Monday, July 08, 2013

I left my toes in San Francisco

Over the years I've done several articles about the prevalence and incidence of various injuries and illnesses related to judo and aikido classes.  Some of the most memorable ones include...

And perhaps the funniest...
But somehow in all my blogging over the years, I managed to miss posting about perhaps the most common judo injury - mat burn.
Pretty much all beginners, when they begin judo, succumb to mat burns - typically on the tops of their most proximal toe knuckles.  Most cases are pretty mild and go away in a day or two with some soap and water and maybe some Lanacane spray.  My personal bout with bat burn was more profound because I was a bit more obstinate in my newaza encounters.  I scraped all the meat off the tops of my metatarso-phalangeal knuckles so badly that I could see the white of tendon moving about in there.  Fortunately I've wised up (a little bit) in the ensuing 20 years.
My coach's instructions with regard to mat burn on the toes was along the lines of, "Maybe you shouldn't do that to yourself."
Recently, having completely forgotten about the specter of mat burn, I had two different beginners tell me that they burnt the meat off their toes during newaza class.  First time that's happened in a LONG TIME, so I figured I'd drop a couple of hints with regard to avoiding matburn..

  • God made us to bear weight against the Earth with the bottoms of our feet - not the tops of our feet.  Not only is the skin of the bottom of your foot tougher, but you can push much harder when the bottom of your foot is on the ground.  So, LIVE TOES!
  • Mat burn on the forehead and corners of the brow is also very common, and this happens when you turtle up and someone jumps on you and grinds you against the ground.  So, DON'T TURTLE but if you do find yourself being smeared on the mat, TAP EARLY instead of insisting that the other guy injure you to prove that you are in an inferior position.
  • Mat burn and gi burn also happen commonly on your knees and elbows.  You might want to GET A RASHGUARD - a long-sleeved, long-legged set of nylon undergarments - Under Armour or the like - to prevent this.
  • The three previous warnings probably eliminate 95% of all mat burns, but BURNS HAPPEN, so LEARN FIRST AID.  You want to wash a mat burn with soap and water, perhaps spray some Lanacane on it, and cover it with a sterile bandage.
[Photo courtesy of Nate Marquardt]

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Patrick Parker

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