Wash Your Belt You Filthy Animal! For Your Skin and Your Health!
There are a few key concepts every BJJ player needs to consciously address in order to survive.
Concepts like protecting your neck, keeping your elbows close and turning every roll into an Abu Dhabi battle to death to prove once and for all whose got the biggest bollocks at Tuesday night class. Ok, maybe that last one isn’t that necessary – is it, Tony?
With all the information we have today regarding ringworm, staphylococcus and fungal infections there are still some people who refuse to wash their belts out of some crazy Samson-esque superstition believing their power will be washed away with the bath water… or washing machine, whatever. You wash things your way I’ll wash things my way.
Maintaining a strong funk to your belt, gi or rashguard is a sure fire way to lose friends and spread disease. And you know what? If you’re basing all of your success, skill and talent on a toxic soup of bacteria engaged in an orgy on your belt, you’re probably not that good anyway.
In this article, we’re going to break down your hygiene issues into three areas:
- Your skin’s role in the defence of your body,
- The potential health risks, and
- A few ways to rectify the issue…cough, cough, clean, cough, clean your gear you filthy animal, oh sorry, uh-hem, where was I….
Part 1: The Defensive Role of Your Skin
You probably already know that your skin is that largest organ of your body and one of its primary roles is to defend you from outside pathogens and other nasty junk in the environment.
The sebaceous glands located below the outer layer (epidermis) form an oily liquid called sebum to keep your skin moist, while providing a protective barrier limiting the amount of microorganisms living on your skin.
Why is this barrier important? Well, your skin does more than play the role of biological immigration officer; it also serves as an ecosystem for the estimated 1,000,000,000 microbes residing on each centimetre of your skin.
The more you come into contact with different people, animals, environments and substances, both natural and synthetic, the more these things will influence the proportions of micro-organisms on your body. Obviously, the more pathological (Nasty Ass) bacteria, the more likely you are at risk of infection and disease.
Part 2: Bacteria and the Potential Risk of Disease
As we mentioned, the more you come in contact with other microbial ecosystems the more your own will be affected. Training in a BJJ class can involve rolling with a number of people, depending on the popularity of your school.
This close contact, coupled with sweaty panting fury, encourages high levels of exposure and microbial transferal between partners. Obviously, most people understand this transaction and take showers either at the gym or when they get home.
Yet, maybe 50% or more of those people will leave their gi in the laundry to be washed the next day and, sadly, never wash their belt at all. Only to hold it up in the moments before training the next day like He-Man boasting the catch phrase’ “I have the POWEEEER!”
Unfortunately, the only power bestowed in that belt is the power to destroy health, hygiene and any opportunity to flirt with the opposite sex – I mean, I’ve been out of the game for a while, but no one finds skin rashes attractive these days, do they?
No, the warm damp environment your belt is left in (especially if you’ve left it in your car or bag you savage) is one of the best environments for pathological microorganisms to breed in a horrific lustful frenzy.
Yep, rather than fostering your BJJ skills, you’re instead festering the potential for infection, like:
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- Herpes Simplex (HSV-1 & HSV-2)
- And more. YEAH! More!
Even though your skin does a pretty good job in most cases to protect you from foreign invaders any lacerations, weaknesses in sebum or the immune system will significantly reduce your skin’s defensive capabilities.
Lucky no one ever gets cut or wears down their immune system in BJJ… oh, wait.
Part 3: What You Can Do to Protect Your Skin
Right, I think I can hear you coming around now, and I can’t tell you’re in desperate need of a remedy.
Lucky for you, protecting your skin and building a healthy microbial ecosystem isn’t too difficult.
Following the easy tips listed below will help safeguard yours and your training partner’s health, win friends, influence people and, more importantly, rid yourself of your rank, rancid and stinky reputation.
- Clean Your Belt and Gi Immediately After Training
- Wash and Disinfect Your Hands As Soon as You Leave the Mat, Especially Before Eating
- Shower Immediately After Training
- Use a Good Shower Gel Free From Harsh Chemicals That Won’t Dry Out Your Skin and Negatively Affect Sebum Production
- Eat and Drink Healthy Foods
- Help Clean the Mats After Each Session in Your Gym