be due to back or neck disorders. Although you will feel the pain in the chest, the source of the problem could be in the upper (thoracic) spine.

Side stitch

That is a typical condition that causes pain on one side of the abdomen, towards the lower ribs. Many people experience this while participating in sports that involve a lot of running.

Cardiac chest pain

This condition is not very common, but athletes with pectus excavatum should be aware of it. Because when symptoms of acute chest pain are present, the cause of it can be unknown, and you may fear that it’s related to your deformity.

Muscles can cause pain but indicate a more significant heart condition, especially in young athletes.

How to avoid injuries in contact sports POSTOPERATIVELY

If you’re playing a friendly match, tell your teammates and the opposing players that you have undergone sunken chest deformity surgery and have bars inserted in your chest without being ashamed. Tell them there is a risk of bar displacement. This is the first step.

But, even though everyone on your team will be aware of your situation, you are the one who needs to take the most care of yourself. So, always keep an eye on the other players close to you.

Communication during the game is essential to avoid getting hit badly during the game.

The most important rule 

 Don’t play if you are unwell or worried about getting hurt. Although it might be tempting, it’s not a good idea to play your favorite sport before you’re ready mentally. Jumping in too soon might cause an even more significant injury and prolong your absence from the game.

Consult a doctor if necessary and follow the recommendations on how soon you should start playing again.

Successful athletes in contact sports with pectus excavatum

Regardless of the disadvantages of sports caused by the deformity, it’s encouraging to know that there are athletes with the same pectus excavatum malformation as we have who succeed massively in their sports.

Many MMA, boxing, and other contact sports competitors have broken down the barrier and prejudice that this deformity might be a restriction.

That indicates that our life difficulty is not limited to participating in contact sports. Working on yourself, dedication, and a desire to improve your situation may all lead to success.

Contact sports in kids with pectus excavatum

It is preferable to take the initiative in the early years of the child’s life to start with contact sports. That will be a healthy decision, and your kid will start living an active lifestyle that includes participating in sports while meeting many new friends.

If you’re afraid of contact sports, start with safer activities, like swimming.

Contact sports after PECTUS SURGERY

You must respect the recovery period following surgery, but remember that your athletic activities do not end forever.

The time it takes to return to sports will depend on various things, including the treatment and method of treating your deformity, the type of sport you participate in, and how you care for yourself.

But, when it comes to contact sports, that may require a more extended period, usually around twelve weeks.

You can do activities such as running, swimming, or yoga in as little as 4-6 weeks if you are making good progress, but your doctor must confirm that.

Six weeks post-surgery, increase your physical activity level by engaging in easy movements that will benefit your recovery process. You can lift and carry a few pounds, yet you still should avoid weightlifting.

Twelve weeks post-surgery, you can enjoy any physical activities and sports.

In the case of potentially dangerous sports, you should be careful and contact your doctor for additional advice if these sports are meaningful to you.

However, it would help if you had extreme carefulness regarding contact sports.

You have to be extra careful in that post-operative period because the bar may be displaced or moved, which can cause additional problems and prolong your recovery.

So, you must avoid risks by limiting physical activities during that healing period because any unexpected twisting movement can be dangerous.

Non-operative treatment BENEFIT

I recommend a non-surgical treatment plan if you want to play these sports without restrictions. There won’t be any post-operative recovery period which will make you absent from your sport for a few months.

Also, there won’t be any risk of potential chest injury or bar dislocation, which can be very complicated.

The non-operative treatment is much easier to sustain mentally as well as physically. You can take off the vacuum bell before playing and put it on when you’re finished.

You will continue to live your everyday life as if nothing changed without feeling lonely or cut off from your favorite sport, especially during the post-operative period.

Bottom line

Despite the potential risks, I continue to be a dedicated supporter of contact sports for people with pectus excavatum. They provide much more than just physical benefits.

These sports are a fantastic way to socialize and meet new friends on and off the court. In addition, they can encourage the development of numerous other critical motor abilities in the human body.

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Article by:

Mihail Veleski

I am Mihail Veleski, the person behind this website. Established in 2015, Pectus Excavatum Fix has helped thousands of people improve their sunken chest deformity, both physically and mentally. I pride myself on ensuring the information and methods I share are tried by me and backed by research. I improved my concave chest and rib flare deformities non-surgically.

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