By: Caitlin Pond (CF-L1, Prototype Endurance Coach)
Tips and Tricks for Hand Rips
Hand rips can be the most devastating thing to happen to an athlete mid-WOD. They not only kill your momentum during your workout but can take you out of the your CrossFit fitness gym for days. You never really know how much you use your hand until you can’t. Showering, driving, writing, eating – everything becomes harder with a hand rip! Hopefully, this post helps with prevention, treatment, and survival for all future hand rips. Let’s see what a personal trainer says about them.
- Take care of your hands! Keep your callouses low – shave, trim, bite off – do what you got to do!
- Don’t over do it on the chalk, it won’t prevent rips! It is great for heavy lifting, high-rep kettle bell swings, long farmers carriers, and LIGHT gymnastic movements. Chalk dries out your hands and eats up sweat which means it will allow you to hold on longer without slipping! It doesn’t mean you won’t tear your hands.
- Grips are awesome and help prevent rips. The thicker grips will crush your grip strength and be hard at high volume. Luckily, we have a blog post about grip strength and how to improve it. The tape grips will save your grip but may not be as reliable. Your choice.
- Taped bars: I know they are everyone’s favorite but you got to STOP. It is destroying your hands. I know the grip is nice but all you are doing is creating friction and ripping your skin off. Stop it.
- When performing pull ups (kipping/butterfly), the more rotation your hands have on the pull-up bar, the higher the risk of ripping your hands. Try to keep your hands fixed vs. you hands moving on the bar!
Hand Care If You Rip
It is bound to happen at some point in your CrossFit career no matter how good of shape you are in and no matter how well you take care of your hands. Here is what you need to do if your hands rip:
- If the skin has not fully ripped off – LEAVE IT. Don’t pull it off. You will absolutely pull off more skin making it 10x worse. Leave it if you can. Let it heal and take it off a couple days later. This will greatly benefit you in the long run.
- Blood blister: pop it and drain the blood. DO NOT pull it off! Again, let it heal naturally. As soon as you remove the excess skin you are exposing new skin that can lead to cracking and longer recovery. The same goes for a regular blister – let it heal naturally.
- If some of the skin is hanging off, you have to cut it off. Be careful! Use scissors and only cut off the parts that need cutting. Sterilize (alcohol pads, etc.) the scissors before and after use #science.
- Go to the sink, turn on the hot water, and let it run. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, keep breathing and hold your hand under the water. There will be profanities, and it won’t be pretty, but your hand will be clean.
- Once you recover, take a breath and now add soap. There will be more profanities, and possibly tears, but no bacteria.
- If there was blood, wipe down all the equipment you were using, including the pull up bar. Safety for everyone!
You just have to do it. If you ripped your hand it means it was a killer WOD. I do not care if you sweat flowers, you need to shower. Here is my advice on showering with ripped hands:
- Get latex gloves and rubber bands. Put on the gloves and wrap the rubber band around your wrist. This will prevent water from getting in and causing you more pain. This won’t take all the pain away but it will allow you to shower and clean up. Your family will appreciate it.
Finally, time for some shut eye! The best practice for a ripped hand is sleeping.
- Use Neosporin or an antibiotic cream and load it up. Then take a glove or bandage and wrap your hand up. This will keep the antibiotic on the rip and allow for it to heal. It will also prevent it from getting all over your nice sheets! Keeping the rip covered in antibiotic will prevent it from drying out but also protect you! The real pain of a hand rip comes a few days later when it starts cracking.
Days After a Rip and the Road to Recovery
- For the first 48 hours, continually add the antibiotic to keep the hand clean and prevent the blister from drying out.
- Get some vitamin E hand cream and start applying multiple times a day. This will help with healing and also, once again, prevent dry out. Skin will start regenerating rapidly so the longer you can prevent dry out the sooner you will heal. You could even prevent the painful cracks that occur.
- When you do go back to the box, wrap your hand up. This will keep you safe from germs at the box but also keep your friends safe. Ain’t nobody got time for MRSA! Remember, if you start bleeding please wipe down your bar!
That’s it. Remember, the first 48 hours are most crucial for hand rips. If you want to get back to killing it at the box, you got to take care of yourself. Simple hand maintenance will prevent the frequent recurrence of rips.
Hopefully these tips and tricks from a physical trainer who’s been through it before will help for a speedy recovery and prevention of all future hand rips!