How to Prevent Your Hands From Ripping

Hand rips: Everyone gets them. Nobody likes them.

So how can I prevent it from happening again?

Prevention has two steps: Shaping and Smoothing of the Calluses + Moisturizing. But before getting into prevention, you must first understand why hand tears happen in the first place.

Friction

Friction between your hand and the bar, or your hand and a loose gymnastics grip, will cause the hand to tear. Gymnastics Coach Phil Savage expounded on this by saying:

Your chances increase a lot if you’ve got either a) soft hands with little or no callus build-up or b) too much callus buildup that makes bumps or ridges on the surface of your hands. You need the happy medium—deep but smooth and supple calluses that protect the hands but remain intact when working.

Hand Rips: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Dry Skin

Dry hands will crack and rip more often. For this reason alone, regularly apply lotion or another hand moisturizer during the colder months.

However, the most common reason for dry skin in our gyms is chalk. While chalk will certainly help you stay on the bar (and prevent some of the friction between your hand and the bar), it dries out the skin on your hands.

Strive to get in the habit of washing your hands and then applying lotion right after every workout. This is precisely the reason why we have lotion next to the soap in our bathrooms at RxFIT.

Prevention #1: Shaping and Smoothing of the Calluses

Not all calluses are created equal, meaning that they will develop different levels of thickness in different parts of your hand. This is a recipe for hand tears as the varying levels of thickness will rub against each other up on the bar or rings.

I’ve recently learned that using a grindstone is more effective than a razor as you’re able shape and evenly smooth the callus.

Grindstones allow for consistent smoothing and shaping of the calluses.

In order to create a daily habit of this, I’d recommend keeping a grindstone in the shower. Your hands will also be softer and easier to grind in the hot water. Just remember that the ideal goal would be to maintain one level callus across the entire hand with no bumps or ridges.

Prevention #2: Moisturizing

If you’re using chalk at the gym, you should be using lotion at home. Use it (lotion) or lose it (your skin)!

USA Gymnastics recommends Eucerine and Cetaphil (you should be able to find these at any grocery store) and Bag balm (check Amazon).

Conclusion

Friction and dry skin cause hand tears. While there is no way to totally prevent either of these things from happening (you’re not going to stop doing pull-ups or using chalk), you can do two things to avoid the painful hand rip.

First, prevent uneven calluses by using a grindstone (or pumice stone) in the shower. In general, you shouldn’t be able to pinch your calluses and make a shelf out of them. A little bit every day will do the trick.

Then, apply lotion after washing your hands with soap and water at the end of every workout. You need to use it if you don’t want to lose it.

I hope this helps.

Tyler

For another good reference: Get a Grip On Your Rip

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