Never Rip Your Hands Again
As a former gymnast turned crossfitter, I have literally tried EVERYTHING to prevent and treat ripped hands. Ill share a few key tricks to keeping your hands as rip free as possible:
Take Preventative Measures
Keeping your hands smooth and callous free is an absolute must. The calloused lumpy parts are what catch on the bar and cause you to rip in the first place.
The single most important tool is the callous shaver. The pumice stone cannot come close to the effectiveness of the callous shaver. To keep your palms smooth, shave off the callouses 2-3 times per week. Find time to put it into your schedule just like you do brushing your teeth.
During the Workout
There are many things you can do during your workout to help minimize your chances of ripping.
Chalk is a double edge sword. It is great for allowing you to maintain a lighter grip on the bar, but if you are what I like to call a ‘Chalk Monster’ then you may be doing yourself a disservice. Too much chalk can dry out your hands and make you more prone to ripping. The best method is to only re-apply when you no longer have chalk on your hands OR towel off your hands before re-applying.
Palms or Fingers?
Ask yourself, do you grip the bar from the palm of your hand? Gripping the bar in the palm of your hand will increase your chances of ripping due to all of the folds in your palms catching on the bar. Instead, try gripping the bar where your fingers meet your palm.
Thumb on top or around?
Is your thumb on top of or around the bar? Keeping your thump on top of the bar with your other fingers increases the movement of your hand around the bar. It also means you are most likely gripping the bar with your palm instead of palm/finger junction. Try wrapping your thumb around the bar. This will give you more stability in the shoulder (huge bonus) and it will keep your hand more fixed to the bar decreasing the friction. When using the wrap around grip, your hand should stay in place allowing your wrist to create the movement around the bar instead of your palm.
Gymnastics Grips are also a great investment. Many buy them to keep them from ripping, although it helps, that is not what they are intended for. When used correctly, they will dramatically improve your grip on the bar allowing you to stay on the bar longer. The bonus is that it may allow you to be on the bar longer before ripping.
Treatment for Rips
Blister vs. Rip
Blister: When you take care of your hands appropriately you will still get blisters from time to time, and may never rip again. A blister is a small tear of the top layer of skin, sometimes the skin doesn’t even break, you just get some fluid filled up under the top layer. Yes, a blister still sucks, BUT it definitely does not hurt as bad, and it only takes about 1 day to heal.
Rip: A rip occurs when the hands are lumpy and there are callouses built up. The callous will get stuck on the bar and rip off. The problem is, when it rips it tears off multiple layers of fresh skin too leaving a divot in your hand. These definitely hurt during, and after, and usually take about 4-7 days to heal.
Rip Plan of Action:
1. Wash it out: Make sure you clean the area well
2. Remove the skin: Cut the flap of skin as soon as possible, do not wait till later in the day to do this. The flap of skin can become a breeding ground for bacteria if not removed.
2. Keep the area moist: As a gymnast I used to use bag balm, and now I use Aquaphor. Both are great products and do the job. Make sure you keep the area moist throughout the day.
At the end of the day, we are crossfitters with varying degrees of volume and intensity in our workouts. Some days we are prescribed 40 pullups, others 120 toes to bar. The best way to deal with rips is to prevent them.