Hand Care, Don't Tear!
Take a moment and look at the palms of your hands right now. Are they callused or smooth? Do your fingers have calluses? Do you have ridges of dry skin? Do you have open wounds?
It happens, crossfitters get rips. And if you haven't gotten a rip yet, you've likely experienced hand pain and callused skin.
If you work with your hands, this information is even more important for you. Medical professionals, hair stylists, massage therapists, and those in food service.. I'm especially talking to you!
I'm here to talk about hand care, because there are actually some very effective and simple things you can do to prevent hand pain and rips! And if you do happen to get a rip, you can heal that wound and be back to doing pullups in 48 hours.
Preventative Hand Care
Work preventative hand care into your pre and post workout routine to keep your hands in prime working condition.
Before you work out, gently use a pumice stone or something similar to smooth out your hands. My favorite tool is the SandBar. You can curl your hand around it and get at the calluses on your fingers while you treat the palms of your hands. It even comes with the refills.
After smoothing out your hands, wash them with a gentle soap and warm water to make sure they are clean and the skin is not dried out.
Finally, take it easy on the chalk - a little goes a LONG way for your grip! Chalk increases friction between your hand and the bar. Too much friction causes rips. Need I say more?
After your workout, wash your hands again!
Finally, later that evening or even the next morning, smooth out your hands again as needed. I prefer to do this in the shower or under warm water. If you have ridges of calluses, you can gently shave them off using a callus remover. Be careful not to cut too deep. Removing just the surface of the ridge is enough, then you can smooth it out the rest of the way using your pumice stone or SandBar.
What to do if You Get a Rip
If you happen to get a rip; follow these steps carefully, and you'll be surprised how fast it heals.
Step 1: Stop doing whatever caused you to rip. Clean up any blood on equipment, according to your gym's protocol. Don't know what to do? Ask your coach!
Step 2: Wash your hands with gentle soap under warm water. Yes, it will sting, but this is important to
avoid infection! The sting will go away. After I wash my hands, I also use Bactine Spray to further cleanse the skin. We keep in on hand at all times here at CrossFit Fargo in the first aid drawer. Bactine also has pain relieving ingredients (once you get past the initial sting). Gently dry your hands.
Step 3: If there is a flap of skin still there, keep it for now! It will help the wound heal faster. Keep the wound moist and covered for the next 24 hours. Use an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, and cover with a cloth bandage. You want to keep your skin from drying out.
Step 4: After 24 hours, you might consider cutting the flap of skin off, but still keep the wound moist with periodic applications of ointment or hand salve. I've had really good luck with the WOD Welder hand salve and cream. Hand salve is helpful for when you don't have a fully opened wound anymore
and don't necessarily need to keep it covered. Make sure to cover your healing rip if you work a lot with your hands (or if you are working out, of course!). Avoid exercises on the pullup bar during the first 24 hours or so.
Step 5: After 48 hours, you can gently smooth out your hands again (including the ridges left from where you removed the flap of skin). You will still see evidence of your rip, but if you followed all the previous steps, you will likely be able to return to regularly scheduled programming.
As always, if you have any questions about your lifts or just want to chat, email me at email@example.com. I'd love to hear from you!