I have a question for y’all: How or WHY did ripping become “cool” in CrossFit? Why is it that we see athletes jump off the bar after the last set of pull ups and proudly display battered and bloody hands like a badge of honor? I have news for you: not only is it not cool, but it’s counter-productive to your training (not to mention unsanitary).
You are only as strong as your weakest link. Ripped hands are your weak link. They suck. They hurt. And they should be proactively avoided.
There is SO MUCH you can do to minimize your risk of tearing. Hand care should be a regular part of everyone’s routine, just like mobility.
The first thing to look at is maintenance. Over time as you’ve been doing CrossFit, you’ll notice that the skin on your hands has gotten thicker and you’ve most likely developed some callouses. Callouses are not inherently bad on their own, but if they become too thick, bumps or ridges form which can catch on the bar as you are working out and cause tearing.
There are a variety of tools that can be used to maintain your callouses including pumice stones, callous shavers/trimmers, as well as lotions and moisturizers to prevent your callouses from drying out and cracking.
If managing callouses doesn’t sound like something that you would do on a regular basis, then you might want to look into investing in a pair of grips. Grips are usually leather strips that fit around two of your fingers and then fasten around your wrist to keep them in place. The leather strip takes on the friction being created which keeps your hands rip free. Like anything else new, it will take some time to become proficient with them.
Another method in reducing tears, is how we are gripping the bar. Many of us lack the proper strength or technique to grip the bar properly and end up generating more friction than necessary which causes the tear. CrossFit Jaakarhu released this short 3 minute video which nicely sums up how to properly hold the bar, and even speaks to modifications on how to build up strength so that you can improve your grip.
The CrossFit Journal released an article on Hand Rips in April 2008 if you are interested in reading further about causes, prevention, and care.
I urge everyone to take this seriously and think about what steps they need to take in order to keep their hands healthy!