A Hands on Approach
We use every single part of our body on a daily basis in CrossFit. With all of that use typically comes soreness and muscle tightness. If your quads are tight, we have foam rollers and the (not-so) beloved couch stretch to help deal with that. If your back is tight, we have the pigeon stretch and posterior chain stretch and to help alleviate all that nasty tightness. But what are two things that we use literally every single day that are seldom taken care of or given any attention? That’s right, our hands. Our hands take a beating every single day, whether we are doing clean and jerks, kettlebell swings, pull ups, even burpees, you get the idea. We have many ways to help fix soft tissue ailments from working out, so here are ways to prevent our hands from ripping, how to treat a ripped hand, and how to train with a ripped hand.
First and foremost, making sure your hands are properly moisturized with lotions that are free of dyes and lotions will help decrease the chance of separation between the callus and the layers that are beneath it. Dry skin is a callus’s biggest enemy, moisturizing lotions and/or salves are callus’s biggest ally. We carry CrossFIXE, which is a product filled with different oils and ingredients that our hands will love! It has unrefined beeswax, coconut oil extracts, myrrh, frankincense, many other organic extracts, and most notably, vitamin E. Vitamin E is essential for not just healthy palms, but healthy skin! Many users have noted that it has a very natural feel; something that isn’t too oily or greasy, rubs in easily, and only needs a moderate amount each application for it to be effective.
Aside from preventing them from getting too dried out, maintaining the height and size of the calluses is also important, but by doing it correctly (hint: gnawing them off is not doing it correctly). Pumice stones, callus files, callus razors/removers are tools that can be used to correctly and safely decrease the size of calluses. These are all best to do when the skin is soft and easily removable, so during or after a shower for example. It should be noted that if using a callus razor it is best to take a little off each time, and not the whole entire callus. If shaven too low and too much of the skin is removed, you might as well consider it a rip because your ability to grab onto a barbell or pull up bar will be hindered. I personally have done this on a few occasions and it does not feel pleasant. Along with all of this is chalk use, which is a double-edged sword. Chalk, in humble amounts, draws away moisture from your hands so you don’t need to grip the bar/implement tighter, which is good news for any existing calluses! However, too much chalk leads to more friction, which will eventually cause ripping.
How To Treat a Rip
So what happens if you do rip? First off, clean off anything with blood on it, including equipment. If the skin hasn’t broken and is a blood blister, let it run its course and try to keep it from popping as long as possible. If the skin has broken, remove the remaining skin by carefully cutting the skin on the far edges of the rip, washing with soap and water, then applying Neosporin or other antibacterial ointments that will help replace some of the natural oils your skin produces. The ingredients in CrossFIXE’s hand tube also speeds up the recovery process for damaged palms, which minimizes your time away from training. Blister band-aids are excellent when it comes to keeping an open blister/rip clean and free from debris.
Training With A Rip
Ripping your hands should not be something that is celebrated, even though many people within the CrossFit community see it as a right of passage. It essentially is a preventable injury, and takes away from training, along with another entry point for infection and other potentially harmful germs, so keeping it clean and covered during training is key. Gymnastics grips and athletic tape are two of the most common forms of hand protection used today. Gloves or other forms of hand protection that are loosely fitting increase friction, which is the exact opposite to what is desired.
Whenever we’re sore we take action to deal with whatever area needs attention. Our hands should be no exception to that because they literally connect us to our fitness. Remember that chalk can be your friend if used correctly, and your enemy when used incorrectly. Removing excess chalk from your hands during the workout is just as important as washing it all off as soon as your workout is done. If a rip eventually happens, wash it with soap and warm water, remove excess skin if it has ripped open, shave down the ridges so that they won’t be able to catch on an implement, and throw on a blister band-aid to keep it clean. We use our hands everyday, so maintaining them should also be an everyday thing. Preventative actions now will help later because you won’t have to take time or intensity out of training and it won’t impact your outside life. Keep them moisturized, level, and supple enough to endure all the work you put into getting stronger!