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Frequently Asked Questions on Mask Wearing During Fencing or Other Exercise

Q: What is the purpose of wearing a face mask while fencing?

A: Mitigation of infection risk to other participants is the overall goal. Wearing a mask decreases the radius of respiratory droplets surrounding an individual and/or decreases the forward projection of respiratory droplets and or aerosols. The mask barrier also may absorb some respiratory droplets.

Q: Which masks should and should not be used when considering exercise of fencing?

A: The following is a list of masks that are and are not allowed to be used during competition:

  1. Two-layer cloth masks – Acceptable during competition
  2. Surgical masks – Acceptable during competition
  3. Sport facial masks – Acceptable during competition
  4. N95 mask – should NOT be considered being used during exercising or fencing. The N95 mask will protect the athlete; however, is suggested that it may restrict performance and health inadvertently.
  5. Leon Paul Face Mask Shield – Not allowed during competition
  6. Neck/face sleeves or gaiters – Not allowed during competition
  7. Masks with one-way valves – Not allowed during competition

Q: What type of mask do you recommend for use while fencing?

A: Within the guidelines listed above, individual fencers should determine what mask is best based on their personal comfort level and congruent with owner of the facility policy. All masks have their pros and cons and choosing the right one for you will take individual monitoring on how you feel during exercise. It is advised that athletes bring multiple masks to practice and competition to change when wet.

Q: How should you utilize a face mask in order to maximize protection from viruses?

A: Make sure that the mask is put on and tied appropriately to reduce the likelihood that you will need to adjust the mask while wearing. Remove the mask correctly after a workout, bout or competition by untying it from behind. Avoid touching the front or inner layers of the mask during use. After removing the mask, wash or sanitize your hands. Remember to wash your mask regularly, preferably iron it dry, and do not re-use masks designed for single use.

CDC Recommendations / Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear a mask or cloth face covering in public, especially in places where maintaining social distancing is difficult, like a grocery store or pharmacy. Several countries and some parts of the U.S. have made that practice mandatory. We don't know when those directives will end, and they could still be in place once gyms open again

Resources

Considerations for Wearing Masks: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html

COVID-19: How Much Protection Do Face Masks Offer?: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-mask/art-20485449

Effects of wearing N95 and surgical facemasks on heart rate, thermal stress and subjective sensations: 10.1007/s00420-004-0584-4

Exercising While Wearing a Mask: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/17/well/move/exercising-while-wearing-a-mask.html.

Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations: https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations

Prevention Precautions for People with Medical Conditions:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html

Returning to Sport Safely: https://www.childrensmercy.org/health-and-safety-resources/information-about-covid-19-novel-coronavirus/returning-to-community-activities/recommendations-for-a-safe-return-to-sport-and-physical-activity-after-covid-19/

The best breathable face masks for playing sports and exercising: https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/best-breathable-face-masks-sports-exercise-15338912.php

The right way to exercise with a face mask: https://www.cnet.com/health/how-to-exercise-with-a-face-mask/

Wearing a Face Mask While Working Out: https://about.underarmour.com/news/2020/06/expert-advice-wearing-face-mask-while-working-out