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Preventing/Healing Hand Tears

With the recent influx of new members, we have more people tearing their hands for the first time.  As such, we are getting a lot of questions regarding how to avoid hand tear, and what to do if a hand tear does happen.

Hand tears or hand rips are a common occurrence in both CrossFit and gymnastics. Many CrossFit athletes look at hand tears as a rite of passage, “I’m now officially an athlete.”  However, these tears can lead to days or weeks of not coming to box or not being able to do certain movements.  Hand tears happen because friction between the bars and your hands produces a build-up of skin (calluses).  Eventually, this buildup will “rip” off leaving a painful exposed layer of fresh skin.

HOW TO PREVENT HAND TEARS

The best way to protect the hands starts before walking into the gym. Hands should be kept well moisturized with either a thick moisturizer or Vaseline to keep them soft. Calluses should be filed down, but it is important to not over do it.  You want to leave some tough skin and filing too far down can also expose that raw fresh skin.

While at the gym, athletes should remember that using too much chalk can cause an athlete to grip too firmly leading to tears.  A little chalk can go a long way.  Athletes should pay attention, and if a tear is suspected, efforts should be made to modify or stop the workout. After workouts, athletes should wash their hand to remove all chalk which dries out hands and a good moisturizer should be used.

WHAT IF YOU STILL TEAR YOUR HANDS

If a tear does happen it is important to take off the skin to prevent further tearing and clean the area thoroughly. Once clean and dry, use an antibiotic ointment and keep the wound covered to help the healing process. The new skin underneath should be kept well moisturized to prevent it from cracking as it heals. While it is good practice to wipe down all equipment after use, athletes who tear their hands should make sure equipment is cleaned off before leaving the box. Hands should be rested to allow healing or, if not possible, tape grips (like those in the video below) may be used.

Athletes prone to hand tears should look into using grips or gloves. There are many options available and what is best is personal preference.  Remember, although most of us want that initial tear and feeling of being a true CrossFitter, these minor injuries can sideline an athlete. Proper hand care should be a priority so that you can keep working out and reaching your goals.