I’ve Got To Hand It To You (Part 2)

By September 2, 2008 22 Comments

Escher Hands

This is Part Two of my four-part article on handcare. Part One dealt with basic maintenance. Since posting Part One, I have received some great recommendations for callus maintenance tools. The first is the Ped Egg and the second is the Dremel Multipro. Obviously the Ped Egg is a good choice if you don’t care what people think of you when they see a pink egg in your gym bag. The Dremel is awesome if you have money to burn or are a hobbyist of sorts and already need one for fine detail work.

This article examines first aid and care for ripped hands and torn calluses. If you train hard doing pullups, deadlifts, cleans and snatches, you will eventually tear open the calluses on your palm. These tips also can be used if you get tears from muscle ups on your wrists or if you open blisters on your feet from running or dancing. The trick is to know how to care for the rips before they put you out of commission so you can get back to training hard as soon as possible.

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.

— Leonardo da Vinci

The best defense is a good offense. Wearing gloves is not the answer: learning how to hold a bar is. People tend to overgrip the bar: gripping so that the bar is firmly in the palm. However once there is weight on the bar, the bar will move more into the fingers. If you are holding tightly the bar will move and take the skin with it. Your best bet is to put the bar where it is going to go not where you think it should be.

When lifting or doing pullups, you are going to want to chalk up. Chalk is essential to training. Chalk improves your grip on the bar. Gyms that do not let you use chalk are not places you want to frequent. However, if you are tied into your contract at your globo gym, then I highly recommend buying liquid chalk because it does not leave a dust trail. It goes on wet and dries in 30 seconds and keeps your hands dry for a long time. Also worth trying are products like Tite-Grip. It is more tacky than chalk and if you like that feel then it is a great investment.

Your treatment has several phases. Phase 1 is when you immediately rip your callus. Some people will be able to finish their workout with ripped hands and some will need to stop and address the problem immediately. That depends on what workout you are doing, the severity of the injury and your level of pain-tolerance. Let’s say you’ve stopped temporarily to address the injury. Immediately pack the wound with chalk to stop the bleeding and prevent dirt from getting into the wound. You may want to quickly wrap your hand with tape to keep the tear from opening further.
Bloody Bar
Once the training is over, please clean off your equipment with some bleech. Most Crossfitters are not squeemish but nobody wants to use bloody equipment. Be considerate. If you are a coach, then you should be following up and cleaning off the equipment again after the athlete takes a first pass. Running a gym requires that you maintain and clean the equipment and wiping off blood and other bodily fluids is a first priority.

Back to the problem at hand (pun intended), Phase 2, cut off the flap of skin with a sterile blade or nail clippers. Clean the wound with soap and water. Now is when you want to get all of that chalk and dirt out. It will sting; close the door so nobody sees you crying.
Torn Hands
If you are at your gym, see what is in the first aid kit. You will want to put some disinfectant on the wound. Apply some liquid bandage to the wound to keep it covered on the way home. Holding on to a cold can of beer will help numb the pain.

Phase 3, once you are home you can remove the liquid bandage by applying a fresh coat and quickly wiping it off while it is still wet. Soak your hand in warm water saturated with salt for about 15 minutes. This is extremely painful but great for healing the wound. If you are really hardcore then just pour a fistful of salt into your hand and hold it for a while. Let the wound air dry for a couple of hours until it stops oozing and seeping.
Torn Palm
Another great tip I received from my friend Marieka J. is to make a slurry out of ibuprofen and water. “Take Advil tablets and crush them into a powder. Use a drop or two of water and mix in some of the powder to form a paste. Apply to open wound. It’s a cheap, but highly effective topical anesthetic. The powder can be kept in a small vial, so you always have it prepared and in your bag.”

The Final Phase is the healing phase. When your wound is dry you might consider putting some more liquid bandage on it especially if you are going to use the hand for anything or you can also apply a light guaze wrap. In the evening, put some antibiotic ointment on the wound and cover your hand with a glove or a sock to keep the ointment from getting everywhere. Apply lotion, vaseline, chapstick or antibiotic ointment a couple of times a day to keep the area from drying out and cracking. You should be back to normal in about a week.

In Part Three I will give you some tips on training with an injured paw.

Was this article helpful? Do you have any other handy first aid tips for torn calluses? Please share your thoughts in the comments?


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