Functional fitness takes a serious toll on your hands. Whether you’re doing butterfly chest-to-bar pull-ups, kipping C2B, muscle-ups, Olympic weightlifting barbell work, or even throwing around a dumbbell or kettlebell, your grip is really going to feel the wear and tear. Let’s talk about how to keep those hands fresh and strong, from managing any rips you have now to preventing getting new ones.
Managing a Fresh Rip
These are the four steps to managing a new rip or tear.
Step 1: Stop! Do yourself and your fellow athletes a favor and hit pause. You put yourself and others at risk of infection if you continue to use equipment and possibly spread blood around.
Step 2: The Wash n’ Dry. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap, pat them dry with a paper towel, and survey the damage. Any loose skin flapping around? Get rid of it! Rather than peel it off and risk the good skin, grab a pair of sanitary scissors and ask a friend for help.
Step 3: Keep her clean! Cover your wound for the moment, especially if it’s bleeding or leaking any other fluid. Try keeping the area moist with Polysporin or Neosporin. These are analgesics to help reduce pain and maintain a barrier between your wound and the world. An old gymnastics trick is to tape a used (and cooled) black tea bag directly onto the rip. The tannic acid in the tea is a natural pain reliever and helps with healing.
Step 4: Maintenance and prevention. If you head back to pull-up bar too soon, you run the risk of re-opening the sensitive area. Just like a torn up muscle, your skin needs time to heal.
Maintain your skin by filing or shaving down calluses. You may have heard this over and over, but the truth is that the extra tough thickness of skin that forms on your hands is just going to come off as an even bigger chunk. Protect your skin to prevent tearing with one of the many products out there designed to maintain tough but healthy skin. Callus blades are one excellent option.
Regardless of if it’s a fresh rip or not, keep your hands moisturized with something like CrossFixe. This stuff is a game-changer.
Gear That Prevents Tearing
Instead of managing fresh wounds, let’s avoid them in the first place! The main suggestions out there for preventing tearing are:
- Tiny grip gloves
- Gymnastics grips
Choosing between these is often a matter of individual preference. Products have been fine-tuned, adapted, and reinvented to suit WODs.
While full-coverage gloves are one option, something like the JAW pull-up gloves might be better suited for your workout. They’re a nice compromise between full gloves and grips that cover less surface area.
They never slip off your hands and allow for a more custom fitting.
Try classic high-end athletic tape from a more reputable brand, like TWL finger tape. You can adapt the taping style to your workout, adding layers as needed around your fingers and even palms.
This is the most commonly used grip, usually offering options of two or three fingers, covering the palm and attaching around the wrist with Velcro. These are soft grips (offering added comfort), and they mold to your hand from their first use. They also hold chalk very well and don’t absorb much sweat. This feature helps keep them soft and fresh.
You can find them in various grades and qualities of fabric. They tend not to stick to your skin but also offer enough grip. They’re easy to use and adjustable, and they come in a variety of sizes. They are known to work great all the way from gymnastics movements to barbell work.
TWL 3-Hole Leather Palm Grips
These 2-in-1 leather grips with full palm coverage promise high durability and quality and also support your wrists. Their soft leather makes them comfortable straight from their first use.
Also, they are longer than usual and provide three customizable holes for your fingers, which lowers the risk of tearing any part of your hand. If you are used to ripping your hands on the outside of your palm, these are an excellent option for you.
JAW Pull-Up Grips
Similar to their gloves, JAW grips are made of cloth and designed to withstand friction and sweat during a WOD. These grips are softer and will not harden with sweat. One of the pros is you can throw them in the washing machine and they won’t suffer any damage.
Another benefit is that you measure your fingers and then cut the finger holes, which is more personalized than some other grips. The length comes in three sizes with typical Velcro fastening in the wrist.
The lifespan according to the manufacturer is four to five months if used regularly.
These hypoallergenic grips fight odors as they are 100% washable and reusable. Their material is latex-free woven elastic, and they are slightly padded. The grips use “grip-ridge technology,” which has grooves that hold chalk, so you don’t have to make multiple trips to the chalk bucket.
As they are made from cloth, the thin material won’t get in the way of your grip. These grips provide wrist support, and you can customize their finger holes.
RooGrips are made from quality kangaroo leather — a highly durable material, with a set of special oils, to make them stronger than regular leather. One of the advantages of this material is that it’s thin and will mostly act as a protective layer of skin, providing a safe grip in gymnastics movements and barbell lifts. They will also withstand washing when required.
They have three sizes you can choose from, and two pre-cut finger holes, with a Velcro strap to adjust it to your wrist.
Which method of hand protection is best for you? With so many options to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Keep your hands protected and in one piece as you train — they’re your most valuable tool.