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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Training and tattoos

As the name suggests, I like tattoos and have quite a lot, so I get asked about getting tattoos while training quite a lot. The question is always "How long should I wait before rolling after getting a tattoo?" and my advice is wait until it's healed (although you can train with a fresh tattoo and I'll get on to that). But further advice is... you should be able to get a tattoo healed pretty quickly if you do it right.

I am sure other people might have other ways of doing it, but all I know is my last 2 hour sitting was healed in 3 days and I have had a 6 hour sitting healed in 4 days. I am sure the tattooist you use makes a difference too, and people will naturally heal at different rates. I have had my last few tattoos by Chris Jones at Physical Graffiti in Cardiff.

As soon as the tattoo is finished it gets wrapped in clingfilm. I keep it on for about 1.5-2 hours then wash it in lukewarm water with a bit of mild soap (I use standard Dove) until the water runs off clear. Then pat dry it with kitchen roll. Straight away put a layer of Bepanthan cream (nappy rash cream) on it, enough to cover it with a thin layer, no excess. Keep applying the cream to keep the skin wet to touch all the time and wash it 3 or 4 times a day.

For sleeping at night I have tried wrapping it in clingfilm and not. I prefer not to wrap it, although I didn't find any difference in healing time. I find wrapping it means much more fluid on it in the morning and more mess. As long as you put a decent layer of cream on it before bed and get it in a good position. Note: I haven't got a backpiece or chestpiece so wrapping them might work better, I don't know. If you do this you shouldn't really get any scab, although places where your skin creases with movement are most likely to but it should be minimal.

Once the skin starts to get flakey keep it dosed with a plain moisturiser (I use E45) and after a few days it'll be all done. It's should be ok to go back training at this point for sure.

I've started back training the day after having one done. Just by doing the same thing as normal but I applied a bit extra cream to it before training and washed it immediately after. Again, I would recommend just taking the small amount of time off that it takes to heal. It's not long and it's going to be on you forever so make it look good.

I also believe a product called Hustle Butter has helped with these last tattoos healing so quickly. It's used during the tattoo process instead of vaseline. Before I had that used on me the healing took longer (all other variables were the same, I realise it's not a clinical trial). I've also tried using it as aftercare, but I prefer Bepanthan for that as it keeps the skin wet to the touch for longer.

An alternative method from the massively tattooed Nick Brooks (black belt who runs the highly successful Mill Hill BJJ in London) is that he keeps his tattoo constantly covered in clingfilm but regular removes it to wash and cream it. Says it takes a fair bit of effort but works.

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