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Taking Care of Hand-ness

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Let’s set the scene for a minute: You’re going to town on a workout. It’s running, box jumps and toes-to-bar. You’re killing it and on your last set of toes-to-bar when you suddenly notice a quick pain in your right hand. You look down and wince – there’s a hole right in the middle of your palm. It’s bloody and you’re in some serious pain, with toes-to-bar reps still to go.

While this scene may be a bit dramatic, we’ve all probably experienced a rip one way or another. Let’s face it, Crossfit is not too kind to our hands. We’re constantly gripping, twisting, kipping and moving, which puts a lot of pressure on the palms of our hands. And we can all agree that an injury like a rip, tear or blister, on your hand can be very troublesome. Not only are you constantly using your hands throughout the day, but it can also sideline your workouts for a few days. 

Though your hands are involved in pretty much every workout, hand care isn’t talked about a whole lot (with the exception of complaining about those rips or tears). So, for this month’s blog, we’re going to go over some easy ways to take care of those hands. 

Callus Care 

If you’re newer at Crossfit Liberate and new to Crossfit in general, you may not have experienced any rips to your hands yet. Unfortunately, they’re bound to come, especially after you’ve developed some calluses in those spots on your palms that are used the most. 

The problem with calluses developing is they open the opportunity for rips to occur, particularly during barbell movements and workouts where you’re doing something like kipping pull ups or toes-to-bar. Those thick calluses get pinched between your hand or palm and the bar, and with enough friction, that callus ends up ripping off. 

The experts recommend shaving those calluses as a great way to avoid this scenario altogether. It keeps those thick calluses smooth and prevents that pinching mentioned earlier. 

Shaving Things Down

First things first, the best time to shave down your calluses is after you’ve showered or taken a bath (or given your hands a good soak in some warm water). That way, the tough skin of your callus has a little time to soften. 

There are many tools out there for shaving your callus. You can use a razor, a pumice stone, or any other skin exfoliator or smoother. Essentially all it is, is removing that top layer of “dead” skin off of the callus. Usually, I do one to four light passes over each of my calluses to get them nice and smooth.  

Shaving isn’t obviously required, but it’s a great way to prevent rips from happening. And your hands will feel better for it during workouts – the bigger they are, the more they tend to get sore and bothered during a workout.

Rip Maintenance 

Maybe it’s too late for you, and you’ve already gotten a nice rip in your palm. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to care for these sores – the worst part is often washing your hands in some warm water following that first rip. 

If you’ve experienced a rip, the experts agree that the best thing you can do is take a break for a day or two. Of course, this doesn’t mean taking a rest day altogether. It just means that you should likely avoid workouts that involve your hands. A few days away from pull ups and cycling a barbell won’t kill you, and before you know it, that rip (or rips) will be healed!

You should also keep those areas clean during that time. When you have a rip, you have an open wound, so make sure you’re washing your hands regularly while at the gym and when you’re doing day-to-day things. 

Finally, a great tip from experts is to keep those rips moisturized! A little hand lotion or some ointment at night are both good options. There are also a number of Crossfit hand care kits out there that can help. At Crossfit Liberate, we have RipFix available at the front counter. RipFix is easy to apply throughout the day and keeps your hands moist so those rips can heal without drying, cracking and ripping again. A win-win! 

Adjust that Grip 

Experts agree a great way to protect your hands is by adjusting your grip depending on the workout. As Crossfitters, we know that our grip changes from exercise to exercise. For example, your grip will vary when you’re completing farmer’s carry versus when you’re cycling power cleans. 

You may not not spend a ton of time thinking about your grip, but believe it or not, the wrong type of grip at the wrong time – whether it be too loose or too tight of a grip – can tear or rip your hands during a workout.  

To help with this, you can adjust your grip as needed. If a slight adjustment at the top of your pull up keeps the bar from pinching your callus, then do it! A torn hand is a much worse consequence than the split second it takes to adjust your grip before you finish the last few reps on the bar.

Get Some Hand Grips 

We’ve all seen them in the gym. As soon as we start warming up those gymnastics movements, Crossfit Liberate coaches typically advise athletes to grab their grips. Gymnastics grips simply provide a second layer of protection and comfort for your hands. 

There are a lot of different brands out there to pick from in terms of grips, all of which serve different purposes based on your goals and have different fits based on your preference. If you don’t have grips but are interested in having some, talk to someone from Crossfit Liberate staff or even a more-experienced athlete in class, and they’ll steer you in the right direction!  

Don’t Ignore Those Hands

One of the biggest tips that the experts out there have when it comes to hand care is that there’s a time and a place to push yourself far enough to cause your hands to rip, and very rarely is it necessary. 

Destroying your hands during one workout can take away valuable training time while you wait for your injury to heal. The good news is that it was likely preventable in the first place and this month’s blog has hopefully provided you with a few tips to avoid any rips, tears or blisters in the future. And remember, taking care of your hands (and your whole body) outside of the gym is wildly important, but just as important is listening to your body while training.