Coach Shannon’s Tips for CrossFit Hand Care
After a few months of CrossFit, you might begin to see some changes in the palms of your hands. Holding onto the bar for pull-ups and toes to bar or lifting a barbell will start to roughen up the skin on your palms. Over time you will begin to develop calluses under your fingers and sometimes in the middle of your palm and around your thumbs. Calluses are good, but they need to be maintained to avoid the dreaded rip or tear that is inevitable if you don’t regularly take care of your hands. Tearing is extremely annoying and interferes with a lot of daily activities (not to mention CrossFit workouts the next few days!), so it’s best to avoid it if at all possible.
The ideal callus is firm to the touch, but not thick and bulging. A thick callus is more likely to get irritated and rip off, leaving an unpleasant crater in the palm of your hand. Having no calluses on the hand leaves you vulnerable for blisters, so finding a happy medium is key. Every experienced CrossFitter seems to have his/her own form of hand maintenance, so there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way. Here are a few steps I have found helpful over the years:
- Buy a large file from the drugstore. You’ll want to find something that looks like a long paddle with a piece of sandpaper on it. I bought my favorite one from CVS in the pedicure/foot care section (also sold on Amazon).
Use the file on dry hands as needed, especially before a workout that could cause your hands to tear.
- After filing your palms to a thinner callus, wash your hands and apply lotion. Keeping your hands moisturized throughout the day on a regular basis is important since they get so dried out from chalk at the gym.
- Tape your hands before a high-rep workout, if you didn’t get the chance to file your calluses down enough, or if your palms are feeling extra beat up and sensitive that day. For a two minute video on how to make tapes, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=j-IIfmXdrQs. If your thumbs get messed up from the hook grip, simply wrap a small length of tape ripped in half so that your thumb can still bend at the joint. You can also buy a stretchy, self-adhesive tape that can go over the joint.
- If you do rip, the first hurdle is figuring out how to carefully wash your hands (so much pain!) and the second is showering. The best solution for showering that I have found is to wear a rubber glove and secure it around your wrist with a rubber band or hair tie so water doesn’t get in.
- To heal a ripped hand, I like to keep a first aid ointment on it during the day, covered first with a Band-Aid and then a strip of tape wrapped around my whole hand to keep it on. At night, I take the Band-Aid off and let it air out. THIS PART IS GROSS: A lot of times when you rip, there is a little dangling flap of skin… I like to keep that flap at least a day or two and squirt ointment under it and press it closed before putting on a Band-Aid. Then I’ll cut it off carefully with nail scissors once it is dried out. If I have to workout the day after a rip, I like to keep the flap on as extra protection over the fresh wound! The palm of the hand heals incredibly fast. Once your wound has healed enough to not need a Band-Aid, apply lotion often. As the new skin forms, it will have a tendency to crack back open and delay the healing process if you do not keep your hands moisturized.
That’s it! Keep those hands under control so you can keep up the hard work!