Until CrossFit came along, callused hands never seemed so sexy. It’s a badge of honor. You’re not just hitting up an elliptical machine for 30 minutes a few times a week. No. You are perfecting your power clean, working on those kipping pull-ups and pushing through the shoulder press. A reminder of your pursuits? Hands that might have seen better days.
There is a big difference between wearing this badge of honor with pride or suffering through its potential pain, though.Taking care of your hands is extremely important for CrossFitters. This starts with an ounce of prevention and a little bit of maintenance. Both can be the difference between painfully ripped calluses and the rugged mitts of a seasoned CrossFitter.
Remember that the more you do grip intensive activities, the more your hands will adapt to the abuse. But not if you don’t keep up with your hands. Even the most veteran of crossfiters will occasionally suffer from the rip.
1. Recognize when you rip. Everyone pretty much knows when they are about to rip. Prevention is the best maintenance! Let go of the bar early instead of holding out and getting a couple more reps. Unless you’re in a do or die situation, just let go. See number 5 for keeping your calluses to a minimum.
2. Don’t wear gloves. I know this will be questioned by many of you, but I can assure you it actually makes things worse. Gloves provide an extra layer of friction for your skin to move against. As your hands get sweaty, they glide against the inside surface of the gloves. As the gloves are achieving grip on the bar, your hands are freely moving against the inside surface, causing blistering of the skin and ultimately, ripping the skin.
3. Use the appropriate amount of chalk. Once you powder up, dust off your hands into the bucket. Caking chalk on will create a thick layer of friction. The right amount of chalk does two things: provide just enough tack to grip onto the bar, and almost more importantly, keeps your hands dry. Just like the reason gloves are not advantageous, the lack of chalk will make your hands wet from sweat, and causing blistering of the skin and ultimately, ripping the skin.
4. Better grip position. Grip more on your palm than on your finger tips. Most importantly, a palm grip activates the flexor muscles in your forearms to aid in grip strength. when you grip low on your finger tips, not only is the skin there more delicate, but there’s weak muscles that cannot support the amount of force generated by both your body weight and the swinging motion of a pull-up. Also, as you “float” from your kip, a slight readjust of the grip substantially helps prevent ripping the skin. It’s the firm death grip of the bar that causes skin to be blistered and torn.
5. Maintain those hands. Use a callus shaver or pumis stone and keep the callus formation down. A disposable razor works just fine. Do it in the shower or while your hands are moist; this makes it much easier for the skin to come off. I promise this does not hurt and is the easiest way to “shave them down.”
In conclusion – use just enough chalk, not a mound of it. Grip higher to activate more muscles to aid in pulling. Leave the gloves at home. Stay mobile in the grip when you are kipping. Get off the bar when you feel your skin pulling.
(CF Dallas Central)