“What do you do with your hands? Don’t they hurt when you do weightlifting or hang from a bar?”, that’s one of common questions I get from CrossFit newbies. My first reaction is usually a smile in an understanding way, because I exactly know how they’re feeling. We all have been through this and it wasn’t pain free. If you haven’t ripped your hands at least once, it’s like you haven’t been baptized in the church of CrossFit. The truth is that ripped hands AREN’T COOL. Nobody wants to skip a week of training just because of ripped hands or take showers in rubber gloves for a week.
There are many tools that you can use to protect your hands like gloves, gymnastics grips or athletic tape. But this is not what this article is going to be about. If you try all of these you’ll eventually find out that the best thing for contact with the bar are BARE HANDS. Personally I don’t use any hand protection except for when I do bar muscle ups, when I use gymnastics grips. Your hands have to get used to it, your skin has to become harder and whatever you do, you’ll get calluses. Chalk in combination with dynamic movements makes the skin drier, so you inevitably need to take care of your hands. You can find interesting information on this topic in our article from 2012.
Always try to prevent ripping your hands even if you have to stop your training because of it. Yes, it’s only a training and it’s eventually not that important. If you are competing or doing a qualification workout, it’s different and it’s only up to you how you will decide in that situation. Remember that you can always scale the training to finish it, e.g. do ring rows instead of pull up or v-ups instead of toes to bar.
The best time to take care of your calloused skin is in the shower or right after, when your skin is swollen and soft. You can get the best tools in a drug store: pumice stone or callous removal plane. File down all your calluses so that you can’t feel any sharp edges on your hands. The skin will remain rough, but it will be evenly thick. That will protect your hands in your next workouts.
Moisturizing dry skin is an every day must, so that your palms will remain flexible and your skin won’t crack. The best time to moisturize your skin is before you go to bed, so that the cream can absorb well and your hands can recover over night. There are many creams and balms. Before you buy one, try to check out the ingredients. Only few don’t have water as their first ingredient (which means that this ingredient is represented the most). The best creams for dry skin are oily creams, so their first ingredient should be moisturizing, e.g. glycerin. My favorites are Mixa for rough areas, Cicaplast by La Roche-Posay and balm with beeswax by Oriflame.
If you are really serious about hand care, you can try to put on a “mask”. Cover your hands in olive oil and put gloves (made from breathable material) on over night.
If your hands rip regardless, the first important thing is to clean dirt and chalk out of them. Yes, that means water and soap and it will probably sting. It’s necessary to disinfect the wound and that’s probably the most unpleasant part. Next cut off the extra skin as close to the wound as you can. Put on some healing cream and put a plaster on, so that your skin is protected but can breathe at the same time. The wound has to remain clean and protected from the outside.
I personally tried a special treatment called Ript Skin Systems, that contains a special pumice stone, stick for everyday moisturizing of the skin and a healing cream for ripped hands. It’s a great product, that contains everything that every CrossFitter needs for his/her hand care.
Crossfit hands: perfect guide to preventing and treating rips; https://www.boxrox.com/crossfit-hands-how-to-prevent-and-treat-rips/
Ript Skin Systems; http://www.riptskinsystems.eu/