Ripped hands crossfit
Source: The Progrm

6 Tips to Help Crossfitters Avoid Ripped Hands

Ripped hands: Fearlessness or carelessness? Use these tips to stop your hands from ripping and holding back your progress.

Back in the day ripping your hands was like earning your stripes, it was a sign you had pushed so hard with such disregard for your own health that you ripped, then you probably carried on the workout, because it was what you did back then.

But like everything, times have changed and we have evolved. Ripping your hands now is no longer a sign of fearlessness more a sign of carelessness and we are here to help you make better choices!

Crossfit hands

Don’t ruin your progress!

© RX'd Photography

Hands shouldn’t rip. It is that simple. It is an annoying and unnecessary injury that hinders training in the upcoming days, it hurts and it is an injury that could and should easily be avoided.

Below our are steps for taking care of your hands and preventing them from ripping: 

1. Use a hand shaver – keep them smooth

When calluses build up, the chance of ripping becomes higher. The dead skin of the callus acts likes a lever and can actually make the rip worse. Typically if an athlete rips with smooth hands the damage is a lot less than when a big callus rips off.

We recommend our athletes to use a pumice stone or even a shaver in the shower (The hot water softens the callus making it easier to remove). Use it often. The smoother your skin the better. You will get to know your own body and how much to file the callus, as a general rule the callus is deadskin therefore doesnt hurt when you remove it, however once you reach the living skin it is innovated and therefore hurts – this is a good place to stop…

2. Get some good hand wax

There are lots brands either from Climbing or CrossFit. Our favourite brand is called Burts Bees, it is natural and works well.  The ideal time to use the wax is after the shower so the hands don´t dry out and stay them moist, obviously before bed is also a great time.

3. Use grips

A lot of athletes find grips annoying to start with, as in the beginning gripping the bar can be harder. However the earlier you get used to them the better. In CrossFit we generate so much friction on the bar with our hands due to the nature of the movements we do (Kipping pull-ups/Bar muscle-ups etc). 90% of athletes need an extra layer of protection.

There are lots of different models on the market – fabric/leather/2 finger holes/3 finger holes.

You will have to test some out to find your best fit, it is important to note the leather grips get much better once they are worn in.

5. Stop before you rip

This can be hard in a CrossFit workout, however it is just better to stop in training, scale the movement and look after the hands so they are ready for your next few days of training.

6. Don´t forget your thumbs

Although often less severe however equally annoying and inhibiting, is ripping your thumbs. Did you ever wonder why Olympic lifters tape their thumbs so much, this is the reason. So dont let your thumbs feel left out and make sure they are protected too!

One more thing to bear in mind: It does take time for the skin to build up and to get used to the stress of hanging, moving on bars or rings and this is one of the reasons in The Progrm Foundation we progressively build up the capacity of the gymnastic work so the hands can get accustomed.

So if you’re putting an unrealistic load on your hands (say in your first weeks of Crossfit) all hand care might not prevent your skin from ripping. However, this counts for any part of your body – if the demand is to high for the capability given, damage will likely occur.

Stay safe and protect those hands!

Author: Gwen Sona, Progrm Coach and 5 time Regional athlete.