BJJ / Grappling injuries: hand skin

I know this is not a BJJ injury per se, but I have noticed that the more I train BJJ and grappling, especially in the gi, the more it seems to shred the skin on my hands in general and my fingers in particular. Avoiding this "grapplers hands" condition is by no means only for vanity.

-shredded skin hurts!
-skin is your body's barrier against infections and a broken barrier is a useless barrier.
-a small cut can easily grow into a big one.

While I'm not suggesting a Frank Catton - style manicure every day, I do suggest you look after the skin of your hands. In this field, female BJJ and grappling practitioners have the upper hand (no pun intended). Girls have a headstart when it comes to looking after their skin. For male BJJ and grappling players, I suggest a simple routine to ensure the skin on your hands is intact and survives the rough and toil of Brazilian jiu jitsu and grappling:
  • Always keep your nails short, clean and trimmed. If everyone did that, no one will scratch anyone else. Every gym should have a disinfected nailclipper.
  • If any peice of skin is sticking out from your fingers, use the nailclipper to trim it away. Smooth surfaces are harder to catch onto stuff and start a cut or abrasion.
  • I learned this from my wife: push back the cuticle. The cuticles on your nails is a layer of dead cells. Left to it's own, it can easily split and shred and start catching onto your or your opponent's gi. It hurts like an Ess Oh Bee when they shred and like I mentioned if they form a cut, there is risk for skin infections! It's so easily avoided though, by simply pushing back the cuticle with your thumb nail.

Hands Need Work

Fight Ready!
Your hands are very important tools, not just on but off the mat too! Looking after them helps insure you never miss a BJJ / grappling session. It just makes sense.

Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

----Did You Like This Article?--- Click here to add The Part Time Grappler to your Favourites / Bookmarks


Tamas Kovacs said...

Is the itchy, dry skin on upper back caused by jiu jitsu training? :D Because I have that sometimes and as I remember I didn't have it before I started BJJ.

Liam H Wandi said...

Hi Tamas. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the post. I appreciate it.

I remember reading in Sensei Tomiyama (Kofukan Shito Ryu Karate) how members of his uni karate club could be identified in public baths by dry, callused skin around...their lower back! from all the thousands of sit-ups they used to do!

While I'm not a doctor, it sounds like you need to:

1. Scrub and moisturise the dry patch
2. Make sure you always wear a layer between your skin and the harsh weave of a jiu jitsu gi. Rash guards are ideal for that purpose.

You have to remember that grappling is unique in it's toil on the skin. Of course, if the dry itchy skin persists check with a qualified professional.

Megan said...

Thanks for this Liam. I've had issues with my hands since I started training for reasons of vanity (they used to be so pretty), but lately, with lots of skin catching (I train mostly gi) it's become an issue of health.

I've personally always been against pushing back cuticles because it seems to just cause them to act up more...I once had a manicurist guess that's why I have zero cuticle problems...but that was pre training. Now, I always train with polished nails and it does afford some level of protection...not sure if you're willing to walk that road though;)

Liam H Wandi said...

Many thanks Megan. Your posts are always very informative on the (little discussed) subject of skin care.

We put our skin thru sooo much in grappling and a minor cut could easily delay or even ruin a grappling career.