How helmets protect your head | Explained In Detail

Personal protection matters more than everything else whether you are concerned with an adventurous or a cautious undertaking. Out of the fundamental personal protective equipment, headgear is the most essential one on the account of brain injuries’ severity.

Since the brain is the organ that can be affected vulnerably in an event of an accident, it is of utmost importance to protect it by all means because its damage can lead to fatality eventually.

In due course, this article aims at portraying how helmets protect your head. Walking through the content, you will also get to know the physics of helmets that enable them to provide maximum protection to your head.    

How helmets protect your head?

When you hit something hard, the helmet encounters an intensive force that is dispersed on the outer shell instead of getting focused on a single point of impact. This pressure is further delivered to the inner soft foam that crashes due to dissipating the energy and absorbing the shock.

For the head, a very little magnitude of the force is left to cause concussion so the brain remains safe. This way, the inner liner, and outer shell reduce the impact for protecting the skull.  

To comprehend it deeply, it is valuable to know its structure giving profound details on the helmet’s working.

How do helmets work?

All kinds of head protective equipment have the sole purpose of preventing skull fracture because when it strikes the ground, the brain’s forward movement makes it hit the bones inside the skull causing damage. A brain injury is always susceptible to lead to death more than recovery. Even if someone is survived, he cannot recover earlier but rather suffer permanent damage in form of memory loss or abnormality.

This is why a hard outer shell is necessarily constructed along with an inner padding that collectively acts as a mechanical barrier between the skull and hard object.

Helmets are commonly used for riding, construction, mining, sports, military, and police force. They can be full face, half face, off-road, and modular.

The common things in the helmets made for risk protection are:

  1. Rigid outer shell
  2. Inner liner
  3. Retention system
  4. Ventilation

1. Force dispersing rigid outer shell:

This shell is made of hard materials commonly fiberglass, carbon fiber, Kevlar, ABS, and polycarbonate. The logic behind designing it like a strong exoskeleton with these materials is that it may not let the pressure reach the head directly and instantly but rather dissipate it on the wide surface area of the shell without cracking and deliver a very little magnitude to the head. Even an EPS liner does also receive a very little amount of energy.

2. Impact absorbing inner foam:

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam is used inside the safety helmet as a cushion that absorbs the shock transmitted by the shell. Since it tends to be soft, it can be crushed while handling the impact. The upshot is the extended stopping time of the head that in another case could undergo a severe wound.

To put it differently, without a helmet your head can stop earlier and get all the energy focused on a point of collision which will certainly show its effect in form of brain damage. A helmet has to resist it by not extending the head deceleration distance.

This is how helmets protect your head by creating two barriers between the head and object to take maximum energy and leave only a little for the brain.

Thicker foam is better because it can withstand high shock. In advance head protectors, a Mits (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology is also being introduced that enables the foam to act as a low-friction layer for redirecting the rotational force by rotating a bit in case of a crash. This helps further in keeping the head safe.  

Additionally, another advantage of the liner is the wicking of moisture of sweat that is obvious to prevail whilst wearing a helmet.

3. Retention system for fitting helmet properly:

Without straps, the helmet cannot fit well rather will keep moving around making it impossible to prevent an untoward situation. Thereafter, it is vital to be conscious of the fitting system that is usually provided in form of straps. Use the straps properly to tighten the headgear.

In the event of intolerable force, a chin strap can break away for releasing pressure. The buckles enable quick joining and releasing.

It is better to check out the size of the helmet by wearing it before buying. This will give you a better idea of its suitability for you.

4. Ventilation for deterring consciousness loss:

Without vents, you cannot survive in a helmet ergo it is quite important to be mindful of a proper ventilation system that will allow you to breathe finely and get the fresh air from outside.

This factor is concerned with riding helmets more than any other kind of helmet. Riding in a desert on a sunny day will inevitably cause you to sweat badly which is essential to be dealt with seriously or else you will burn out. For that reason, bicycle and motorcycle helmets are designed with proper vents.

You might be thinking that how helmets protect your head in regards to ventilation. In this context, this is to say that ventilation has a direct link with head protection in a way that shortness of breathing and excessive sweating cause suffocation and oxygen shortage that will not let the brain function properly and resultantly the consciousness will be lost shortly.

This situation will directly lead to accidents. So, vents’ inclusion is of great importance in the context of risk protection by the helmet.

Prefer a certified protective helmet:

An approved helmet reflects that it has gone through multiple stages of testing for quality intended for ensuring its maximum impact resistance and protection provision.

Hence its material, design, and durability are reliable. Would you still not consider helmet certification? Certainly, you will! Notably, a label is pasted on the product symbolizing its certifications.

Almost all the countries have made safety standards so manufacturers have to ensure compliance. Amongst various standards, ECE 22.05 standard is the most common and is used by almost fifty countries.

However, it is worth mentioning that having a helmet with no certification is better than having none because you will at least be secured.


This article has expressed profound details on how helmets protect your head which concisely demonstrates that the outer shell and inner liner are mainly responsible for skull protection.

To have a product of enhanced endurance, a certified helmet should be preferred over a local helmet that has no certification. Overlooking an approved helmet due to a cheap but uncertified one is certainly a safety risk.

However, this should be remembered that a head protector provides maximum protection not full protection because sometimes crashes are so severe that even a helmet is unable to mitigate the risk intensity.   

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