The science behind Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has steadily evolved over the years. Among other things, clothing and equipment have been the subject of a lot of research since BJJ and MMA have risen in popularity. Most notably, rash guards and compression gear.
Rash guards have several uses – the most intruiging being the idea that they aid muscle recovery, allowing you to train harder, and more often.
In this post we’ll examine the reasons you’d want to wear a rash guard, and discuss whether or not rash guards and compression gear actually do help you recover faster.
What Is A Rash Guard?
A rash guard is an athletic shirt designed for sport wear, made of nylon, lycra, spandex, neoprene or polyester (or a combination of these materials).
Originally, rash guards were designed for surfers to wear underneath their wetsuits, and as a lot of surfers started moving into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu culture, this was adopted.
Rash guards are often tight-fitting, also known as compression wear. Along with rash guards, spats (compression leggings) are also commonly worn in No Gi BJJ, and serve almost all the same purposes.
What Is The Purpose Of A Rash Guard?
A rash guard provides protection against rashes from training sessions, protects from the mat burns caused by excessive friction, reduces the spread of bacteria, helps control moisture and helps with muscle recovery and reducing muscle soreness.
Rashes & Mat Burn
One of the purposes of wearing a rash guard is to prevent from mat burn. Mat burn is what you get by the friction that happens as you roll your skin on the mat. It is not a huge injury however it can still hurt and affect your performance. This is one of the reasons why rash guards are heavily used in the world of BJJ. Wearing rash guards and spats will decrease the effect of friction as its surface is a lot smoother.
Dealing With Moisture & Bacteria
The properties of rash guard material make it perfect for moisture control. Your rash guard will wick sweat away from the skin, causing you to stay dry during hot training sessions.
Moisture can be a problem for several reasons. First, the more we train, the more sweaty and slippery we become. That leads to opponents slipping out of submissions, grips becoming less effective, and so on.
Additional, when our sweat is not dealt with, it’s absorbed into the skin, where it leads to course skin, and odor problems.
Finally, your rash guard significantly decreases skin-to-skin or skin-to-mat contact that reduces the spread of bacteria. Cleaning and disinfecting (both yourself and the mats) helps, and should not be ignored, but wearing a rash gaurd means less exposure to nasty bacteria from the floor, or from training partners.
This is particularly important if you have any rashes or open wounds, as when bacteria enters this area, it can result in really nasty infections.
Rash Guards & Compression Gear for Muscle Recovery
Athletes are always looking to improve muscle recovery.
Better recovery means faster muscle growth, as well as more hours you can put in on the mats, or in the gym.
In addition, studies on wearing compression gear during recovery (for example, after rolling) showed it can speed up injury recovery. This is due to the compression effect on the muscles, preventing muscle strain and improving overall athletic performance. This means your muscles are back to 100% quicker, resulting in greater overall growth.
Rash Guards For Injury Prevention
Muscle pulls and strains are common and usually accidental. When wearing a rash guard that fits perfect, you will find yourself not getting injured as easily. The compression allows your muscles to recover more quickly, which eliminates, prevents or delays muscle soreness in the long run. This takes place not only during the workout but also after thus you’re able to perform for longer durations.
Compression gear reduces muscle fatigue and increases blood flow, which helps the muscle tissue in healing and rebuilding. Research studies found that muscle soreness is lower when wearing a rash guard because of how it acts to increase blood flow and enhance arterial muscle blood flow, resulting in improved recovery.
Rash Guards vs Compression Gear
Most of the benefits here are talking about compression gear, rather than rash guards specifically.
It’s worth pointing out that rash guards and compression tops are not exactly the same. A true compression top – e.g. Under Armour gear – is usually extremely tight-fitting and thus limits movement, making it not ideal for use in Jiu Jitsu.
Rash guards are a little looser than a true compression top (or compression leggings, in the case of spats), but they should still be tight-fitting and offer some level of compression. Thus, you can expect some degree of the benefits to remain from compression gear, but not 100%.
Rash Guards: Yes Or No?
Most people feel more comfortable with the extra coverage a rash guard provides. You may discover that you’re more likely to find a willing training partner when wearing a rash guard, because body-to-body contact, and the exposure of hair, sweat, and skin imperfections is minimized.
Additionally, tight-fitting rash guards help support and stability your body parts, reducing strain on your joints, and aiding circulation and muscle recovery. So you may find you’re also more comfortable, can perform better, and can peform longer, when you train BJJ in a rash guard.
Want to look stylish and a little more badass than your usual gym get-up? Go check out these rash guards.