Ahhhh CrossFit hands.
As soon as you fall in love with the feel of a barbell, you develop calluses and tears. You've probably ripped and healed and ripped again. You may even have felt pride and awe the first time your hands bled from too many pull ups. But after that you've probably realised the injuries to your hands keep you away from the pull up bar and made the barbell painful to hold.
The best treatment for a rip is to prevent it.
Every day is about hand maintenance, not just fixing the rips when they happen.
Start with adjusting your grip
Although adjusting your grip on the bar won’t completely prevent callouses, it will reduce them. If you currently grip the bar with your palm, try gripping the bar at the base of your fingers. This way less skin is compressed between the bar and your fingers, and you’re able to move with the bar more easily.
How you work the bar is key here. Try re-gripping at the top of a pull up and avoid death gripping the bar if you can.
The combination of bars and chalk and friction make the development of callouses unavoidable. The more we work, the bigger and harder our callouses become. Chalk dries out our hands and causes roughness. Rough, hard skin gets caught on the bar and rips.
So how do we prevent our callouses from turning on us mid WOD?
File them down or shave them.
Use a pumice stone or, if you have callouses that are like leather, you may need a razor. A good time to file your hands is after a shower when your callouses are a bit swollen and soft. File until you no longer feel hard edges. Your skin will still be thick, but it needs to be smooth and consistent. You can buy razors from supermarkets or chemists - you just need a single razor blade, not a razor that you would use for shaving ladies! Think of the razors they use to exfoliate your feet at a pedicure. Be careful not to go too deep or nick yourself...goes without saying really.
2. Apply a moisturiser.
Applying a moisturiser before going to sleep every night is also a good idea. Paw Paw ointment is also a great one for recovering sores and rips.
And yet, when we do rip (although we swear we’ve followed all this great advice)…
3. Ripped hands: clean first.
Wash your rip with soap and water. (And wash the barbell – or rig – too. No one wants to share your hand slime or blood!) Cut away the skin as close as possible to the rip. Leftover skin gets hard and will catch on the bar to cause another rip. Pack in a salve (like paw paw ointment), and really pack it in! Then wrap your hand in some gauze. You want to protect the tear but also get some air in. The idea is to keep it clean, treated and covered.
Note to self: You have to keep treating your hands while they heal. “Athletes make the mistake of not treating a rip like a real injury. Your hands need to recover just like the rest of you.”
And how do we protect our hands while they’re healing and still get some time in at the box?
You can make some grips from athletic tape. Google “how to wrap hands” for different methods. Making your own grips to use them for WODs with a lot of bar work can also help prevent rips. Check out the illustration below...
Of course, you might have already found yourself a great set of hand grips, there's certainly more coming out on the market. It's just about finding the right set for you!
Whether you're a bare hander or a gripper, hopefully these tips will help you keep care of your hands and allow you to complete many more Ange's, Fran's and Cindy's for years to come!