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Every Judo athlete is going to suffer from minor injuries, ranging from bumps and bruises, through to mat burns, cuts and finger nails being bent backwards. These are less serious medically but still need treating. Too often these minor injuries are ignored and can have a big impact on your training and performance over the long-term.

Many coaches and some instructors will ignore these injuries and the athletes lose training preparation due to these injuries. Injuries in training can ruin your peaking for competitions or take you out of events all together.

But minor injuries, the type described above that we often ignore can impact your ability to train too, possibly ruining your chances of winning. Because they are minor injuries however, the impact is often not given the attention it deserves and treatment provided often is of a lesser standard to that for major injuries.

Judokaa Martial Arts believe very strongly in having the instructors certified in First Aid as well as CPR. While serious injuries in Judo are rare having the instructor know what to do is never a bad idea.

All instructors working the children’s programs are certified in Both First aid as well as CPR.

Let’s look at a common Judo example; mat burns. Mat burns are a minor injury; your average performance coach is not going to give you too much sympathy. However, it is very important that you treat a mat burn properly for both medical reasons and for training reasons. A mat burn is basically a graze, caused by the rough texture of Judo tatami (mats). You will normally get the “burn” on a soft piece of skin that is not normally in contact with the mat; for example the top of your toes or feet. The top layer (or two) of skin if removed and the flesh underneath is exposed to the air.

A mat burn stings, but generally is just a slight discomfort. Often a mat burn will simply go away as your skin naturally recovers and after a few days you’ve forgotten about it. Sometimes the burn causes a scab to form and these burns can take longer to heal and can be uncomfortable for quite some time. Worse yet, mat burns can easily become infected and become red and very painful. This in turn can lead to bigger issues if the infection spreads.

Mat burns need treatment, they need cleaning and dressing. You should wash every mat burn as soon as possible and you’ll probably not like this, but anti-septic (the stinging stuff) should probably be applied. You then want to cover the burn.

It’s important to consider the environment in which you got the burn. You got it off the mat, where lots of people have been walking/fighting, where people have been doing ne-waza and people have been sweating. There are a lot of bacteria potentially floating around, bacteria looking for a nice moist pace to live and grow… a mat burn is ideal. So cleaning and covering a mat burn is really important for you, it will hopefully prevent burn getting infected. It also prevents you spreading anything nasty around the dojo and infecting anyone else. We are all carrying our own fair share of bacteria, germs, etc. By cleaning and covering a mat burn you are helping ensure that both you and your team mates stay healthy.

Proper treatment will also help prevent your training being affected. Mat burns are not serious injuries, but they do hurt and can really put you off your training, especially if they get infected and sore! You won’t enjoy doing your Judo as much (if at all) if that mat burn you got on your elbow hurts every time someone takes a grip there will you; so take care of them properly.

Bruises too are generally not a huge problem, but they are often not treated at all; which is not sensible as they again can affect your training pretty quickly. Take the classic Judo bruise… a heel direct to your shin, BANG! If you don’t follow the RICE Protocol a bruise can become much larger than it should be. This in turn will make it more painful and cause it to take longer to heal. So you will have a period of time where any contact with your shin is going to make you cringe in pain; which will distract you from your training and more often than not change the way you move, defend and attack.

So again, treating a bruise (or the initial bang/bump) as soon as possible with Ice or a cold pack and some compression will potentially save you lots of discomfort and disturbed training in the future. As with mat burns, taking 5 minutes out of a session to treat the injury and then getting back on the mat can save hours of lost training or lost quality of training over the following days or weeks.

The same advice of treating minor injuries promptly and properly applies to most injuries. The sooner you treat an injury, the less the injury is likely to affect you that session, that day and later on.