Hand rips and tears are common in CrossFit (and other functional fitness), and therefore proper CrossFit hand care is important, because those nasty rips and tears will only slow or stop your training for a week or more, and you don’t want that.
In this feature on CrossFit hand care, we look at ways on preventing hand rips and tears, taking care of annoying calluses, and treating those painful hand rips and tears when they happen.
CrossFit Hand Care
Preventing rips and tears
Prevention is better than cure, so obviously your first course of action is to stop those rips and tears from happening. Here are several ways to reduce chances of ripping and tearing:
- Allow your hands to get tougher by handling bars (Olympic weightlifting bars or pull-up rigs/bars). Through regular training you will toughen-up your hands, however, calluses that naturally form which are not cared for can still rip and tear – we cover taking care of calluses further down.
- Learn how to tape up your hands for workouts. Read our comprehensive feature on how to tape your hands to prevent them from ripping.
- Use chalk during your workouts; it allows for better grip and reduces the chances of ripping and tearing.
- Keep your hands moisturised. Dry cracked hands will rip and tear a lot easier; keeping them well moisturised before and after training, and especially in winter, is a good idea.
- Use the correct grip during workouts. Eliminate as much friction on the bar(s) by gripping it with your metacarpals in-line with your proximal phalanges (see the image below).
Taking care of calluses
Ideally, your hand should not have any unnatural bumps or ridges, in the form of calluses, as these will create friction, resulting in blisters or the callus being ripped or torn off in workouts.
Our best advice is to sort out your calluses when you shower or bath – that thick skin of the callus will be “swollen” and softer. You can then either use a pumice stone to gently sand them down, or another great and really effective way is to shave them down with a double- or triple-bladed razor – it works incredibly well. When using a razor, be careful, obviously, and only shave over the callus area until it is basically gone.
Whether you use a razor or a pumice stone, don’t reduce it down too much; leave enough thick skin to maintain an even and consistent thickness of hard skin throughout the entire palm, so to still be able workout comfortably after.
Those are our top options, but some people also use sandpaper, a nail file, callus/corn shavers or cuticle scissors to do the same thing.
Treating rips and tears
Here’s a step-by-step guide you can use:
- Firstly, clean your hands well, using an antibacterial wash/soap, if possible. Dry your hands properly afterwards.
- If you decide to cut away any flapping skin (i.e. the dead skin), do not rip it off! If you rip or tear it off, you’ll likely be left with a deeper rip at the base where the skin was still attached.
- Best practice is to actually leave that skin there – it kind of acts like a natural Band-Aid – it will protect the sensitive skin underneath, until it dries and then you can cut it neatly away/off.
- Here is where the fun starts (for anyone watching). Get some Friar’s Balsam from a chemist. Using an ear bud (Q-tip), soak it and gently dab it on the open rip or tear, ensuring you get the whole open wound covered. It is going to sting like hell, so be warned. It will dry the wound quicker and ensure a faster recovery. You can add it on a regular basis (once a day), until it heals 100%. Ensure you still keep your hands well moisturised throughout this healing process.
- Keep the rip or tear covered with a Band-Aid, to avoid any dirt getting into the wound.
We’ve given you a few great tips to helping you with your CrossFit hand care. Make sure you take care of your hands and avoid painful training with ripped or torn hands, or having to miss training or certain movements because you’re a mess.
Do you have any other tips you would like to add that have helped you with your CrossFit hand care (or similar)?