Take Care of Your Hands

If you’ve been coming to CPM for long enough now that you’ve ripped your hands doing pullups, toes-to-bar, or barbell work, then you know that it’s not fun.  Not only does that post workout shower hurt (washing your hair with your non-maimed hand only is tough), but those injuries take time to heal.

Here are some strategies you can use to keep your hands in proper working order.

First off, preventative maintenance goes a long ways.

Calluses are going to happen, especially with everyone making friends with the barbell and transitioning from ring rows to pullups.  If we let our calluses build up too much, your hands may tear at the callus during a workout.

Calluses will likely be worst along the base of your fingers, where the finger meets the palm, at the middle, ring, and pinky fingers.  Invest in a pumice stone and/or a callus shaver to keep those calluses manageable.  The best time to work on them is when they have been softened a little, right after a shower.  Use the pumice stone to keep them from building up, and if they get too pronounced take the callus shave to them and trim them down.

Note: Your hands are going to be extra sensitive for a day or two after you shave your calluses.  Plan around workouts accordingly.

Secondly, technique plays a role.

If there’s a hand heavy workout on the board, warmup your hands just like you would the rest of your body.  Shake them out and get them moving as well as stretching out your wrists thoroughly to prepare.

Next, how you hold onto the bar might be what is causing the distress to your mitts.  I prefer to wrap my thumb all the way around the pullup bar, just as I would hold a barbell, and my hand stays stationary while I’m doing pullups.  This keeps my hand from sliding against the bar which creates friction and causes my hands to tear.

I’ve seen other people who effectively use a grip where their thumb isn’t wrapped around the bar.  Their hand swivels and they use a looser grip which works for them.  Try both techniques and see which causes less distress to your hands.  Another strategy is to mix up your grip during pullups, taking a wide grip one set, narrower grip the next and so on.

A word about chalk: more chalk is generally less ideal for the condition of your hands.  Chalk improves friction and dries moisture.  Too much chalk = too much friction = torn hands.  I’m not saying don’t use chalk, I’m just saying find the balance.

Lastly, what to do when a callus does tear.

It will probably happen at some point.  The trick is to treat it effectively so that the wound heals quickly and prevent further injury during healing.

Wash all the chalk/bacteria/sweat off your hands (this is gonna hurt) and apply some ointment to the wound.  The tear will dry out if you don’t keep something on it.  Let it dry out, and it’s going to crack, which really sucks and will make the healing process take longer.  In my experience, a light application of a triple antibiotic ointment twice daily will suffice.

If you come to the gym ready to train on a day that could cause further damage, you’re going to want to tape your hand to protect it.  Now, there’s a good way to tape your hand, and there are other ways.  This article will show you the right way to tape your hands (pics included).  Chris, Annie, or I will gladly help you out if you ask.

Tape em’ up

In summary

  • Get some gear.  A pumice stone and callus shaver are cheap and effective
  • Treat your hands like the rest of your muscles and warm them up well
  • Check your technique, and watch how much “fairy dust” you’re using
  • Take care of that tear if it happens, and get it healed ASAP

The O-Board Says…

A. Partner Work
1 Partner Handstand Hold for 1min (cumulative)
Other Partner Row (only while partner 1 in handstand)
Repeat for 8 minutes (tally total meters rowed)

B. For Time
Run 400m
4 Rounds
40 KB Swings
30 Squats
20 Situps
10 Handstand Pushup
Run 400m

Posted by: Stets