My palms resent kipping pullups
July 24, 2012 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Crossfitters: I'm pretty new to the world of Crossfit, and I've ripped the calluses on my palms. What sorts of treatments and supplies can I use to keep working out despite my tender mitts?

No one told me I should be tending to my calluses, but I've learned my lesson. I now have big, tender scars under each of my ring fingers. Any way I can bandage these up to leave me in good shape for tomorrow's workout?
posted by grrarrgh00 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if you could get these by tomorrow, but what you need are some grips. A la gymnastic grips.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:21 PM on July 24, 2012

Place a few layers of 3M/generic brand paper tape over your tender exposed skin. You can purchase this from any pharmacy for a few dollars.
posted by axismundi at 3:22 PM on July 24, 2012

You can probably get some tape for these at a pharmacist. Calluses are pretty standard fare for rock climbing, so you might search some climbing sites for a good recommendation.

I read a review of a bunch of hand crème's, and O'Keefe's Working Hands came out on top. I've been using it to tend to my calluses, and it's done a good job so far. I picked it up at Home Depot in Canada, so check your local hardware store, or use the site's store locator (top right).
posted by backwards guitar at 3:22 PM on July 24, 2012

Here is a review of some of the best tape for climbing. Apparently "Athletic tape" is a little less sticky than climbing tape, so that might be all you need.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:25 PM on July 24, 2012

I used to rip my hands up on barbells all the time. I began using chalk and paying attention to my grip and don't have any problems. Hope that helps you in the future.
posted by munchingzombie at 4:25 PM on July 24, 2012

Also, once you fully redevelop your calluses, trim them and keep them clean, but do NOT get rid of them. Otherwise you will continually rip your hands open and that's a health issue in addition to being a comfort one.

But, yes. Athletic tape. Rolls of it.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 5:47 PM on July 24, 2012

This would happen to me when I first did Crossfit after any pull-up session or huge deadlift sessions. But this would always happen to me on Swing-a-ring sets. The main problem is having some sort of callus there in the first place which can catch and start to rip off. So, the first thing is to definitely start doing some preventive work in the future. Keeping calluses smoothed down (filing, etc) and always using plenty of chalk! And don't be afraid to just not do a workout if you know something bad is going to happen.

For now, make sure you thoroughly clean that thing. HOLY F does it hurt when you first take a shower, but after that, it is pretty minimal. Put some bacitracin on the red spot, and then put some band-aids over the spot. Then, if you are going to work out, tape your hands in the way that gymnasts do it. You are basically making a ring of tape over the finger with the tear, that covers the rip, and then is held in place lower on the hand or by the wrist. Bring extra tape because it will probably come off. Still use chalk, but I found that wearing sweat bands on my wrist would also help keep the sweat out that would drip down my arms and loosen the tape.

Also, really think through how you are gripping the bar before deadlifts. As you get tired the grip usually fails first and the bar starts sliding down the palm toward your fingers. Be aware of when this is happening. There is so much emphasis on time in Crossfit, that people tend to do dumb things. Try not to do dumb things.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 5:48 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and this is what I meant by "swing-a-ring" sets. It isn't really a crossfit thing per se, but a lot of them do it.

If you are under, say, 14, you will be amazing at this and can do it all day. If you are over about 25, you will nearly dislocate your shoulder, make it about 2 rings before hanging there creaking back and forth like a side of beef, and then slowly tear all the skin from your palm as you slide down and off like a box full of butter tubs to the sand below.

And that is why they have a dedicated page for "Hand Health".
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 5:54 PM on July 24, 2012

The crossfit bloody palms stigmata is either an overuse injury or bad grip form. Pay attention to what you are doing when doing pull ups (or reduce the volume of Kipping pull ups which are hard on your shoulders anyway) and use an appropriate (should not look like clown makeup) amount of chalk.
posted by rr at 6:03 PM on July 24, 2012

Pour salt on the open wounds. Yes, this will hurt. No, it will not be unbearable. What you will be left with is a desiccated, leathery wound. It may be a bit tender still but you should be able to grip on things again. I used to do this before proper callous care and it worked like a charm.

Also, pouring salt on open wounds convinces you to grip the bar correctly and take care of your callouses very quickly.
posted by Loto at 6:28 PM on July 24, 2012

Sometimes, ripped callouses are a sign that you need to take a day off from workouts that will rip your hands to shreds. The WOD schedules are not made for new exercisers, which tends to make them stupid about things like injuries to your flesh (ignoring injuries to harder-to-heal things like joints and muscles).
When I was doing a more xfit-focused routine, I built up my skin by taking days off from serious callous-ripping workouts. There are a million WODs that don't affect the hands. If your box won't give you one of those, I would wonder how smart they really are about scheduling. Tell them your hands are ripped up and you need a day off. If they won't give you one, question what they will do when your knees ache, your shoulders are off, or worse.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:52 PM on July 24, 2012

Learn to do this before any grip-heavy WOD. It will save you.
posted by gone2croatan at 8:49 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

i've found that gymnastic grips (without dowel) don't work for me. i like to FEEL the bar.
therefore, i tear.

daily maintenance on non torn hands - pumice stone in the shower. EVERY DAY. sometimes a ped-egg if my calluses are unruly.

if i tear:
wash with anti-bac soap. clean blood off of bar and equipment. cut any hanging skin off. make sure to wash again when i get home. THEN - preparation H directly on the open rip. slap a band-aid on it overnight (or a hydrocolloid band-aid which will stay for a day or two). if it's a regular band-aid, more prep-h in the morning and leave open. once the hydrocolloid falls off, pep-h at night, open during the day. once it's not pink and hurty (2-3 days) i use chapstick (technically badger balm plain flavor) on the rip to keep it moist during the day. at night it gets vit-e oil.
posted by thatgirld at 2:11 PM on July 25, 2012

also note, you shouldn't be doing high-rep pull ups on consecutive days. if you tear, take a day off the bar.
posted by thatgirld at 2:12 PM on July 25, 2012

Here are links to a comprehensive discussion of how to care for your hands. Part 3 specifically covers "how to return to training when you have torn calluses."

I’ve Got To Hand It To You (Part 1)

I’ve Got To Hand It To You (Part 2)

I’ve Got To Hand It To You (Part 3)

I’ve Got To Hand It To You (Part 4)

In a nutshell, part 3 says, "make and use tape grips", as suggested upthread by gone2croatan. Here is a one page diagram of how to make a tape grip that I've found to be very useful. A couple of people mentioned leather gymnastic grips. I think many people in CrossFit go through the phase of trying these; my observation is that everyone goes back to athletic tape (or better hand maintenance) after a couple of tries with them. That was my experience as well. Now I carry a couple of rolls of tape and some pre-made tape grips that permanently live in my gym bag.

Tape grips will get you through the next couple of workouts. In the long term, you've got to keep your calluses sanded/shaved down, which is what parts 1 and 2 of the above links deal with. Kipping pull-ups require some amount of hand rotation on the bar, so if you've got calluses built up, they are going to catch (unless the bar is mirror smooth), and eventually rip off. Same thing for movements like chest-to-bar pullups, toes-to-bar, knees-to-elbows, and bar muscleups. Also: if the rips occurred on the palms, that may be an indication that you are overgripping the bar. You may find it a little easier to hold the bar more in your fingers than wrapping your entire hand around it. It is a pretty subtle difference, like the contact point for the bar moves up a fraction of an inch, but it made all the difference in the world for me.
posted by kovacs at 7:36 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older The ultimate first-world problem   |   Am I too much for a counselor to handle? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.