There were a few ripped hands last week, and I was asked how to care for them. I’ve ripped my hands once or twice, so I’ve learned some things over the years, have heard crazy home remedies, some that work and some that don’t.
First of all, your hands rip because of nasty combination of sweat and friction on the pull-up bar. If you rip your hands, chances are your grip on the bar is wrong – your hands (in theory) should not rotate around the bar ever. In practice however, none of us are expert gymnasts, our hands move and rip. There are some things you can do to prevent the tears in the first place with daily hand care.
There are a ton of tools and gadgets available to help with hand maintenance. You want to find one that works best for you and “shave” down the calluses every day because the less chance they have to build up, the less likely your hands are to rip.
I’ve tired them all, and here’s the low down on what I’ve found (all of these are available at Target):
These two are the first two tools I tried out a couple of years ago. The one on the right has an actual razor blade in it and allows you to literally shave your skin. When I bought it, I had read about it on the CrossFit.com boards and heard it was money. I used it in the shower, which I don’t think you are supposed to do, and there should really be a warning label on the package. The blade flew off and was a trip to the ER waiting to happen. I threw it in the trash.
The one on the left is ok to use in a pinch. I will hit the big spots but doesn’t do a super great job getting in the creases of your palm. I’ve had a couple of these, and they wear out pretty fast. They do an ok job.
Next, I moved on to the tool in the center. Because of the way it is shaped, it really gets in the nooks and crannies of your hands. I used this until it broke. It’s really a pretty good tool. I found I only used the end with the cheese grater side and file; the pumice stone and brush are there just for looks 🙂
The most recent tool I bought was this handy gadget, and of all of them, this one is my favorite. It is so AMAZING and really keeps my hands in good shape. Of all of them, I would recommend this one the most. Of course, it is the most expensive ($7), but it’s worth every penny.
If you happen to rip your hands (and we all do), the best thing you can do is clean it (with peroxide or rubbing alcohol), trim off any skin, put neosporin on it, and KEEP IT COVERED. Cover it for WODs especially, but you will want to keep it covered 24/7 with neosporin. If you keep it covered, it will heal much, much faster. Stay off the pull-up bar for a few days, and let your hands heal.
If you have a WOD where you develop blisters (but they don’t actually rip), you want those blisters to dry out. A neat trick that I heard was to soak your hands in warm salt water. The salt will draw the moisture out and keep it from ripping. Stay off the pull-up bar for a couple of days, and the blisters will go away. Use one of the tools above and keep your hands in good shape!
Let’s hear from our veteran CrossFitters – what do you guys do to care for your hands? Post thoughts to comments.