Hand Care

I completed "Murph" about four days ago and ripped my hands, as I'm sure a lot of you did. With that amount of pull-ups, it's hard not to. It's a lot of volume. I hadn't ripped in quite a while, though. I take pretty good care of my hands and only ripped because I was stupid and didn't wear my grips. Thus, as I'm now thinking about how I could have easily prevented this, I wanted to share some tips with all of you.

#1 Don't think you are the exception.

Don't let your ego make any of your decisions for you. Wear the grips, use the chalk. Protect your hands in any way you know how because one bad rip can limit you abilities within the gym for over a week. It hurts, and it sucks. Not being able to pick up a barbell for a week puts you in a really bad mood! Listen to your brain, not your ego! You'll thank yourself later.

#2 Grips

Find a good pair of grips and keep them in your gym bag at all times. It won't be necessary to use them in every workout but you'll be glad to have the option. If you take care of your hands in other ways, grips will only be necessary during workouts with high volume like "Murph." However, always having them nearby is a good idea in case of emergency.

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Finding a good pair that fits well can be difficult. Personally, I use WODies. My brother uses a pair he purchased from Bear Komplex that he really likes. Both are 3-hole hand grips and cover a large portion of the palm. WODies also have built in wrist support, which helps during workouts with heavy overhead movements.

Although my WODies have definitely saved my hands at times, I really don't like wearing grips. My hands are very small. Any material that comes between my hands and the bar makes it that much harder for me to hang on. For safety reasons, I would much rather have nothing on my hands at all. If you have this same problem, the next tip should help you out.

#3 Tape your thumbs

This may be common knowledge for some, but I discovered it accidentally. During a WOD in which OLY lifting had been paired with pull-ups, I taped my thumbs like I normally did for the OLY lifts. What I found was that my grip during the pull-ups was improved. I'd never been able to grip the bar that well before. The tape on my thumbs helped me get a more secure grip and eliminated some of the movement in my hands during the kip. Since that workout, I usually only have to use chalk and tape to protect my hands.

Disclaimer: I use a full grip on the bar. If your thumb rests on top with all of your other fingers, this may not work of you. I haven't tried tape with a partial grip because that makes me very uncomfortable. Having a full grip on the bar is safer. Give it a try.

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I've used a few different kinds of tape for this. Generally, whatever I'm using for OLY lifting works well. Right now I'm using Hookgrip from Rocktape. I've also used gauze grip tape that tennis players use to wrap the handles of their rackets. The latter was definitely cheaper but didn't cover my whole thumb. Thus, where the tape ended I did get some blistering. Experiment for yourself and see what works.

 

#4 Basic hand care

Everything you've heard you should be doing but never make the time for: shaving your calluses, using a pumice stone, applying salve, etc. Letting those calluses build up may seem like a badge of honor worth cultivating. However, when you're breezing through those pull-ups and one of those suckers rips, you'll wish you'd taken precautions.

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Get yourself a pumice stone. Sand your calluses on a regular basis. Make your hands tough, but smooth. The rough edges are what catch on the bar and get pulled at. I use this stone whenever the need arises. I also have a product called Rock Rub from Rocktape that I really like. It's a salve, so I usually put it on before I go to bed so I don't have to touch anything. When I wake up in the morning my hands are noticeably softer. I also use it after I've ripped, and it helps heal the wound faster. Apparently, preparation H is also extremely helpful for healing ripped hands. I have never used it myself, but a close friend of mine used to be a gymnast and in that world it is very popular because of how effective it is.

#5 CHALK

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Use all of the chalk! There are so many jokes about how much chalk some cross fitters use. Well, they use it for a reason: it's fuckin awesome! Here in Texas, it's hot. I don't need to say anymore. It's just unbearably hot in the summer. It doesn't matter if you're working out or just standing there, you will sweat. Thus, if you don't use chalk while on the pull-up bar, you will slip off. So dump that bucket of chalk on your hands and get to work!

I hope these tips help you guys. Try them all because something is bound to work. Especially if you are new to crossfit, you should be taking extra care of your hands. Until they toughen up, you'll rip easily. But if you take all of the necessary precautions, you can avoid that. Good luck!