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How To Treat and Prevent BJJ Mat Burns

How To Treat and Prevent BJJ Mat Burns

1. What is a Mat Burn?

Mat Burns also known as Rug burn, carpet burn, and friction burn affects the area when rubbed against the mat. When skin rubs too hard on the mat surface then it burns the skin because friction produces heat and causes a mat burn. Most of the grapplers wear their mat burn as a badge of honor. Typically, mat burns are treated easily and these are small burns that should not be ignored.

However, some mat burns cause problems if they don't get treated on time. Mat burns can cause staph infection. In the gym, staph infections spread fast because of the heat, moist places, and close contact. It can lead to painful rashes, and blisters, and even create a burning wound. Besides the mat burn, carelessness, while training on the mat can lead to MRSA infection which happens due to Staph infection, which is much more difficult to treat than mat burn.

Related: A common infection in BJJ Practice: Ringworm

2. Causes of Mat Burn

Following are the reasons for the causes of mat burn among BJJ practitioners.

  • Mat Burns are caused due to penetration steps. Excessive rubbing against the floor while sparring or training can result in a burn on your knees and toes.
  • Another cause of the mat burn is Friction, which produces heat when the body rubs against the mat and burns the skin.
  • The rough texture of the mats can also cause skin burns.
  • Poor quality mats made from paper with heavy wood pulp content are chemically unstable and acidic. The wood pulp causes mat burn and abrasions.


3. Common Body Areas of Mat Burn

3.1. Knees Mat Burn

Knees took the whole weight of the body and if rubbed against the mat while training can result in knee burns. Typically, grapplers counter this by wearing knee pads or trousers that will protect against knee rubbing. Gi trousers guard you against Mat burns around the knees but No-Gi practitioners usually get mat burns.

Knees Mat Burn

3.2. Toes Mat Burn

It is caused by kneeling and having your feet flat on the ground and shifting slightly your toe across the mat. This may sound quite specific, but it happens all the time while transitioning from guard positions and side control.


3.3. Elbow Mat Burn

Probably the third most common mat burn susceptible area is the elbow. This is mostly because we often stay on one elbow and the elbow carries a lot of weight.

3.4. Feet Mat Burn

Mat burn on the feet is common for grapplers and wrestlers. Given the nature of BJJ, the feet are often most prone to being burned. Grapplers practice with bare feet on the mats, increasing the possibility of rubbing feet against the mat and causing a burn. The skin of the outside of the feet is soft; in some cases, there might be a chance of getting a second-degree burn.


3.5. Face Mat Burn

Face mat burn usually happens when your opponent turns your face down into the mat. It happens when you are in a front headlock and your training partner just pins you face down into the ground and puts pressure on the back of your head. This situation causes the face to burn.

Face Mat Burn

4. Prevention Methods

4.1. Mats Are Clean

One way to prevent mat burn is to ensure the hygiene of mats. Keeping the mats and surrounding area clean and germ-free would help you a lot in preventing any complications related to mat burns. Discipline in martial arts also focuses on the cleanliness around the place of your training.

4.2. Wear BJJ Gi

When you wear a full BJJ Gi, it's less likely for your skin to rub against the mat, wearing socks also reduces your chances of getting mat burn. Though hands and feet can catch calluses very fast mostly they don't need any treatment. You can avoid this by wearing socks and gloves.

4.3. Protect Your Hand and Feet

Hands are used to lift and bear a lot of weight and work because of the grip and pull. There are different qualities, sizes, colors, fabrics, and functional bandages available. Use one according to your preferences.

Related: How And Why To Tape Your Fingers For BJJ


4.4. Wear Knee and Elbow Pads

If you do not want to wear long sleeve rash guards, consider buying high-quality and comfortable elbow and knee pads. You can become comfortable over time because they have padding and can limit the mobility of your joint from the start. But they prevent your skin from rubbing on the mat and thus prevent mat burns.

4.5. Use Rash Guard

Rash guards are made from soft, thin, and compression material, wearing a good quality BJJ rashguard can prevent rashes and mat burns. The rash guard should be tight-fitting to help prevent rubbing skin against the mat to avoid mat burns. Rash guards can also be worn under the BJJ Gi.

4.6. Tips To Avoid Mat Burn: Before Stepping on Mats

There is a higher possibility of getting mat burns after competitions or hard sparring sessions. BJJ Rolling significantly increases the chance of mat burn as you are more likely to scramble hard and move faster which can scuff up your feet much easier.

  • Proper training is an underrated skill that has to be acquired with patience. Make sure you are using tape that is water resistant and the wrapping should be anchored.
  • Wear grappling socks.
  • Try to switch your training in Gi if you train No-Gi.

5. Mat Burn Treatment

5.1 Wash With Cold Water

The best instant cure is to wash your affected area with cold water. Keep in mind that you have to treat it the same way you treat other wounds. The mat burn was with cold water directly after the 15 minutes of getting wounded. Rinse with cold water for a few minutes. Remove any clothing or jewelry that is near the burnt area of the skin that can stick to the skin.

How to do

  • Apply cool water for a few minutes over the burned skin
  • Soak it in clean water and gently apply a clean towel
  • Apply a moisturizing cream or lotion

5.2. Disinfect the Wound

An important step in the treatment for mat burn is to disinfect the wound with medically approved antibacterial ointments or creams for preventing any possible complication.

5.3. Apply Burn Cream

If you don’t have vulnerable skin caused by mat burn, you can instantly apply a burn cream to avoid further infection or any competition. Sometimes, a practitioner may have developed infections caused by mat burns, it can take a few days to recover. If you apprehend any sign of infection, consult your Doctor.

5.4. Use Sterile Gauze

If you spot a reddish or pinkish spot on your skin during or after BJJ training, it may be caused by a mat burn. Treating mat burn quickly is important in order to avoid complex skin infections. For that reason, you should avoid touching the wound directly with your hands and use sterile gauze from a first aid kit.

How to use

  • Clean the wound with normal saline and sterile water.
  • Soaked gauze in sterile water, now wipes the wound from the outer edge.
  • You can use cold sterile gauze to cool the wound.
  • Avoid touching directly wounds with your hands, and use sterile gauze.

5.5. Apply Liquid Bandage

In case of mat burn, try to apply the liquid bandage, it will help to close the wound more rapidly. Liquid bandage products should be used on the mat burns. It helps in drying, preventing pain, and guards your body against bacteria.

A liquid bandage is made up of glue, mixed with common antiseptic and anesthetic. If you need to remove the liquid bandage, apply a small quantity to the affected area and slowly wipe it off.

Note: Apply Liquid Bandage only when your burn wound is small. Otherwise, consult your physician.

5.6. Tip for Recovery From Mat Burn

  • Showering: Soak your mat burn in water. Mix some disinfection in water.
  • Leave the Wound Open: Do not cover it with any clothes, let the wound heal in the open air.
  • Salt Water: Mix some salt into the water and soak your burn areas in the salted water. The sated water accelerates the healing significantly.
  • Rest: Taking rest is the most important step in any recovery process.
  • Consult with Physicians: If your mat burns are not healing at home. Do not waste time, it will increase the possibility of getting an infection. Consult with your physician immediately.

6. Training With Mat Burn

Train Don’t Train
Most grapplers can train while having Mat burns If the mat-burn affected area is painful and can infect others then do not train for a few days until it recovers
You can use a rash Guard for training with mat burn Give your skin rest for healing and recovery
Tape the wound or use bandage on the affected area while training Training with serious mat burn can increase the possibility of more damage
You can cover the wounds with alcohol wipes to avoid bacteria and can train Some mat buns are hard to recover from if they get infected so do not train in such cases and take a few days off.

7. Final Thought

As soon as you notice that you have a mat burn, clean it with wipes and check the affected area. Mat burn is a minor thing while training Jiu Jitsu but they are annoying to treat. However, to avoid mat burns take care of your skin during and after practice. Prioritize personal and mat hygiene. Consult with your physician if the wounds are spreading.

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