Preventing Skin Injury and Infections In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Be Safe. Be Clean. Stay On The Mats...
We take a lot of time to talk about joint health, and back health in jiu-jitsu, but not a lot of time is spent on protecting the largest organ in your body, your skin. While keep our joints healthy is important, skin care is a just as important, or even more important subject to our health in this sport.
Have Your Forgotten About The Crucifix Position? Not Anymore! Click Learn More below!
Skin infections are common in combat sports, particularly in wrestling and jiu-jitsu. There is a lot of person to person contact, and plenty of pathways to pass infection from person to person. We need to take steps to protect ourselves, and others.
Preventing Skin Injury
Protect your skin. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Protecting your skin is the first line of defense. Cuts and open wounds are what allow certain injections (particularly staph) into our bodies. Here are a few ideas on how we can prevent skin injury, that can lead to infection:
- Keep nails trimmed and clean. This is a no brainer, and I am sure (and would hope), is pounded into your head when you start jiu-jitsu. Have a nice set of both nail and toe clippers (big one and small one), at the house, and I like to keep a small pair in my gym bag, or car. Use a nail file also. This removes any “burrs” or sharp edges created when clipping. If you have a job where your nails become dirty often, invest in a nice nail scrub brush to keep yourself clean. Keep one in the shower, and one in your gym bag. This is a cheap investment, but the best way to prevent skin injury.
- Use lotion. This may seem silly, or trivial, but using lotion on your skin gives it moisture, pliability and better protects it against cuts, abrasions, and cracking. This is particularly important in the cold winter months of certain parts of the world, as the dry cold air can wreak havoc on our skin. Pay attention to our BJJ “high traffic” areas, such as hands, arms, feet, neck and face. Use a name brand (or equivalent) lotion that is designed for skin health. While some faux galleria scented lotions can help, they are typically not of high quality like the lotions designed for skin care.
- Wear long sleeves or spats. You can cover your skin to prevent cuts, abrasions and contact with the purchase of a long sleeve rashguard and/or spats. Some people do not like to cut their nails, and some mat surfaces can be rather damaging to skin. Covering your skin with clothing can help reduce the potential for skin injury.
I got a cut/scrape/abrasion/open wound. Now what?
- Identify where it came from. Did you scratch yourself? Well, shame on you. Did someone scratch you? Well, notify them that they need to cut their nails. Do not make it mean or awkward, just be informative and respectful. Did the mats tear you up? See suggestions 2 and 3 above for help. Know how it happened, and work to prevent it next time.
- Keep it clean and dry. Use the appropriate sized bandage for the wound, and use a triple antibiotic ointment (Neosporin) to prevent infection. Wash with warm water and gentle soap once a day. Let it air dry, and apply a new, clean bandage. Keep an eye on it. If it gets sore or looks strange, best bet would be to see a medical professional.
- If you cannot successfully cover it, if it is a large cut, or it is still bleeding, stay off the mats. This should be common sense, but it is not sometimes. People love to train. Any open wound needs to be covered before you are back on the mats. Use an appropriate bandage, and double up on the protection with sports tape. During training, if you cannot keep your wound covered and clean, it is time to leave the mats. Be wary of protecting yourself, and others.
Beautiful Setups From The Forgotten CRUCIFIX Position! Click Learn More below!
Preventing Topical Skin Infections
These are infections we can get without an open wound. These include fungal and bacterial skin infections such as ringworm, Athlete’s foot, impetigo, and others. Below are a few ways we can successfully prevent such infections:
- Shower after class. Do not waste time here, as an immediate shower is what is needed to prevent infection. Take a warm shower, and wash your entire body with a clean washcloth/mesh scrub, and an antibacterial soap. There are many soap companies that make products that are designed for after training cleaning, and they all work great. Just remember to wash well, and do so as quick as possible after training.
- Keep your gear clean. Wash your gi (this DOES INCLUDE YOUR BELT!!!) everytime you use it. Do not let it sit. Throw it in the washer right when you get home, right before your shower. Same goes for your shorts, rash guards, compression shorts, socks, anything you wear when you are at the gym. Keep it all clean any dry. Also, be sure to wash your gear bag. It can get stinky and nasty also, and can harbor bacteria and fungus.
- Be sure your gym’s mat area is clean. Sometimes, easier said than done. But, for me, I have made it a point to want to be involved with the cleaning of the mats at my gym. This lets me know that it is being done properly, and I know that it is getting done. Go ahead and ask to help, I am sure your gym mates would enjoy it. Also, if you have a concern, be sure to bring it up. Do not be afraid to be the voice that keeps everyone at the gym healthy and happy.
I hope this short guide helps. These are just a few suggestions. We all want to stay on the mats, and skin infections can knock us out quick if we are not aware of them, and are making strives to prevent them. Be aware, be clean, and be safe out there!
The crucifix position is pretty uncommon, but a very powerful position! Thomas Lisboa is here to teach you his concepts on the position. Check out his DVD "Cruci-fixing - 30 Easy Setups and Finishes From This Forgotten Position". Check it out here!