Taking Care of Your Hands
Taking Care of Your Hands
I fell in love with CrossFit six years ago. Along with that loves comes love for the pull up bar and barbell. Over my first year of CrossFit I would rip and heal, rip and heal and rip again. I felt a little bit of pride the first time my hand ripped from lots of pull ups. It’s almost like a rite of passage as a CrossFitter. After the third time it was, well, a big pain in the ass! Having open wounds on your hands is just like having another injury. Plus, it would keep me away from the pull up bar, made the barbell painful to hold therefore limiting my practice in the gym.
I can honestly say that since that first year it is very rare for me to rip my hands anymore. Now, I also don’t do as much volume in a day as Camille LeBlanc Bazinet or even our very own Kristi Emaro. But, I do enough to know I need to keep my hands taken care of so I don’t have to deal with an open wound for two weeks. Although I can’t guarantee that what I’m going to share with you will prevent another callus tear ever again, these tips will help decrease your odds of ripping open your flesh during your next toes to bar session.
Two types of hands are most susceptible to hand rips; soft hands with little to no calluses and then the opposite, too much callus. You want a happy medium. To protect your hands, avoid wearing anything over them and avoid using too much chalk. Let your hands develop some calluses. They don’t have to be large, but let some develop. “They form to protect the skin and the structures beneath it from injury or damage. While calluses are a layer of protection and a testament to hard work, excessive calluses can be troublesome and lead to injury.”
Maintenance Outside the Gym
Once you’ve developed some calluses the maintenance begins. You have to take care of them regularly. Get yourself a pumice stone, pedi egg and/or corn remover. I also have an electric Micro Pedi that Michael and I love to use. Moisturize them regularly. I like to use Burt’s Bees hand salve.
Good Grip and Technique
I can’t stress enough how important a good, strong grip is. Get your pinkie knuckle on top of the bar, wrap your thumb and hold on with intention. If this grip is what you normally use and your palm is your troublesome area, switch up your grip so the bar is more in the center of your fingers, but your thumb should still be wrapped around the bar. Furthermore, if you haven’t mastered kipping yet and you’re flailing around on the bar, stop doing that, make a better decision. If you have a big, wild aggressive kip you are going to create more friction between the bar and your hands leading to more tears.
How to Treat Hand Rips
The number one rule, LET THEM HEAL! Modify your workouts until they heal. The first thing you need to do when your hands rip is wash them with soap and water. I carry antibacterial spray with me as well. It helps prevent infection. Once you get home, cut the loose skin away. At night, slather your wound with Neosporin and slap on a powder free, vinyl glove. The glove is a big bandaid that won’t fall off. During the day try and keep it open to dry and increase the healing process. If you need to keep it covered because of work, just cover it with a bandaid, but keep it dry.
Remember, you can and should continue coming to the gym. You may have to modify, substitute or scale, but like with any injury, there are always ways to work around it. And yes, hand rips are considered another injury.
Have an awesome week!