Hand Care at CrossFit T-Town


(photo from fitbomb.com)

So, as many of you have began to experience, torn hands, blisters, rips and the like are a part of the CrossFit life. A lot of you are beginning to get the first rips in your CrossFit career and despite feeling like a badass for a day, grossing out your friends and family and not being able to wash your hair for a week, rips are not fun. You are now unable to shower like a normal human being. Washing your hands turns into you staring at the faucet for an ungodly amount of time dreading the stinging pain it will bring and resorting to shampooing your hair with your fingertips and forearms so that the soap and water will not touch your open wounds.

So yes, you are a badass. But now it is time to take care of those falanges so you can continue to improve in all areas of CrossFit and not have to do “Nicole” with ring rows.

There are some basic tips and tools you will need to prevent future rips on your hands.

1. Don’t be a chalk whore. 

Chalk is awesome and especially when it is hot and sweaty outside it is a much needed thing. However, there is a small little formula we must think about.

Heat+chalk=more friction between your hands and the bar

More friction+your baby soft hands= rips the size of Texas.

Solution=Try to use a small amount of chalk to give yourself a grip on the pull-up bar but don’t grab for a mound of chalk after every other pull-up. It is a recipe for disaster.

2. Soft hands- although good for hand shakes and back massages are not good for pullups.

First, if your hands are soft, thin-skinned, or generally unconditioned, you must slowly and gradually build up your calluses to meet the demands of your exercise. Don’t overdo your hand intensive exercise while you’re building up the thickness and toughness of the skin, or you’ll just keep ripping your hands and not have a chance to develop good healthy protective calluses. (www.crossfitjournal.com).

Also, if you do rip during a workout, do not continue to do pull-ups. Grab a disinfectant wipe, clean your bar, wash your hands and switch to ring rows or dips. You do not want to continue doing the one thing that made your rip in the first place or more than likely your entire palm is going to rip off.

3. Grooming is key.

Once you’ve developed a tough and thick skin on your hands, it’s important to maintain the quality of the skin by keeping the surface well groomed. This means simply that the overall thickness of the skin on the hand surface is consistent throughout and the surface is smooth. Otherwise, over time, the calluses will have a tendency to get thicker in certain areas of the hand and not in others. You will develop “ridges” of thick skin that will eventually lead to a tearing of the skin and our beloved rips.

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. (www.crossfitjournal.com)

4. Essential Tools for Hand Care:

There are a few essentials you should have in your gym bag or in your medicine cabinet. First is a pumice stone. These moon rocks are great for keeping the calluses to a minimum. A few minutes with one of these every few days should keep things under control.

The second thing you want to get is a callus shaver. This tool is a little more heavy duty and is good for especially tough skin. If you have some serious calluses or are the type that only takes care of your hands when things get really bad, then you’ll want to invest in one of these.

The next thing you will want to invest in is some good lotion. You want to keep your hands moist because the frequent washing and use of chalk will dry them out and when dry skin cracks it is painful. CrossFit Virtuosity. 

There you have it. The first steps towards good hand maintainance. Next step is protecting your hands during a workout. This will include some things you can wear to help you prevent ripping and a cool way to make some pretty nifty tape grips.

Do you have any great tips that has helped you keep your palms from ripping? If so, share in the comments! We would love to hear how you protect your hangs.



Comments 5

  1. “Heat+chalk=more friction between your hands and the bar”

    “More friction+your baby soft hands= rips the size of Texas.”

    Chalk is a crutch don’t use unless you need.

  2. Here’s another perspective on tearing during pullups. This is part 2 of a video by Kelly Starrett and Carl Paoli about proper pullup form. At :44 of this video they briefly discuss tearing. While this might be a little technical for a lot of people, I thought it was area of the pullup grip that I haven’t seen discussed much anywhere else. I’ve tried it and don’t have the forearm strength at this point to hold the wrist position they’re demo, but I am trying to work up to it.


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