Everyone likes to come to BJJ happy and healthy and leave the same way! We do as much as we can to help ensure that happens every day, for every student. Additionally, it’s also important to be aware about some best practices surrounding some potential skin conditions that may be trying to creep up on you from time to time. It’s self-defense… at the microscopic level! 😊
At the school we clean the mats daily with an EPA approved disinfectant that is a Cleaner, Disinfectant, Fungicide, Mildewstat, and Virucide (I think it will even kill Vampires, Werewolves, and will possibly even destroy Horcruxes, all while simultaneously being 100% safe for us humans- win!). Because we train in such close contact with our partners, I’d like to share a few extra tips and reminders to help you stay happier, healthier grapplers! While there is no 100% fool-proof way to stop every possibility of exposure, a series of good habits and preventative measures can greatly reduce your risk of potential illness! As always, if you have any questions about something health-related, please consult with a medical professional for a proper assessment.
There are a few skin conditions that can potentially show up a little more often among those doing mat-related activities (like wrestling, martial arts, yoga, etc.). Being aware of what you can do to help prevent them will keep you chances of losing any mat time as small as possible.
BEST PRACTICES FOR KEEPING IT CLEAN
Here are some pointers to help reduce the likelihood of having to deal with a skin issue.
- Shower after class– This is the #1 recommendation that I can make! Be sure you take a shower as soon as you get home, using antibacterial soap to get rid of any germs that may be hanging around after your training session.
- Always wear a clean gi– using the same gi for multiple days without washing it is a big no-no. We are doing physical activity, and the gi acts as an incubation chamber for critters, so make sure all you gear (rash guard, gi, etc.) gets washed after each session, just like you! 😊 If you want to be extra-squeaky clean behind the lapels you can add a bit of color-safe bleach and/or a cup of white vinegar to the wash.
- Limit skin exposure on the mat– if you have any skin abrasions or cuts, wearing a long sleeve shirt, gi, or rash guard limits the amount of skin that comes in contact with other participants or training equipment, which provided an extra layer of protection between your skin and any bacteria that may be hanging about.
- Be aware of sneaky places where bacteria and germs may be hiding:
- Your bag- if you keep your spare gi/ shirt/ towel/ etc. in the same bag that you carry your regular gi back and forth to class in, it comes in contact with the sweaty dirty one when you go home and germs are just as happy to grow on a gi you haven’t trained in if they can jump on it. Maybe just carry the dirty one in your hand or put it in a plastic bag after class to prevent cross-contamination.
- Your support braces- ankle braces, knee braces, etc. should be disinfected regularly as well since they are in contact with your skin and other participants at class. If it gets sweaty, it needs to be cleaned.
- Your feet- you pick up germs wherever you walk, so if you leave the mat, be sure to put on sandals or shoes. Especially if you want to go to the restroom!
- Be aware of at-risk locations– Often times, you may get a little cut or scrape at BJJ, but pick up supplemental germs or infections from other places. If you have an open cut, make sure to keep it covered if you are out and about.
- Your fitness center! (including saunas and hot tubs)- they have the disinfectant wipes there for a reason…
- Your training location at your home- even though you may the only one training there, you should disinfect it from time to time as well. You can infect (or re-infect) yourself if you don’t keep the bacteria levels down!
- When participating in other athletic activities- anything that involves contact with others provides opportunities to share germs.
- When doing yard work outside- some fungi, like Ringworm, can be transmitted through animals or soil as well as human-to-human contact.
- Doctor’s office/ hospitals- it’s where everybody goes when they have a lot of germs bothering them after all!
As we mentioned earlier, if you are participating in a contact sport, there is always some risk of contracting a sports-related illness, but the goal is to make the chances as small as possible. I’ve been on mats for almost 25 years, and being a bit of a germophobe has worked out pretty well in my favor- I’ve only had one instance of a skin-related issue that kept me off of the wrestling mat for only a few days. If you have any question about what something is or may be, please consult a medical professional for treatment. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”