With all the pull-up bar work lately (hello Tuesday's WOD!!), our hands are getting a little beat up. At first you feel prideful at the rough calluses on your hands, showcasing your barbell work and time on the pull-up bar. But as these turn into rips & blisters, you realize these injuries to your hands actually keep you away from the pull-up bar and make the barbell too painful to grip. Your hands are a very important part of the training process!!
The best way to care for your hands is to prevent rips in the first place! In practice (daily WODs) there is no need to push to the point of ripping open your hands...competition is another story. Huge rips and blisters are NOT worth it, as they negatively affect your next workout(s) and possibly even job/chores.
Rips, blisters & tears are caused by friction between your hands & the bar. This friction is going to happen the more you handle the bar and the harder you work. This friction will also build up calluses. As those calluses get bigger, the rough, bumpy, skin gets caught and causes rips. Excessive use of chalk (which dries out your hands!) and/or excessive moisture (super sweaty hands!) also causes rips.
There are all sorts of athletic tapes, gymnastics grips, gloves, etc. Some work better than others and each person usually has a preference, or you may find gloves/grips don't help at all. Some of our favorites are the Natural Grip or the Rogue Gymnastics Grips. That being said, the smooth, chalky feel of the bar in your hands is usually what is most comfortable and better for movement.
A better way to protect our hands is proactive prevention.
Create a regular (daily) habit of hand maintenance to reduce friction points 1) keep your hands smooth by shaving those calluses with a pumice stone or callus shaver 2) keep your hands hydrated using coconut oil, bag balm, udder balm, Burts Bees hand salve, etc to avoid dry, cracked skin. It is recommended to apply (your favorite) restorative moisturizer every night before bed, to keep the calluses soft and return moisture to your hands.
Change the way you grip the bar, relaxing that death grip & moving the bar into your finger tips, so that less of your skin contacts the bar. Also slow down and break the reps up into fewer sets. Or modify the exercise if those changes don't help. Modifying the exercise will still give you similar reward but will keep your hands healthy. A little bit of chalk or a towel can be used to keep your hands dry and smooth.
Treating a Rip:
Prevent infection by keeping the wounds clean and use a salve or topical antibiotic. If the rip is large & bloody, keep it covered with gauze and a self-adhering wrap. Wearing grips/glove while healing can be helpful, or just limiting bar work. Rips on hands are just like any other injury and they take time to heal.
Other option: just suck it up buttercup ;) Bahaha.
Sources: Coach John, Coach Dave, Coach Chris, Coach Lauren & boxrox.com
Special thanks to my husband Jason for allowing me to use a picture of his hand (9 blisters people!!).
Thank you for realizing you need to take care of your hands!!
Now get those blisters healed so you can help with the dishes again.
See folks, hands are important!! :)