CrossFit Hands... you've seen them. Dry, callused, rough, and sometimes ripped through abuse and simple lack of maintenance.
But just like a car that’s driven without proper upkeep, your hands will fail you at some point if you’re not careful.
The price of ripped hands include a higher risk of contracting diseases, excruciating pain, and being kept out of the game for unnecessary amounts of time.
Ripped hands are not a “Badge of Honor”… They’re an injury.
A very preventable injury.
Follow these tips & tricks to stay in the game longer and keep your hands injury-free.
As you know, calluses are the protective layer of skin that builds up due to friction on our hands or feet.
This is a good thing! Your body is protecting itself by creating more skin cells in an area of a potential rupture.
The problem is when calluses get too thick that they can build up to a point where it can get “caught” on the bar, creating a tear or rip in your skin.
“But how do I know how much callus to remove??”
Remove too much of a callus, it will leave your skin feeling painfully raw, exposing too much new skin underneath.
Remove too little callused skin and you create too much friction making it easier to tear.
The solution is to create a “Goldilocks” layer of skin that is juuuuuuust right. With a thin layer of chalk, it should allow your hand to rotate on on the bar fairly easily while doing kipping pull-ups, yet also maintain a strong grip during Power Cleans & Snatches.
THE QUICK WAY: After a shower (soft/moist hands are best), use a Hand Callus Remover or Callus Shaver - This is more for advanced users who have used one before or are comfortable with using one. This is the fastest, most-efficient tool, but also can require some getting used to. But once you figure it out, it’s the best hand care tool on the planet. WODshop makes an awesome Callus Remover/Shaver.
Use a Pumice Stone - easiest to use, yet still very efficient. It works by scrubbing excess skin from water-soaked hands. These can be found in the WOD Repair Lotion Essentials Kit and w.o.d.welder Hand Care Kit.
I’ve even heard of people using a Dremel tool, Ped Egg, nail cutters. Use whatever you prefer, but make sure the layer of skin you leave is in the middle ground and “just right” for you.
This tip goes right along side Tip #1. After maintaining your calluses, you MUST continually moisturize them using hand lotion or cream.
Properly hydrated skin retains it’s elasticity making it stronger and less likely to rip.
Lotions are easy to access, but can be too “watery”. They’re great for overtime you wash your hands, but tend to not last long.
Hand Creams are great because they are thick enough to really moisturize deeply and stay that way.
w.o.d. Welder includes an awesome hand cream called Hands As RX - Handcare for Athletes in their w.o.d. Welder Hand Care Kit
There's also WOD Repair Lotion The Original Maintenance which is perfect on-the-go for dry, achy hands.
BTW, are you moisturizing internally by drinking enough water? Proper hydration is easily overlooked so make sure you’re drinking half your body weight in oz.
For example, if you weigh 128 lbs., you should be drinking 64 oz. of water… EVERY DAY!
Are you the box Chalk Monster?
Don’t be that guy or gal!
Think about it… chalk is intended to create more friction due to moisture such as sweat.
Too much chalk and you create too much friction, causing your skin to “catch” on the pull-up bar, barbell, or kettlebell. Catch enough skin with the friction and you’ve got yourself a fresh hand rip.
So how much chalk should I use?
Another great question!
Whether you’re doing deadlifts or olympic weightlifting such as cleans, snatches, kipping pull-ups, or muscle ups, here’s a quick guide:
Chalk your hands INSIDE the bucket, rub them together, and lightly clap a couple times.
Unless your palms get excessively sweaty, you probably don’t need to re-chalk.
If you’re doing pull-ups, the your grip should rotate easily in your palms.
SIDE NOTE: DO NOT rely on the kipping pull-up if you don’t have a strict pull up yet. Use a pull-up band and work on building pull up strength until you’ve got a few strict pull ups before using kipping pull-ups.
Another great tool I’ve used that’s helped me to chalk up ONLY ONCE during a WOD is IRONCLUB Liquid Chalk.
It’s literally chalk in liquid form, that when dry in seconds, acts as a “Super Chalk”. The good... less trips to the chalk bucket, the “downside” is less rest from trips to the chalk bucket ;)
Some people may think that using grips & gloves in CrossFit is “cheating”. I call it being smart.
What good are your hands if you can’t even use them properly? That’s right, practically useless if they’re all ripped up to shreds.
The key is finding a grip or glove that doesn’t affect your ability to get good hold of he bar.
Everything from your traditional Genuine Leather Gymnastics Grips, JAW Hand Grips made of Cloth, Wrist Wrap & Hand Grip Combinations such as Jerkfit WODies or WODshop PR3, and WODshop RX4 Gloves for full hand protection.
Gloves & Grips aren’t for woosies, they’re for people who train intelligently and want to stay in the game longer.
Remember, hand tears are INJURIES and should be treated as such.
Adequate time should be allowed for them to heal properly. Take care to prevent even further damage and/or prolonging the damage already done.
If you’ve already injured your hands, there are a few ways to help them heal faster, better, and stronger than before.
Cover & protect the wound when it’s fresh and still bleeding. When it’s safe to do so, let the wound heal openly keeping it moisturized with a natural balm or salve. Keeping it bandaged too long will slow down the healing process.
I know this isn’t practical for those of us who work in professional environments, but do so within reason of course. You don’t want that paperwork you just handed your co-worker to have a sample of your DNA included.
While giving your hands a much needed break, work on other areas of your fitness and keep your fitness momentum going:
Our hands are the most widely used body part in CrossFit besides our hips, which is why it’s so important to take care of them. When you follow these 5 Tips, you’ll be sure to stay in the game longer without unnecessary hand injuries. To summarize once again, here they are…
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