What Are Common Diseases Contracted While Practicing on a BJJ Mat?

What Are Common Diseases Contracted While Practicing on a BJJ Mat?

It is possible to contract diseases while participating in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). But have you ever considered which diseases you are likely to get while performing BJJ on a mat?

A few diseases are commonly contracted due to the close contact nature of BJJ, including skin infections and respiratory illnesses.

This often occurs due to people needing to pay more attention to the BJJ mat's hygiene and carefully cleaning off any residue that could result in infection. To reduce the risk of contracting diseases, you must be aware of the possible health concerns due to using a BJJ mat.

1. What is a BJJ Mat?

A BJJ mat is a padded mat on the ground used for training and competitions. BJJ mats are available in various sizes and colors and are made from different materials, including foam or rubber.

A BJJ mat provides a safe and comfortable surface to train on and can help reduce the risk of injuring yourself. BJJ mats can also be used for other activities, such as yoga or meditation.

When choosing a suitable BJJ mat, consider the mat's size, material, and color.

2. Types of Diseases You Can Get from BJJ Mats

2.1. Staph Infection

Staph infections are caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria is commonly found on the skin and in the nose.

They can also be found on other surfaces, such as door handles, countertops, etc. It can get into the body through a cut or scrape and cause an infection.

Symptoms of a staph infection include redness, swelling, pain, and pus. The infection can range from mild to severe and can sometimes be life-threatening. People at risk for developing a staph infection include those with weakened immune systems or diabetes, or heart disease.

Treatment & Prevention

Treatment for a staph infection includes taking antibiotics and sometimes undergoing surgery. Refrain from practicing if there are open and exposed wounds on your body. Avoid a dirty mat to reduce the chances of getting this infection.

2.2. Fungal Skin infections

Ringworm is a common and contagious infection that can cause a red, itchy rash in the shape of a ring.

Another type of fungal infection known as an athlete's foot can cause the skin on the feet to become red, itchy, and cracked.

Impetigo is a skin infection that causes sores, blisters, pain, and discomfort.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria resistant to many antibiotics. It can cause skin infections, pneumonia, and blood poisoning.

Herpes is a virus that can cause severe skin infections. Herpes can lead to painful blisters and sores on the skin. In severe cases, the virus can cause neurological problems and death.

Treatment & Prevention

It is essential to clean your skin before and after training to prevent infection, especially if you have cuts or scrapes. Make sure to keep your mat clean. Wipe it down with a disinfectant solution or vinegar and water mixture after every time you use it.

2.3. Respiratory Infections

In recent years, there has been an increase in respiratory infections associated with BJJ mats. This is likely due to close contact and sharing BJJ gym bags, gear, or mats.

Treatment & Prevention

Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. In case of emergency and severe health issues, consult a doctor immediately.

2.4. Gastrointestinal Infections

BJJ mats can be a breeding ground for gastrointestinal infections. Constant contact with the mat and the sweat and bacteria from other fighters can create an environment ripe for infection. Symptoms of a gastrointestinal infection include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Treatment & Prevention

See a doctor immediately if you experience any of the symptoms associated with gastrointestinal infections. While most infections can be treated with antibiotics, some can lead to severe complications if left untreated.

3. Why is it Necessary to Clean Your Mat?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu mats are essential to training since they provide extra comfort and help keep practitioners from hurting themselves. But to ensure a clean and safe training space, you must regularly clean the BJJ mat.

Mats can be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses; the only way to get rid of them is to clean mats regularly. Bacteria can cause infections and illness, while viruses can cause colds, flu, and other respiratory diseases.

Moreover, if your mat remains dirty, this could result in it having a dirty look and make it difficult to move due to sticky spots. Even if you don't have any health issues, keeping your mats clean is still essential. After all, nobody wants to train on a dirty mat!

4. How to Prevent Getting an Infection from a BJJ Mat

To avoid getting sick due to a bacteria or virus contracted from a BJJ mat, follow the tips listed below on possible preventive measures:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. You can also use hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch your face when practicing on a mat. This will help keep germs from getting into your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Wear clean clothes since dirty clothes will pile up germs and increase the risk of getting sick.
  • Make sure you're using a clean BJJ mat. This means regularly cleaning and disinfecting your mat and ensuring no rips or tears where bacteria could be hiding.
  • Wear protective gear when training. This includes gloves, a mouthguard, and ear guards if you're training in a No-Gi class.
  • Shower after training. This will help remove any bacteria or sweat on your skin.
  • Only train if you are healthy. You may spread your illness to others if you train while sick. If you have a cold or the flu, it is best to stay home and rest.
  • Don't train barefoot. Wear shoes or sandals that can be quickly disinfected.
  • Avoid sharing items like water bottles, towels, and gi to reduce the spread of germs.

5. Ways to Clean Your BJJ Mat

Like all gym equipment, BJJ mats can get dirty and become a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful microbes. That's why it's essential to regularly clean and disinfect your BJJ mats to ensure everyone who uses them stays safe and healthy.

Possible tips on how to clean your BJJ mat include the following:

  1. Wipe the mats with a clean, dry cloth after being used. This will help remove any surface sweat, dirt, and grime buildup.
  2. Deep clean the mats at least once a week with a mat cleaner or disinfectant. Be sure to follow the directions on the cleaning product label.
  3. Allow the mats to air dry completely before using them again.
  4. If possible, store the mats in a cool, dry place when not in use.

Several factors can help lower the risk of infection, including holding BJJ training in a controlled environment (i.e., a clean and well-maintained gym or dojo).

6. Final Thoughts

There is always the possibility of contracting several diseases while practicing on a BJJ mat. However, it is also clear that these diseases can be easily avoided if proper precautions are taken.

Practice good hygiene and knows how to clean yourself, your rash guard, shorts, gi, and gear correctly. Be on the lookout for any symptoms of possible infections and diseases you can contract on the mat so that you can seek treatment immediately if necessary.

Photo credit: @zebraathletics

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