HANDCARE 101

Flayed skin is not a badge of being a bad-A. It does not mean that you are tougher or better at working out. And it most certainly does not mean that CrossFit, lifting and/or gymnastics should be avoided because of the possibility that the skin on your hands might get torn. 

Some CrossFitters  revel in the fact that they’re workouts have bloodied our hands.  ” I’m SO hardcore!”  But really it’s NOT “COOL” TO HAVE CHUNKS OF OUR SKIN RIPPED FROM OUR HANDS.  Grip and  shoulder, elbow, and wrist mobility play a huge factor in it but that’s another topic to be written about all together.  Here are a few thing to think about and ways to take care of your hands so you can function normally and not walk around like a lobster pinching everything in order to not have your palms touch… :P  Hope it helps.

 

First thing is defining the areas of your hands:

If you have ripped your hands in a workout it normally means:

  • You’re a soft-handed newbie who hasn’t yet had the chance to build up thicker skin (calluses) on your fingers and palms to protect them from tearing.

Side bar: Calluses- meaning exactly what was stated above, thicker skin.  Not large hard, dry, cracked chucks of skin.

  • You’re not giving your hands the T.L.C. they need to keep from getting shredded.

Torn skin is painful and annoying, and may put you out of commission from doing pulling movements for a little while.  But of course there are always modifications, but who wants that…

and THAT is unequivocally un-hardcore.

There are tons of treatment options available to those unfortunate enough to gash open there hands doing high-rep pull-ups, kettlebell snatches and other things that are awesome.  And don’t worry everybody has experienced this on some scale or another.


Hand Grooming 

Those of you that may be new to gymnastics, weightlifting or CrossFit in general often start with soft, callus-free hands.  Ideally, to reduce the likelihood of hand tears, beginners should try to gradually build up calluses (through — what else? — handling bars) to the point where the skin on their palms and fingers are tough and thick — but smooth and well moisturized. Once some skin-thickening is achieved, the goal is to keep any calluses filed down. The goal is have a consistent, smooth palm surface, without noticeable ridges or fluctuating thicknesses of skin. A raised, rough callus will eventually blister and tear away from the surrounding skin, ripping open your hands and making a bloody mess.

A general rule to go bye: If you can pinch a raised edge of the callus, it needs to be filed down. Constant vigilance and regular hand care is key to preventing tears.

You can use a number of different tools to keep your calluses in check, including:

  • A nail file;
  • thin scissors;
  • Swiss army knife scissors;
  • A callus/corn shaver;
  • Cuticle scissors;
  • A pumice stone;
  • Sandpaper;
  • A butter knife; or
  • A Dremel tool(!)

Obviously, use with care.
As one CrossFit Journal article put it:

Ideally, your entire palm surface should be one thick callus with no bumps or ridges in any one particular area. In order to do this, groom your hands always after a hot shower or bath (this allows the calluses to swell up). While the calluses are still “swollen,” Shave the dead callus bumps down a little at a time until the bumps are about even with the thickness of the rest of the hand. With younger fire breathers/ members, simply get a pumice stone and gently sand the callus down even with the rest of the skin. Remember, whenever you groom or shave your calluses; don’t overdo it, since you don’t want to go too deep into your skin. Always leave enough thick skin so to facilitate your workout the following day. The goal is to maintain an even and consistent thickness of hard skin throughout the entire palm.

Also: Lube up your hands. Chalk and frequent washing will suck the moisture right out your skin, and dry, cracked hands do not feel awesome. Lotion is important for skin care.

This, by the way, is what a well-groomed pair of CrossFitting hands are supposed to look like:

No Picture can’t find one. I will get back to you on that:
My hands don’t look like this. Being the idiot that I am, I’ve never been very consistent about filing down my calluses, and lately, I developed a few big ones with rough edges. I didn’t do anything about ‘em, and as a result, I tore ‘em wide open yesterday. Not fun.

In turn the reason for this informative page about hand care.

Grip & Technique 

A lot of CrossFitters rip open their hands doing high-rep bar movements: kipping pull-ups, clean-and-jerks, snatches, or toe to bar. But there are ways to tweak your technique to reduce the chances of a nasty tear.

First, USE THE RIGHT GRIP.

When working with a barbell, some folks are inclined to grip the bar across the middle of their palms. This, unfortunately, squishes the fleshy pad below the base of your fingers against the bar, causing discomfort, added friction, blisters, and worse. A better way to go is to grip the barbell across the base of your fingers — where the metacarpals meet the proximal phalanges. Check out Mark Rippetoe’s explanation of how to grip a bar properly:

Also don’t be afraid of making a grip:

Tape Hand Grip

Great Video on how to make tape handgrips

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