Hand Care and Dealing With Rips In CrossFit
Dealing with hand rips, tears, callouses, blisters is one of the most annoying parts of being a crossfitter (or gymnast). When you see how badly a crossfitter’s hands can get beat up and the number of hours they train, you quickly realize the importance of great hand care. Try doing 100 pulls or ring muscles ups with ripped hands!
In this article we’ll take a look at two part of hand care. Fist we’ll look at what to do once you’ve had a hand tear, in-case you’ve hand once recently. Then we’ll discuss best practices to avoid tears, which is the best way of managing healthy hands.
For now, let’s look at what to do when the rip has occurred.
How To Deal With Rips
Once a rip occurs, stop. Don’t be that guy who leaves blood on the equipment in an attempt to appear tough! Wash your hands immediately. Any gym, I don’t care how clean it looks, contains way too much bacteria to take that risk of infection.
Step 1: Wash It With Soap
Use a regular hand soap, feel the burn, and be sure to get all the bits of chalk out of there as well. Pat the area dry using a fresh paper towel.
Step 2: Trim The Skin (optional)
This step is optional. We learn about getting rid of the excess skin using disinfected scissors from our gymnastics friends. Ask someone with a steady hand for help with this. Be careful not to cut too close to the good skin!
Step 3: Keep The Area Clean and Covered.
Add some ointment to the area to keep it moisturized. A common one like Neosporin, polysporin; these all have bacteria fighting properties and moisturizing properties. Keep it covered very lightly, including during sleep to help keep the ointment in place, and the area clean and clear. You can use a sock, glove or bag to cover the area while you sleep to avoid rubbing the ointment away. This will help speed up the process.
You might also try some tricks that gymasts swear by. Preparation-H is apparently a great pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, which works wonders on torn skin. It aids the healing process more quickly than other creams. There is also the tea bag method. Using a used black tea bag, once it is cooled. Simply place it on the affected area for about 20 minutes or so. The tannic acid in the tea is an effective pain reliever. Another great, natural alternative is Vitamin E oil. Pop open a capsule of oil with a pin, and squeeze out a few drops over the injury.
Step 4: Protect The Area While You Train!
Do not be too eager to jump back into full-scale workouts. Avoid pull-ups, Toes to Bar and muscle ups while your wound heals. This is my biggest piece of advice… allow your skin tissue the time to heal before risking tearing it apart again. Just like muscles, it requires nutrients and rest to heal correctly and completely. To avoid another premature tear may take one or two extra days avoiding certain movements. In the end, you’ll save yourself big time.
There is no glory in rushing back to training with torn hands. Not letting a wound heal is just bad practice. Like a muscle that needs to heal in order to grow stronger, you will need to rest the skin to allow the tissue time to heal stronger than before.
Preventing rips and tears from recurring
Once the skin is completely healed, you can return to training. Even if you are not fully healed, you might decide to return anyways. If so, be sure to protect your wound properly. Use bandages, tape and leather grips for this.
1. Scaling and Gripping Correctly.
Feel a tear coming on? Stop the movement! Adjust your grip to get the most repetitions out of it. Athletes with a weaker grip strength tend to hold the bar in the palm rather than at the base of the fingers. This causes more pinching and pressure where callouses have formed. Move your grip lower to the base of the fingers, perform fewer reps in a row, and build up grip strength to minimize tearing and ripping. Sometimes we have to take one step back to take two steps forwards!
2. Sand Down Your Callouses
Use a pumice stone or nail file to file down your callouses before they get so big that they tear off. The bulkiness of a callous is what makes them worse. Filing them down stops them from being bulky and reduces the chances of them getting trapped between you and the bar and consequently being pulled off.
3. Use Grips/Liquid Skin
Finally, cover up sensitive areas using bandages and tape or even something like liquid skin. This is particularly important when you are attempting WODs that are Pull up or T2B heavy and rips are still in the end stages of healing. Leather grips designed for gymnastics are also a good option. There are so many styles and brands out there, so try out a few to see what works best for you. That being said, most people prefer to go bare skin because the amount of sensation lost is too difficult to get used to.
4. Moisturize Daily!
Just keep in mind that hand care requires daily maintenance. Rather than waiting for something to happen, moisturize and scrub hands at the end of each day as a part of a routine. Shea butter or coconut oil are great ways to help keep skin soft and happy!