Ultimate Guide to CrossFit Handcare and Protection
updated January 1, 2019
As a Crossfitter, your hands take a beating. Calluses, ripped skin, abrasions and torn nails are the painful price that many pay for their iron obsession. For some, it’s seen as a badge of honor, the blood streaming down their wrists proof of their ‘badd-ass’ training style. Yet, that type of stone-age thinking doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t be a hardcore CrossFitter without decimating your palms on every WOD.
In this article, we discover 5 common sense Crossfit hand care steps you can take to protect your palms and fingers from the ravages of the weight room.
Your basic Crossfit hand protection while working out starts with buying a solid pair of workout gloves. Not only will gloves, provide the padding to prevent calluses and rips, they will also enhance your grip, support the wrists and help prevent sweat slippage. Here are 5 key considerations when choosing your Crossfit gloves in order to prevent Crossfit hand rips starts:
- Grip - Crossfit workouts are versatile and that means that your gloves need to follow suit. Your gloves need to feel comfortable and sure when you’re pushing weights as well when you’re grabbing a skip rope or pulling the handle of a rowing machine.
- Padding - you want a pair of gloves that has just the right balance between callus reducing palm padding and functionality. Too much padding and you won’t be able to grip properly. Too little, and you won’t get the protection you need. Besides, if the material is too thin, your hands will slip around, which can actually cause calluses to form.
- Breathability - If your hands are overheated and covered in sweat, your grip will be compromised and abrasions more likely to develop. In addition, you won’t be able to maintain a secure grip, which could be dangerous when you are lifting heavy. That’s why you need a glove that is made from a breathable material.
- Fingers - while most gloves feature half fingers, some do offer full fingers to give total digital protection. Many people prefer to have the top joint free for a more natural feel on the bar, but if you are prone to finger tip abrasions, you may be better of with a full gove.
- Durability - Gloves can be made from any manner of material. However, the longest lasting tend be constructed of either leather or neoprene. Of the two, neoprene is the most breathable. Regardless of the material you select, the glove should feature double stitching for enhanced durability.
The best workout gloves for Crossfitters that we have come across are the Emerge half finger gloves, which tick off all of our purchasing criteria and then some. They feature a padded leather and silicone material to provide the ultimate in protection from calluses and skin rips. They are amazingly comfortable, functional and durable - and, unlike may competitors, don’t require any break-in period.
Invest in Hand Grips
Hand grips are a pared down version of gloves. Many Crossfitters prefer them over gloves because they provide a more natural feel, allowing them to maintain a greater mind-muscle connection. They are also more breathable, keeping your hands from over heating and preventing sweat slippage. The truth is that it shouldn’t be a matter of either or when it comes to grips and gloves. They are both important hand care Crossfit protection tools that you should have in your gym bag.
When it comes to pull up hand protection, grips seem to be the better option. For most bar work, the gloves seem to do the superior job.
Be sure to choose grips that are reusable (some aren’t), that are machine washable and that are easy to slip on and off. You want as wide a grip protection as possible and a secure locking system to ensure that they won’t slip while you’re working out.
When it comes to the best Crossfit grips on the market, Rage Fitness are standouts. They are made from top quality tanned leather to provide a superior level of grip and hand protection.
The Rage Crossfit Grip features a solid wrist support to back up the generous amount of palm padding, all while keeping your fingers free to perform.
Emerge Gymnastic Hand Grips are the grip of choice for all of your exercises on gymnastic rings or other non bar apparatus. This amazingly comfortable textured leather grip will not pinch, blister or restrict movement, while providing the ultimate in durability.
Emerge Pull Up Fitness Grips are the go to grip for everything you do in the gym that revolves around the pull up bar. These grips are light and breathable while providing total coverage when your grip the bar. Your fingers are completely free for a natural hold and this grip features very robust wrist padding
All Emerge products come with training manuals, and a 100% money back guarantee.
Kayana Pull Up Fitness Grips are the go to grip for everything you do in the gym that revolves around the pull up bar. These grips are light and breathable while providing total coverage when your grip the bar. Your fingers are completely free for a natural hold and this grip features very robust wrist padding.
Wash off Chalk
A lot of CrossFitters like to use chalk in order to improve their grip and reduce sweat slippage and increase dryness. However, the more that dryness stays on your hands, the more likely your hands will be to crack and peel. When you’re WOD is over, it is important for the health of your hands to thoroughly wash that chalk off.
Use a good moisturizing soap, such as Dove. Don’t use a deodorant soap because it can increase the dryness of the hands. Make sure the water is hot and that you get in between the fingers and remove all the chalk residue from the lines on your palm.
Use a Moisturizer
Yes, real men do use moisturizer - especially Crossfitters who want to avoid ripping up their fingers every time they enter the box. Don’t go for the white creamy daily moisturizer that you see in department stores. Instead, you want one that has a yellowish, waxy hard consistency. You can pick up a good moisturizer for about ten dollars - and it will last you for about a year, making it a great investment in your hand health.
Dab a little moisturizer on a finger tip and rub it into the areas at the base of your fingers where calluses are most likely to develop. Then spread it out to cover your palms and the areas between your fingers. If you train in colder climates, your fingers are more likely to chaff, so you should apply moisturizer every day. Everyone else should use it 3-4 times per week.
No matter how much love you give your hands, you will at some stage have to deal with calluses. To help you take them down and smooth your hands out, there are two things you can do. The first is use a pumice stone. You can pick one up cheaply at any drug store or order one online. After training, simply rub the stone over your calluses for about 30 seconds.
A second tool you can use is called a callus remover. One one side it has cheese grater finish, while the other is an emery board. Use it the same way you would a pumice stone to rub your calluses out with the cheese board side. Then flip it over and smooth it out with the emery board.
Do not use razor blades on your calluses. You don’t want to stab into your palm or cut your finger.
As mentioned, you can’t really avoid ending up with a callus or two at some point. Inevitably, it will be at the joint of the finger next to your pinkie. When this happens you can use callus tape to alleviate the pain. But you’ve got to make sure that you wrap it properly. Rather than just wrapping it around and around the palm at the finger base, cut a strip of take which is about 18 inches long. Now, find the middle and bite a little hole into it. Now pull the hole apart to make an opening which is about an inch long.
Slip the finger which has the callus at its base through the hole and drape across and down over the callus. Then smooth the tape out and press it in place so that it runs down your palms and the back of your wrist. Double up with two layers of tape. Finally wrap a couple of layers of tape around the wrist to hold it all in place.
Tape the Thumb
When you grab a bar with a hook grip, it’s easy for the thumb to cut into your skin. That’s why it’s a good idea to tape the thumb when you know that your WOD will feature hook grip exercises. Simply wraps a single layer of tape around the base of the thumb.
Ripped skin is no badge of honor when it comes to Crossfitting. Not only will it make your workouts (and the rest of your life) painful, it will impair your training performance. Investing in both gloves and grips, along with the hand care products we’ve recommended will keep you free of injury so that you can perform at your best without the pain. Make the handcare maintenance practices outlined above a habitual part of your routine and you will be a better, safer and happier Crossfitter for life.