BJJ Mat Burn: 5 Ways to Avoid it on Feet, Toes, Knees, Elbows

BJJ Mat Burn

A common injury in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is one that is known as “mat burn”. When a BJJ athlete spends long hours on the mats the skin can get damaged through friction with the mats. Mat burn is certainly one of the most annoying little injuries Jiu Jitsu athletes have to endure.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at what BJJ mat burn is, how to prevent it, and what to do if you get it.

What is BJJ Mat Burn?

BJJ mat burn is a type of skin irritation and abrasion occurring when your skin meets the surface of a BJJ mat. The name “mat burn” is derived from the heat that arises through the friction between the skin and the mat.

Every BJJ techniques that involves sliding across the mat and every movement of the skin on the mats while weight is placed on the area can cause mat burn.

Mat burn has several degrees of severity. First, the skin becomes red and irritated. If the mat burn is more severe, the upper layers of your skin can open up and bleed. If the skin is severely damaged, it is most important to make sure the wound doesn’t get infected.

BJJ mat burn is a common problem when practicing Jiu Jitsu, and it’s something that every practitioners has to deal with at some point.

Areas that are Most Affected by Mat Burn from Jiu Jitsu

BJJ Athletes usually get mat burn on the following body parts:

  • Knees
  • Feet and Toes
  • Elbows
  • Shoulder
  • Knuckles
  • Face
BJJ Mat Burn on the Knees
BJJ Mat Burn on the Knees
BJJ Mat Burn on the Feet and Toes
BJJ Mat Burn on the Feet and Toes

How to Prevent BJJ Mat Burn

The best way to prevent BJJ mat burn is to think about it ahead of time. Here are a few tips to help prevent mat burn from Jiu Jitsu:

  • Wear appropriate clothing: Wearing long pants or spats and long-sleeved rash guards goes a long way in protecting your skin from mat burn. Rash guards are specifically designed to protect your skin from rashes and abrasions, hence the name. Rash guards can also be worn under your BJJ Gi to provide an extra layer of protection.
    Every practitioner should consider wearing this kind of protective clothing as cheap RashGuards and Gis are readily available today.
  • Keep the skin dry: Your skin is much more resilient when it is dry. Sweat and other moisture make your skin soft and receptible to all kinds of injuries and infections. However, keeping the skin dry is very challenging when doing BJJ, especially in warm climates.
  • Use skin protectant: There are several skin protectants available that can help prevent mat burn from BJJ. Some popular options include petroleum jelly/Vaseline, zinc oxide. Petroleum jelly helps reducing the friction while zinc oxide has disinfecting properties and keeps the skin dry to avoid germs from entering the skin.
  • Use tape: Taping up areas that have previously been affected by mat burn is a great option to protect critical areas of your skin.
  • Knowing your limitations: We know that sometimes it is hard to stop in the heat of the moment but if you really want to avoid getting mat burn from BJJ you should take it easy as soon as the first signs develop.

We recommend you go with one of the following basic products. They are cheap and reliable and you don’t need anything fancy to stay save.

Vaseline Blueseal Pure Petroleum Jelly Original 100ml

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
  • Helps to keep wounds from drying out and forming a scab
  • Leaves skin feeling clean, velvety, and rebalanced

CareALL 15 oz Zinc Oxide 20% Skin Protectant Barrier

Zinc Oxide Ointment
  • Provides moisture barrier and seals out wetness
  • Active ingredient: 20% Zinc Oxide as skin protectant

What to Do if You Get BJJ Mat Burn

If you do get BJJ mat burn, there are a few things you can do to prevent further damage and speed up the healing process:

  • Clean the affected area: Use clean water to clean the area around the mat burn. Be gentle and avoid rubbing or scrubbing the area.
  • Disinfect the damaged area: Use a wound cleanser that is specifically designed for this purpose. The right product won’t burn or damage any cells!
  • Apply a skin protectant: After cleaning the area, apply a skin protectant like petroleum jelly or zinc oxide to help soothe the irritation, protect the skin and speed up the healing process.
  • Take a break: Unfortunately, sometimes the only thing that can heal your wounds is time. If the mat burn is particularly painful, it’s a good idea to take a break from training for a few days to allow the skin to heal.
  • Tape affected area: If you want to get back on the mats as soon as possible, tape the affected area. This will enable you to train with less pain. However, make sure not to damage the skin any further as the tape might stick to the scabs that have built and pulling it off might open up the wound again.

No gym bag should miss a wound cleanser like the following as disinfecting an open wound goes a long way on preventing complications. The same goes for tape, a Jiu Jitsu athletes best friend.

Medline Skintegrity Wound Cleansers

Wound Disinfection
  • Helps to keep wounds from drying out and forming a scab
  • Leaves skin feeling clean, velvety, and rebalanced

Athletic Tape Extremely Strong

BJJ Tape
  • Strong and sticky but easy to apply and tear
  • Doesn’t leave sticky residue on your skin


You are not alone. BJJ mat burn is a common problem that most BJJ athletes have to deal with. While it can be painful and annoying, there are steps you can take to prevent it and it is usually easy to treat.

By wearing a rash guard, keeping your skin dry and strong, and listening to your body you can prevent most mat burns from BJJ ahead of time.

If you still suffer from BJJ mat burn, remember to apply the same care as for every open wound. Clean the affected area, disinfect the wound, and take a break from training if necessary. Make sure to take care of yourself as it will benefit you in the long run.

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