So, you ripped your hands? Ouch! This can be a real pain — literally — especially if you’re new to the world of functional fitness and the wear and tear it can cause on your body.
Your grip takes a serious beating. Almost everything you do requires at least some level of grip strength. Over time, this can mean soreness, blood blisters, and full-on tears. These pesky annoyances can get in the way of your gains and even keep you out of the gym while you heal.
So, let’s talk about how you can deal with ripped hands (and how to prevent them in the future).
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Ripped Hands: What to Do Immediately After
First, don’t panic. And yes, it’s normal that it hurts. Some of your skin just detached from your body. Yikes, right? Here’s what to do.
1. Stop What You’re Doing and Don’t Touch Any Equipment
“I CAN FINISH!” you yell as you bleed on the floor and go back to your wall balls.
You’re bleeding. Fluids are leaving your body. The last thing you want to do is touch any equipment. As much as it might stink, hit the pause button on your WOD and make your way to the bathroom.
2. Go Wash Your Hands
Yes, you need to use soap, and yes, it’s going to burn a little — but only temporarily! You have an open wound that you sustained while training in a dirty gym. Cleaning out the bacteria is of utmost importance.
After washing your hands with soap, you can gently pat them dry with a clean paper towel (not a reused towel, which carries more germs) or wait a few moments until they air-dry.
3. Deal With the Loose Skin
Next, we need to deal with that loose flap of skin that’s still hanging off. This is the part that makes most of us cringe.
If the piece of skin that tore off is very thin and barely hanging on, it’s best to remove it. Do not rip it off! Never rip your skin, even when it’s dead. It’s too easy to also rip live skin along with it, which is just going to make matters worse.
Instead, grab cuticle scissors — or nail clippers, in a pinch — and cut that bad boy off. (Side note: It’s always a good idea to carry these around in your gym bag. Be sure to clean them before and after each use.)
If the loose skin is much thicker, cutting it is still likely the best route. Some people will tell you to put that flap of skin back over the open tear to help it heal faster. However, note that this skin is still dead! It will not magically come back to life just because you put it back on the wound. It might “grow” back onto your hand, but it’s still dead skin, and it will just rip again.
That’s why it’s typically best to cut the dead skin off and simply let new skin grow.
4. Apply Antibacterial Ointment
Something like Neosporin will be your best friend. Dab a small amount onto the open wound, and then apply a small bandage over it so that the ointment can work its magic.
Now, this is what you do immediately after sustaining a rip in your hands. How do you care for it over the next couple of days so that you can heal quickly?
How to Care for Ripped Hands Over the Next Few Days
While you will see progress with ripped hands overnight, you’re not going to wake up the very next day and be 100%. Here are some suggestions.
- Give your hands a break for a couple of days: If you get back up on the pull-up bar or pick up the barbell too soon, all you’re going to do is make your rip worse and put yourself in unnecessary pain. If you still want to train, avoid using your hands.
- Continue using the antibacterial ointment: It’s going to help prevent infection and speed up recovery. And remember to additionally keep your hands clean with good ol’ soap and water.
- Let the wound breathe: You don’t want to keep your tear covered 24/7. It’ll keep it too damp. Fresh air is a must and will speed up its healing. You might find it more comfortable to keep it covered when you bathe and sleep, but during the day, let it breathe when possible.
Preventing Ripped Hands in the Future
Rips and tears happen, but there are some things you can do to decrease the likelihood.
You want to build up a little bit of tough skin. This is less likely to tear than baby skin. However, when you build up too much, tears are more likely. Keep them under control by using something like a callus shaver or grindstone.
In addition to keeping that tough skin just thick enough, you also want to keep it smooth. This will make it less likely that bumpy/jagged pieces of skin will catch and tear on the pull-up bar or barbell. Grindstones are especially good for this.
When you’re doing grip-heavy workouts, chalk is always a good idea. You don’t need to use so much that you’re engulfed in a white cloud. If you have a thin layer on your hands, you’re good to go.
Lastly, use grips! Once you’ve built up some of that tougher skin, grips can help you avoid ripped hands. There are all kinds of grips that fit differently and are made from unique materials. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you.
We know how annoying ripped hands can be. With a little TLC, you can take steps to avoid them.
Check out The WOD Life’s full selection of hand grips.