Wrestling Mat Cleaning: New Dangers for an Ancient Sport

By Amy Milshtein

  • Wrestling Mat Cleaning: New Dangers for an Ancient Sport
Wrestling Mat Cleaning: New Dangers for an Ancient Sport

Wrestling has been around forever—or at least for the last 15,000 years, according to Wikipedia. Moves are depicted on ancient French cave paintings and Babylonian stone reliefs. Variations are found worldwide from Japanese Sumo to Turkish Oil Wrestling. The sport even appears in the bible; Israel, after all, means “One Who Wrestles with God.”


The sport’s popularity shows no sign of slowing. The National Wrestling Coaches Association counts 278,890 male--and female--high school athletes. But popularity brings increased risk of skin infections. Proper wrestling mat cleaning curtails that risk.


Grappling with the Dangers

When people think of wrestling injuries they usually imagine strained muscles, torn ligaments or broken noses, not a rash. Yet bacteria, viruses and fungus present on skin and equipment can cause a nasty outbreak which can spread with surprising speed. Jamie Ramirez, wrestling coach for Central Crossing High School in Grove City, OH, explains how it happens in This Week Sports.com, "You have close contact, you have a rough sport where kids get scrapes and cuts, and you have kids cutting weight, which can lead to lower immunity levels," he said. "It's a perfect storm, and it's something you have to be ready to handle."


No Holds Barred

The germs that wrestlers may be exposed to include staph, strep, herpes, ringworm, impetigo and MRSA. They can even contract necrotizing facsitis, also known as flesh eating bacteria. Outbreaks can ruin the season of an individual athlete or sideline an entire team. Long term effects on a wrestling program can be more dramatic as bad public image can make recruitment harder, cause a decline in revenue and even spur lawsuits from angry parents.


For this reason, individual athletes, coaches and parents must vigilantly check for rashes, lesions or “spider bites.” Wrestlers may be reluctant to report anything that will keep them off the mats so adults must be extra cautious. Some coaches check every athlete twice a day. Others bring a doctor in for weekly inspections.


Pinning Down Prevention

Cleanliness is the best way to stop an outbreak of skin infections. Encourage good hygiene among athletes including showering immediately after wrestling and washing equipment, gear and the bags they travel in. Wrestling mat cleaning is another vital step in keeping athletes safe. Mats should be washed every day during the season with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Be sure to follow manufacturer directions for safety and efficacy. Dry mats immediately to prevent mold and mildew growth.


Click here for more wrestling mat cleaning tips. 


Image source: Flickr

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines. 

Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.

She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.

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