Mat Burn- How to avoid and treat it

If you have been training for any length of time in Jiu-Jitsu or wrestling you will surely have experienced mat burn at some stage.

If you have you will know that mat burn can be agony and can even result in time off the mat. Simple tasks that you had previously taken for granted like putting on a pair of socks or stepping into the shower become torturous and the burns can often be slow to heal as any rubbing or friction with the wound can slow the healing process down.

There are those savages out there that will say suck it up but I must have a low pain threshold or particularly sensitive skin on my  feet because I for one can’t stand it.

Jiu-Jitsu Mat Burn feet

Mat Burn- My own horrible feet after a recent comp.

So in order to avoid this nasty injury here are some things to avoid along with tips on how to treat.

Top Tips

  1. Mat burn can occur at any time but I find it particularly bad after competitions or hard sparring sessions. Rolling at 100% 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 compared to when you are ‘rolling light’.
  2. Roll more! I find that my feet have hardened over time and the skin where I have been burned previously is significantly tougher and less susceptible to bad mat burn. However if I return from holiday or a period off the mats my feet seem to cut up easier.
  3. Proper taping- this is a skill that has to be acquired. Taping the feet and toes can be tricky as the tape can easily slip off when rolling. Make sure that the tape you use is water resistant and try to tape in a way that that the wrapping is anchored.

Recovery

  1. Showering– if you have a bath/shower, put the plug in the drain and fill up the bath a couple inches (add some disinfectant if you have it. Once filled, step in and turn on your shower. By having your feet submerged in the water you avoid the trauma of the shower water stinging your fresh wound!
  2. Leave the wound open and walk barefoot when at home. Allowing the air at the wound helps to form a scab which is an important stage in the healing process.
  3. Sleeping -similar to above I like to leave my feet uncovered when I sleep by keeping them outside of the bed linen. I am convinced that the air helps them recover quicker. Previously I found it hard to sleep as the duvet would constantly rub on the fresh wound.
  4. Salt water– if you are lucky enough to leave by the sea try going for a paddle. I find that the salt water accelerates the healing significantly.
  5. Rest– This is obvious but it really is the best treatment. It can be hard to miss training but your skin cannot repair itself if you are constantly removing the scab and reopening the wound. Even a 2-3 day break can significantly heal any damage done.