When you are in a training groove, taking a few days off is hard. All that hard work you put into getting in peak shape is suddenly at risk the moment you come down with something. While you may be tempted to train through your illness, you must remember that you are training in a group environment.
If you show up at the gym when you are sick with something contagious, you run the risk of getting other people sick.
Nobody wants to train with someone who can get them sick. While people can train through a cold if you have anything that is highly contagious you need to stay away from the gym until it’s gone.
I know this sounds like common sense, but I’ve seen countless people training when they should be at home.
Trying to be a hero can result in the whole gym catching what you have. Trust me; nothing is worse than a bout of ringworm or Staph infection that starts spreading like wildfire at a gym.
Why It’s Easy to Get Sick in Thailand
One of the pros of training in Thailand is you get to train with people who come from all over the world. While this is great for having a variety of sparring partners, it also means every person visiting the gym brings a brand-new set of germs and infections that they carry from back home.
If you are at a gym with a lot of foreigners, you get year-round contact with people who are constantly bringing new germs into the gym. Combine this with the fact that your immune system takes a beating from of all the hard training, and you have the perfect recipe for getting sick, often.
While it is forgivable to train when you have a common cold (most people do), if you have something highly contagious like the flu, ringworm or a staph infection you need to avoid the gym.
Even if you cover your wounds up, you would be surprised how easily bacteria can spread when you are touching the heavy bag, kicking the pads and even lying on the floor doing sit-ups.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen guys with infected skin, who have no idea that they even have an infection. Most of the time, you spot these guys after the fact, when it is too late to do anything about it.
If you have a bacterial skin infection, DO NOT TRAIN WITH PEOPLE.
People don’t realize that when you train with an infection/illness, you are spreading the love around to all the other people at the gym.
Hitting Thai pads with your trainer can spread the bacteria onto the Thai pads, which will in turn transfer to the next person kicking the pads. Even lying on the mats can spread your germs to the next person who touches the mat.
Because of the close contact, clinching is probably the easiest way to spread something in training.
If you suspect you have an infection, take a trip down to the clinic and see a doctor. It is better to be safe than spread an infection to your training partners. Bacterial infections often look like infected pimples, which is why they can be hard to detect.
If you do get an infection, it is easily treatable with a week dosage of antibiotics. Other things like ringworm can be treated using a topical cream, but you should see a doctor to get their opinion.
How to Prevent Getting Infections in Thailand
Cover up Your Wounds
The hot, humid weather in Thailand is a breeding ground for bacterial growth. If you have an open cut or scrape, you must cover it up. Even if you train at a brand-new camp that is clean and sanitized daily, there are still new people coming to the gym bringing their germs.
Make sure you put an antibacterial ointment on your wound, just to make sure that you don’t get any infection spreading.
Just because a gym is cleaned regularly, doesn’t mean you won’t get infected if you don’t. It is the people you train with, who are the most likely to give you an infection.
Another thing I should point out is that Thai trainers still work when they are sick. They aren’t given a free 2 weeks off just because of a little bit of a cold/infection. If you notice a trainer is sick, try passing up on a clinching lesson and avoid close contact. (This isn’t always possible)
Avoid Clinching/Sparring with Infected People
If you noticed your clinching partner is sick or has an infection, don’t clinch with them. Politely tell them that they probably need to avoid clinching until they get better.
When you notice someone with an infection, let that person know they might have an infection and shouldn’t clinch or spar until they get it checked out. You don’t have to be an asshole and embarrass that person publicly, just tell them in private that they shouldn’t be clinching.
Shower with Soap Right After Training
Most Muay Thai gyms have a hose/shower around the gym. Bring a bar of soap and the moment you finish your training session jump under the shower and wash your body from head to toe. Don’t wait until you are home because sometimes it may take 30+ mins to shower if you get delayed and start chatting.
Get into the shower and scrub yourself right away. This is your last-minute effort to get rid of any lingering stuff that you may have contact while you are at the gym.
Keep a Strong Immune System
Making sure you have a strong immune system is going to give you a better natural defense against virus/infections you may pick up at the gym. This means you need to maintain a good diet and try to get enough sleep so your body can heal itself.
You would be surprised how a strong immune can battle of viruses and infections. It shouldn’t surprise you that you are more likely to get sick when you are training hard and tired all the time. The weaker your immune, the easier it is to catch something around the gym.
If You Get Sick, Take Rest Days
If you are sick, stay home for a few days and get better. As much as you HATE missing a day of training, people will thank you for not making the entire gym sick.
I was feeling sick last week, so I didn’t train. Later in the week, I found out I had a Staph infection, which prevented me from spreading my infection to everyone at the gym.
If you train through your ailment, avoid working in close contact with people around you. If you know you have a cold, don’t clinch until you know that you are past the contagious stage of the cold. This will ensure you aren’t the culprit for spreading it around the gym.
You can still work on technique and improve your game, without going around and infecting the whole gym.
Sacrificing a few training days, so you don’t get others sick is the sign of a good teammate. Most fighters will train through minor things like a common cold (you can’t avoid colds), but if you have anything more serious, stay home and avoid spreading your sickness to people at the gym.