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CrossFit Hand Care


Most (but not all) of us have day jobs or classes which don't involve much hardcore abuse. We use our hands mostly to write or type. Our hands would typically be soft and smooth. The closest we come to developing a callus is from repeatedly hitting the buttons on our keyboard.

But we are CrossFitters and Crossfit has changed our hands. We have hard, sometimes ragged, calloused palms and fingers and we wear them like a badge of honor. Instagram is full of CrossFit diehards proudly displaying their blistered, torn, bloodied badges of honor.

As soon as I fell in love with the feel of a barbell, I developed calluses and tears. I’ve ripped and healed and ripped again. Like every other CrossFitter, I felt pride and awe the first time my hands bled from too many toes-to-bar or pull-ups. But after that I realized the injuries to my hands kept me away from the pull-up bar and made the barbell painful to hold.

Even if you're capable of pushing through the pain of deadlifts or pull-ups with a flesh wound, you could be setting yourself up for nasty infections, deeper tears, and considerable recovery time. Working out with torn hands and open blisters exposes you to bacteria that can slow healing and cause infection. Additionally, the pain associated with these tears causes movement compensations that decrease performance and increase the likelihood of injury.

How do we prevent our callouses from turning on us mid-WOD?

It starts with the grip. Although adjusting your grip on the bar won’t completely prevent callouses, it will reduce them. Try gripping the bar directly in the crease of the hand where the palm meets the base of the fingers and wrap your thumbs around the bar. This neutral grip compresses less skin between the bar and your fingers, better stabilizes the hand's movement, reduces friction and you’re able to move with the bar more easily.

Also, how you work the bar is key. Try re-gripping at the top of a pull-up and avoid having a death grip on the bar.

The best treatment for a rip is to prevent it. I’ve tried gymnastics grips, gloves, athletic tape, Woddies, etc. etc. etc. But nothing felt as good or worked as well as feeling the cool, chalky bar with my bare hands.

Robin Ribeiro, a former gymnast and the owner of RipFix, says the elements of good hand care “is about everyday hand maintenance, and not just the rips.”