To achieve great levels of fitness, one must push the body to its limits. In doing so, we break our body down. This is good! Essential even for us to get stronger than ever! However, pushing our body to the point of injury is never the goal. This is where tearing our hands come in, its an injury and never the goal! Sometimes athletes have come up to me, proud of their new badassness that is a big ole chunk of skin missing…
Here’s the thing, we can’t train as hard with our hands injured. We also put ourselves at the risk of infection and must take action to prevent that as soon as possible. We do an awful lot with our hands, and if we tear every time we have chest to bar pull ups programmed, we have an issue that needs to be addressed.
Our hands tear due to a lack of, or a build up of callus. Calluses are a buildup of dead skin formed over a layer of vulnerable tissue to protect against friction or pressure. Calluses are good! They toughen up your hands and allow you to do more without extra protection. When we have too little callus, our skin tears because it is too weak to withstand the friction or pressure of what it is we are doing. However, when we have too much callus, our skin tears because it begins to bunch up and gives when too much pressure is applied. We want that happy medium of smooth tough skin.
The best way to prevent tearing is to determine which category you fall in. Once you’ve decided that let’s take action!
If you have too little callus the best way to protect your hands from tearing is to wear hand protection. Our go to at CrossFit St. Charles is The Natural Grip. We sell them at our pro shop.
There are a lot of options out there, but these give you the best feedback on pull up bars in our experience. If you take care of them they should last for many workouts! Remember not to wear them every time you grab a pullup bar though, only when you’re at risk of tearing. It takes time and consistency to develop callueses! We want to be smart and not tear at all so our hands get as tough as possible.
If you have too much of callus formed, the best way to protect your hands is preventive care and hand protection. The following is my suggested form of preventive hand care and what I find to work the best.
The tools you need are:
Single Blade Disposable Razor
Step 1: Spend 10-15 minutes in a shower or bath. At least enough time to get your hands soft and pruny.
Step 2: Take the razor blade to your hand. Be gentle, we don’t want to remove too much of the callus. If we go too deep, you will wish you would have just torn your hands…There should be a deep thick layer of skin left for you to complete a workout the following day.
Step 3: Take the pumice stone to your hand. This will help smooth out and rough edges.
Step 4: Apply lotion if desired.
I feel it is best to take care of your hands once a week, or at least once every 2 weeks.