While sparring and moving around on the mat a lot, halfway through the training the skin under my big toes starts splitting. At the end of the training the split can get pretty big (~1cm) which makes it painful for me to move around and it takes around a week to fully heal.

I'm also afraid it might get infected at some point since my open skin is in contact with the mat the whole time. I have used kung fu shoes from time to time but they feel uncomfortable and I don't have the same grip.

None of the guys I train with have it and they keep saying that it's normal in the beginning and at some point the skin just hardens and stops splitting. However, I've been having this problem since I've started bouncing around and moving around my opponent more.

What can I do to stop/minimize this? I can't find any advice on how to deal with this.


2 Answers 2


This is a problem for me as well. This is usually due to friction tearing your skin open as you try to pivot.

  • Look for some shoes you can wear during training. Skeletoes work really well for me, but I usually split my toes due to hardwood, not mats. They do make mat-specific shoes.
  • Use "New Skin" or some other brand of liquid bandage to seal up your wounds I recommend doing this underneath any remaining skin that's still hanging. Many kinds of liquid bandage are actually anti-septic, thus disinfecting the area you apply it to. Stings, but worth it.
  • Tape your feet. Find the pivot points on your foot where you are most likely to tear and wrap them in a thin layer of tape. This will reduce the friction that's tearing your feet.
  • Toughen your feet by doing yardwork bare-footed.
  • I did tape my feet, but as I start sweating, the tape starts moving as well. I don't know if this happens because of pivoting, I have the feeling it's coming more from when I launch myself forward and the my back foot isn't usually flat on the mat. My heel is almost always off the floor so I basically push myself forward by using my big toe rather than the whole foot. I'll have a look at exercise to toughen my feet, yardwork is hard to find when living in the city. Thanks :)
    – Adrian
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 6:29

I second taping your toes. I use Johnson's & Johnson's athletic tape to tape my toes and I rarely have any issues with the tape slipping or falling off, in fact, I have to cut it off with a knife from time to time because it sticks so well. I pull enough tape to wrap around my toe about two or three times and fold one corner down so that I can remove it after class.

I cross train in Hap Ki Do and Judo, so I too push off with my toes or the ball of my foot but the tape holds up quite nicely.

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