Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Crossfit Girl's Guide to Hand Care

At my gym, we've recently started a pull-up strength segment - so basically every day, we are working pull-ups, negatives and assistance lifts.  The result?  Stronger strict pull-ups, working our way up to strong and healthy kipping pull ups, AND sore hands.  I have strong hands and mine feel totally thrashed. My forearms are killing.  My calluses are feeling extra special.  So... let's take a second to talk hand care shall we?  

Do not roll your eyes.  We watch what we put into our bodies, we spend ridiculous money on shoes and clothes (or maybe that's just me...hmmm), we get up at the crack of dawn to beat ourselves up - but we can't take a few minutes to make sure that we don't look like this? 

This isn't a good look for anyone.  Exactly how much fun do you think this makes doing anything at the gym?  Or for life in general?  Ouch.  No thank you. 
Yeah... that's what I thought.  Read on people.  

There are a ton of great articles and blogs out there that will go into great detail of what you should/shouldn't do to keep your hands in shape.  I've read a bunch of them - some I agree with, some I think are over the top.  Listen... most of us are doing CrossFit recreationally.  It's our fitness regiment - not our life.  We aren't the Rich Fronings and Annie Thorisdottirs of the world.  We come into the gym for an hour or two at a time, get our butts kicked and leave feeling fantastic.  Don't get me wrong - I am in no way trying to diminish what we do - it's freaking awesome! But a lot of the hand care stuff that you read is WAY over the top for the average athlete.  

I do a lot of CrossFit.  I spend a lot of time hanging from the bar just trying to build up my strength.  Every day when I come into the gym - I try to spend a minute or two either hanging, working on my kipping pullups, or just staring at the bar willing it to come down to my level as my arms can't quite pull me up like they are supposed to.  Since I've been doing CrossFit - I've never had a big callus tear.  I may just be lucky, but I like to think that I actually take pretty good care of my hands.  Here's what works for me: 
  1. A pumice stone. Seriously.  Best $1.99 I've ever spent. I keep it in my shower and hit my hands every day.  It takes less than 30 seconds to go over my hands and work down the calluses.  Don't do it too hard - you don't want to take off all your skin (that defeats the purpose). 
  2. Lotion.  Between the chalk and the hand washing to get the chalk off and probably all the sweat - my hands get really dry.  Invest in good lotion.  Like the really rich and intensive moisturizing kind.  I have two different kinds that I use: Vitamin E Lotion and Hemp Hand Protector.  Both are from The Body Shop.  Vitamin E lotion is super light but moisturizing (wow, I sound like a commercial).  The Hemp Hand Protector is more oily - so I usually only use it at night or when I'm going to be sitting for a while.  Good lotion will save your hands.  When your hands are super dry, it's much easier to crack the calluses.  Ouch. 
  3. A reasonable amount of chalk.  If you need chalk, use it.  But there is no reason to have chalk from your wrist to the tips of your fingers.  Rub it in across the parts of your hand that actually grip the bar.  If you use too much chalk, it's possible that your hands will move too much on the bar - therefore causing more friction and therefore more blisters/rips.  Plus, do you really need to be THAT guy who rechalks every set and literally has white hands?  No.  That's excessive.  No one needs that.  Not even Rich Froning.  
    You're welcome. (See... he's totally using an appropriate amount of chalk and he's the fittest man alive. No excuses.)
Before you start investing your money into lifting gloves, Body Glide, and other fancy fixes - give these things a shot.  It could be an easy fix that saves your hands (and your wallet).  By all means, if you are still having problems - there are tons of resources out there for more advanced hand care - and as a coach, I'm always down to help you with whatever you think needs to be taped, chalked, Body Glided, gloved, etc.  

Just make sure you are taking care of yourself.  We need our hands for almost everything - we can't really do anything at the gym if our hands are destroyed.  And on a personal level, who wants to hold hands with someone who has open wounds all over?  No one.  That's who. 

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