Hand Care - Part 1: Prevention
Hands say a lot about a person. Strong, callused hands are generally regarded as a sign of hard work, so it's almost understandable why, as CrossFitters, some of us are a little proud when our hands get all torn up after a long WOD of pull ups or toes to bar. Here's the deal though: torn hands are not cool (duh), are painful (double duh) and interfere with your future training. If you tear your hands during a WOD, it is likely due to one or more of these causes:
1) You are a new CrossFitter who has not yet built up protective calluses on your hands
2) You are moving around inefficiently on the bar when doing pull ups/C2B/T2B/K2E
3) You aren't giving your hands the love they need
Here are some things that you can do to address each of these issues:
1) You're a new CrossFitter who has not yet built up protective calluses on your hands. Well, there's not too much you can do to change this, but the good news is that you're on your way to getting there! Meanwhile, make sure that you're doing the other things on this list to minimize the number of rips that you get. You should also be scaling your pull ups in such a way that you don't overdo hand-intensive exercise, otherwise you just keep ripping and never get to build up the tough skin.
2) You're moving around inefficiently on the bar when doing pull ups/C2B/T2B/K2E. We've talked about how you should be visiting mobilitywod with Kelly Starrett on the regular, and I have another one to add to your list: www.gymnasticswod.com with Carl Paoli. The guy is a trainer at San Fransisco CrossFit and a former elite gymnast. One of the things he addresses on the site is how to correctly do a kipping pull up. If you watch this video, he's not swinging around all crazy with flailing legs and a gigantic kip. Think about it: all that extra movement in your legs means extra movement for your hands. Your kip should be compact and tight with no wasted energy. When done correctly, it's not only better for your hands, but it's faster and more efficient.
3) You aren't giving your hands the love they need. According to the CrossFit Journal, "your entire palm area should be one thick callus with no bumps or ridges in any one particular area." Even after you build up the calluses on your hands, if you don't keep them smooth, they'll cause tears. After a hot shower so that your hands are nice and supple, use a razor callus remover and shave off the excess dead skin. DON'T SHAVE OFF TO MUCH! You just want to smooth out your hands, not take off the entire callus. You can also use nail clippers to accomplish this, it just takes some practice. You want to shave down the callus a little bit at a time until the skin is even with the rest of your hand.
Keep your hands moistureized. Things like using lots of chalk, frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use really dry out your skin. For the love of everything, do NOT stop washing your hands....but use a moisturizer afterwards. Dry, cracked skin only increases the chances that you will tear.
5 pull ups
5 push ups
5 air squats