This is one of the most serious topics when it comes to keeping people on the mat and training. As Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners we want to spend as much time as possible on the mat training as much as possible. When it comes to losing time on the mat, there is one thing that sidelines us more than injuries; that’s infection.
Staph Infection, the two words that any grappler fears the most. Staph is scary and can be very serious and sometimes even life threatening. Since Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is our life, it is our responsibility to know the signs of Staph, how to prevent it, and when to go see the doctor. In the following paragraphs I’m going to leave you with some knowledge to help prevent and recognize infection, thus keeping you on the mat longer.
Cleanliness In BJJ
The biggest factor in causing an infection is an open wound. We naturally carry a ton of bacteria on our hands, in our noes, and on our feet; and open wound is playing with fire and just asking for an infection. The biggest thing to prevent open wounds is to keep your toenails and finger nails trimmed. Also if you have a scratch or a wound that is healing; don’t be afraid to put a Band-Aid and some tape on it!
A huge step in preventing Staph is being able to realize when you have it. Staph and other infections such as MRSA come in various forms so if you have any of these symptoms you may want to go to the doctor.
- Boils: The most common form of Staph is the boil. Boils are basically pockets of pus that form in an infected are (usually a fair follicle) and turns red and irritated. Boils are often messy and are quite disgusting when they burst! Please don’t grapple with me if you have a boil!
- Impetigo: This is usually found in younger children, so pay special attention if you offer a kids program! Impetigo is a contagious and usually causes a painful rash; the kind associated with Staph usually cause blisters or sores around the nose or mouth.
- Cellulitis: This is an infection of the deeper layers of the skin it can sometimes cause redness on the top layer of the skin visible to the world. Cellulitis is usually found in older people and is often on the legs or feet.
Remember that it is always better to be safe than sorry! For the good of your teammates, your instructors, and anyone who has any contact with the mats at your academy, examine yourself for any of these signs often!
A final step for preventing the spread of infections and Staph is to use anti-bacterial soap daily. Personally I use Body Defense Soap as it is all natural, and I have yet to become infected while using it. We need to remember to shower and clean ourselves properly immediately after training, if not we are at higher risk of infection.
I have witnessed this first hand. I train with very cleanly people, but one night after training one of my teammates forgot to shower as soon as he got home. Unfortunately for him he suffered a minor laceration on his forearm and did not notice. As a result of his temporary lack of hygiene, the cut became infected and caused an infection in his hair follicles. He missed two weeks of training and had to be put on antibiotics by his doctor.
Much like we as practitioners have a responsibility to each other, there is also a mutual responsibility between the instructor and the practitioners. Though the instructor does not have to necessarily clean the mats himself, he or she needs to provide the proper cleaning/mopping equipment to keep the mats clean and free of bad bacteria.
One final step can be taken to help prevent infection. It is of the upmost importance to always wear clean Gis, rash guards, fight shorts, and any other equipment you may use. No matter how clean your academy and instructor keeps the mats, it is all nullified if you and your teammates show up to train in an unsanitary condition.
If you don’t want to follow these tips to extend your training span and your overall health, do it for your teammates. You owe it to them to step on the mat clean and to not put them at risk for infection, because at the end of the day all we really want to do is train right?
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Written by Josh Leduc