Rips, tears and bloody hands.
As much as I hate to say it, they’re just a part of being a Crossfitter.
Or, that’s what I used to think – that there was no alternative, and I just needed to toughen up and grit it out.
But I was wrong.
Through painful experience, I’ve come to understand that, even with the intense amounts of friction you are producing on movements like pull ups, muscle ups and hang cleans, it’s possible to train, shape and protect your hands so that you don’t have to go home with your hands wrapped in a towel.
And I want to share that knowledge with you.
The idea is to follow a double pronged program – you want to protect your hands, right now, during the WOD with rip/tear prevention, while also preparing them, daily, with regular hand care.
1. First things first – you’re most likely to tear your hands due to the bar moving around in your hands during a lift, so you want to get a good grip and cut down on the slip.
The most basic way to do this is to use some form of chalk or liquid chalk. Chalk will not only improve your grip, but it also helps to reduce your sweating and keep your hands dry for longer, which is a pretty good place to start.
2. Beyond simple chalk, I recommend using Average Broz Stretch Tape for your thumbs.
Using thumb tape is a great move, to protect yourself in the hook grip you use for your cleans and snatches. This particular tape locks in this grip style and really protects your thumbs from damage.
3. My best advice, though, is to get yourself a set of these Chasingbetter Diamond Hand Grips (V3), the mack daddy of hand grips.
Comfortable and grippy, these will protect your hand in all the most important places. With each new version, we have tweaked the design, and I honestly believe these are the best grips on the market now for both strength and comfort.
They’ll also save you time, as they require no chalk, so there’s no time wasted re-chalking between lifts.
So, now you’re protecting your hands, and hopefully that’s helping cut down on the damage, but it’s only half the battle – like my dad used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, so if you want to get ahead of the game (and stay there), you’re going to need to start caring for your hands outside of the box as well.
So, hand care.
How, you may be asking? Well, first off;
1. The more your work out, the quicker you are going to produce calluses on your hands. These areas of toughened skin can be your best friend…but they can also be your worst enemy, turning on you mid-WOD.
The best plan is to keep them tidy and under control, and the best time to do this is just after a shower – they’ll be nice and soft, and a whole lot easier to deal with.
Using a nail file or a pumice stone (some thrill seekers have been known to use a razor blade, but I wouldn’t recommend it, personally), simply file down any excess, dead skin.
How do you know what’s the right amount? Simply go until your hand still feels firm and thick, but is now smooth and consistent, with no more hard edges.
2. Now, that said, all the filing in the world isn’t going to be enough though, if you don’t take care of your paws after they’re nice and fresh.
For this, you’re going to want a good moisturiser, like Paw Paw or Steph Stuff.
Pawpaw is a great ingredient in a moisturiser, being naturally rich in anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial properties, all things you’ll want for those ripped (or hopefully not ripped, because you’re looking after them) mitts.
Other ingredients to look for include things like healthy butters (she, cocoa, etc), natural oils (tea tree, jojoba, coconut, sandalwood amongst others) and many companies swear by the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of other ingredients like beeswax and camphor.
The main thing you want though is a good, non-oily moisturiser that is going to help keep your hands soft, yet strong, and also create a good seal over the skin, for those days when you’re healing up.
And now you’re well on your way – you’re protecting your hands in the box, and you’re keeping them in great shape outside of it…with the added benefit that your significant other will love your new, strong yet gentle, paws.
And that’s what I call win-win.