Hand Maintenance: Guide to Preventing and Treating Rips and Tears - Holy City CrossFit

Hand Maintenance: Guide to Preventing and Treating Rips and Tears

By Joe Reava | CrossFit

Overhead view of man sitting on ground next to barbell with torn callused hands

Ever been through a tough workout and had your hands tear from gripping a bar or weight? This is something that can be extremely frustrating, and believe me, I’ve been there! I can still remember a workout that I did out in Murfreesboro, TN that was labeled as an endurance WOD.

There were over 100 kettlebell swings, and by the end I had 2 blood blisters and a ripped callus…on both hands! That was when I said enough was enough and decided to figure out how to stop the bleeding, literally. 

Occasionally, you’ll encounter people who show off their torn hands with pride. Do not be this person. All this shows is that they do not know how to do proper hand maintenance in order to prevent tears from happening, and they don’t treat them properly once they’ve already torn.

No more ripping! Here’s how to treat current rips and prevent future rips, in four easy steps.

Step 1: Smooth those puppies down.

There are several awesome tools out there for this, but my favorite one is the PedEgg. One part of it has this metal screen that looks a bit like a cheese grater, and the other side has an emery board surface. 

Just after showering, use the grating side first to rough off any extra dead skin, and then use the emery board as a shaping tool. You goal is a long, smooth callus without ridges, especially around your finger joints.

Remember, you’re not looking to remove the callus – you need it! You’re just looking to smooth the extra, rough dead skin off.

Step 2: Moisturize.

Find a good moisturizer to keep your hands supple. Something like Lucas Pawpaw Ointment, Bag Balm, or Neutrogena works best.

Apply after Step 1, but also regularly when your hands are feeling dry. Dry skin = cracked skin, which leads to tears!

Step 3: Avoid excessive chalking. 

Chalk should be used to dry the hands in a workout, not to turn your hand into something resembling the white glove that Michael Jackson used to wear.

Try alternating chalk with toweling your hands dry to reduce the drying effect that chalk has on your skin. If your hands become too dry, the skin could crack and then you have a whole other problem.

Step 4: Learn the best way to grip.

Whether its the rig, a barbell, a kettlebell, or something else, knowing the right way (and using it!) is essential to keeping your hands in good working order.

This method will take time to strengthen, but will save your hands in the long run. Personally, it took me a couple of weeks to get used to it, but then it became normal and I’ve been using it ever since.

When appropriate, grip the implement primarily in the first knuckle of your fingers (as indicated by the red arrow in the picture below), and not in the middle of your palm. If you grip the bar in the middle of your palm, it will essentially squish the calluses of your upper palm, stretching them out and causing them to tear, but if you grip in the first joint of your fingers, that pressure goes away.

For more help on how to work on your grip to keep your hands in working order, talk to your coach or book a 30-minute skill session here!

Share the Love!