They are the nemesis of CrossFitters everywhere. No matter how tiny they may be, they will stop you in your tracks….rips, tears, and blisters. We all know the dreaded feeling. There you are, crushing some pull ups, and then... you feel it. A hot spot. You try to ignore it, but know that just a few reps more will cause a dreaded hand tear. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop in the middle of a workout and drop off the bar because your hands hurt. So, what exactly can be done to avoid this awful predicament? Well, everyone seems to have their own theory of what works best. After trying almost everything possible, here are a few tips that I have found to work:
- Keep your hands moisturized! While chalk is essential, it also dries out your hands. Dry hands are more susceptible to cracks and tears. The best product I have found to keep your hands moisturized is Climb On! This amazing lotion bar not only works wonders on dry skin, but absorbs quickly so you don’t have any greasy residue. Lotion haters rejoice!
- Keep your calluses under control! When you let your calluses get too thick, a rip is inevitable. There are several methods for this. Some people are in the pumice stone camp, some people are in the callus remover camp, some people are in the straight razor camp, and finally others are in the dremel camp. After trying out all the options, I'm a believer in shaving your calluses. Stores like Walmart and Target sell special razors specifically for callus removal (they are about $5). While in the shower, and my calluses are soft, I just dig in and shave off all the excess dry skin. I'm a fan of this because of the way the razor curves; you can really push hard against your palm without fear of cutting more than you want. Others at the gym swear by the surgical razor method, which is just as effective. Just be careful you don't shave off more than you intended!
- Use Grips! People have very strong opinions on which grip they prefer. There is not a one size fits all. Options abound when it comes to this category: gymnastic grips, jaw grips, and natural grips just to name a few. I, currently, would recommend natural grips. They are thick enough to give your hands protection, yet thin enough that you can still “feel” the bar. The only drawback is that they do not last forever….depending on how much you use them, natural grips will last only a few months before they need to be replaced. Look around the box and see what people are using. Ask for opinions (since people tend to have a strong opinion on this subject) and choose for yourself.
- Be aware of how you hold the bar! This is my fourth and final tip. Pay attention to how you grip the bar. The bar should be placed high on your hand, where your fingers meet your hand. People tend to grip the bar more towards the middle of their palm. This type of grip inevitably results in nasty tears. Because the proper grip may initially feel less secure, my recommendation is to start with some bar hangs using the proper grip. Get familiar and confident with it; then start using it for your gymnastics movements. If you are unsure how you are gripping the bar…just ask us!
If you follow these tips, hopefully, your rips will be few and far between. When they do happen, make sure to take care of them! Place wet black tea bags on them to help heal, keep them covered if they are an open wound, and use lots of tape when you work out to let them heal.
And if you feel a tear coming on... do yourself a favor and stop doing whatever is causing it to happen. Tears shouldn't be treated as a badge of honor. All it's doing is causing you a headache and preventing you from returning to workout again!
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