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Train Clean. Why Good Hygiene is Essential to Your Performance

As an elite athlete, you're no stranger to the rigors of intense physical training and competition. But did you know that good hygiene habits are just as important to your athletic performance as your workouts?

As an athlete, you face unique challenges when it comes to hygiene. You sweat profusely during exercise, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Shared locker rooms, showers, and toilets are not always the most hygienic environments, and it's essential to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from infections and illnesses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 80% of all infections are transmitted by hand contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. This means that practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and keeping your equipment clean, can go a long way in reducing your risk of illness and infection as an athlete.

Here are some of the common hygiene-related health or infection issues that athletes may face:

  1. Skin Infections: Athletes who share equipment or come into close contact with other athletes are at risk of developing skin infections such as ringworm, athlete's foot, and impetigo. These infections are caused by bacteria and fungi that thrive in warm, moist environments, such as sweaty gym clothes and equipment.

  2. Respiratory Infections: Athletes who participate in sports that require close contact, such as football and wrestling, are at a higher risk of developing respiratory infections such as the flu and colds. These infections are easily spread through coughing and sneezing and can lead to missed training sessions and competitions.

  3. Gastrointestinal Infections: Athletes who share water bottles or consume contaminated food or water are at risk of developing gastrointestinal infections such as norovirus and E. coli. These infections can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can be debilitating for athletes.

two Olympic wresterls
wrestlers and other combat sport athletes can be at risk for skin infections.

By practicing good hygiene habits, you can reduce your risk of these and other hygiene-related health issues. Here are some tips to help you maintain good hygiene:

  1. Wash Your Hands Regularly: Washing your hands is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Use soap and water, and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after training, meals, and using the restroom.

  2. Shower After Training or Competition: Showering helps remove sweat, dirt, and bacteria from your skin, reducing your risk of developing skin infections. Use warm water and soap to wash your body and hair thoroughly.

  3. Keep Your Equipment Clean and Dry: Your equipment, including your athletic gear, shoes, and towels, can harbor bacteria and fungi. Wash your gear regularly and dry it thoroughly after each use.

  4. Don't Share Personal Items: Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, water bottles, and razors, as these items can easily transmit germs and bacteria.

By incorporating these simple habits into your daily routine, you can reduce your risk of illness, maintain healthy skin, and improve your athletic performance. Remember, even small changes in your hygiene habits can make a big difference in your performance and overall health. So, make good hygiene a priority and watch your performance soar!


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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives. Retrieved from

  • Dever, L. T. (2018). The Importance of Hygiene in Athletics. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 40(4), 102-104. doi: 10.1519/ssc.0000000000000393

  • National Athletic Trainers' Association. (2017). Skin Infections. Retrieved from

  • O'Connor, F. G., Campbell, W. W., D'Alessandro, D. M., et al. (2010). Infections in Athletes. Sports Medicine, 40(10), 859-878. doi: 10.2165/11536580-000000000-00000

  • Ryan, M. F., & Saunders, N. (2016). Hygiene practices in elite football and rugby union: Evaluation of RugbySmart and The 11. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(19), 1181-1182. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096844


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