Cleanliness and Martial Arts Training
Personal hygiene is important in every aspect of our lives, from how we feel about ourselves to how we are perceived by others. It’s obvious that a whiff of body odor can put an abrupt end to any social interaction, but good personal hygiene is about more than just the experience of an uncomfortable encounter. When engaging in close order, contact sports or activities, like martial arts, sustained proximity to an opponent and physical contact are inevitable. Protecting ourselves and our competitors from the adverse effects of bad hygiene is every participant’s responsibility.
The cleanliness of the martial arts studio is ultimately the responsibility of the owner, but those who use the area should also be concerned with its upkeep. Sweat and blood should be cleaned up as quickly as possible whether the training surface is vinyl, wood, carpet, or stressed canvas.
Skin Infections that are Easily Spread
Maintaining good hygiene helps to prevent the spread of infections that can be transmitted through physical contact. Infections that affect the skin and are easily spread include: ring worm, Staph, MRSA.
Ringworm fungi are found on the top layer of the skin and in the hair. The folds of the skin are ideal for fungal infection on the body, as the moisture found there helps to grow and spread the fungus. Moist areas that people come in contact with, like swimming pools and locker rooms, are perfect environments for the opportunistic ringworm, so it’s easy to understand how this highly-contagious skin infection could spread quickly between martial arts participants.
What used to occur mostly in a hospital setting has now become commonplace in the population. Staph is passed along through exposed sores, and or particular importance to martial arts participants – through bare feet. Treatment for staph infections is usually in the form or antibiotics, although a large segment of the population is resistant to this medication.
A specific type of staph infection, MRSA is also spread by skin contact. Community-associated MRSA is apt to occur in crowded conditions or where physical contact is prevalent, making wrestling, grappling, and brazilian jiu jitsu competitors especially susceptible to contracting it. Remedies for MRSA include treatment with antibiotics or the more direct approach of draining a superficial abscess.
Each of these skin ailments is treatable, especially if diagnosed early. Superficial skin infections like these can worsen over time and affect deeper layers of the skin, resulting in grievous consequences if left untreated. Prescribed medications should be taken until the prescription has been exhausted, even when the outward signs of the infections have dissipated. For this reason, martial arts participants – and anyone else engaging in a contact activity – should suspend their activities for at least the duration of their medical treatment.
A Note to Parents
Parents, who enroll their children in a martial arts training, believe that they are aware of the dangers. Bumps, bruises, and scratches are expected. The benefits of the discipline and the work ethic of a martial arts participant often outweigh any apprehension that parents may have. It’s important to note that the not-so-apparent danger of contracting skin infections due to bad hygiene can pose a greater hazard to their children than participation in the activity itself.
Additional Preventive Measures
Using special soaps, wipes, skin protectants etc. is another cautious way to avoid contracting any of these infections. Check out Defense Soap an industry leader in soaps, wipes, cleaners specifically made for wrestling, BJJ and other contact sports. Wearing rash guards and other skin barriers can also aid in protection for the above infections.