Cross Training Hand Care by Maijaliisa
Cross Training Hand Care by Guest Contributor Maijaliisa Burkert
As a collegiate rower, I was no stranger to having callused, blistered and torn hands. I thought nothing of walking around with open wounds on my palms for days at time. I have more tubes of Neosporin stuffed in random places all over my house because I have, for so many years, needed it on hand to help heal my constantly ripped hands.
Ripping my hands at cross training therefore didn’t seem like something that was a big deal. I was used to dealing with this kind of thing. However, I came to quickly realize that some people did not rip their hands with the frequency I did, or hardly at all!
How could this be?
It’s simple. Preventative upkeep can minimize your likelihood to tear at cross training. And when you DO tear, there is a much better option than the old Neosporin & band-aid routine for days on end.
The primary component to preventing tears is to keep your calluses from getting too big. When they get too big the friction between the bar and your skin will push upward against the callus, creating a blister just below it. This blister will form fast, often faster than you even feeling it and trust me, it won’t take much to burst open, which is where the bloody mess comes in.
There are many ways people deal with trimming their calluses – some use a pumice stone, some use a file, and others (like me) just use a nail clipper to clip the calluses directly. For what it’s worth, I have tried to do the pumice stone and file method, but it was never ENOUGH to really cut my calluses down to size. What can I say? I grow them big and fast! Also, I think those two methods require more daily work, the trimming with a nail clipper is usually something I do just once a week.
I prefer to do this after showering while my skin is soft. It sounds crazy, I know, but believe me I have yet to ever bleed or even break new skin when doing this. After showering just start clipping at the peak point of your callus, and work your way up, down and around the whole area taking up as much of this dead (and sensation-less skin) as possible. It may take up to a dozen clips per callus to actually remove enough skin, and it won’t be perfectly flat, it will be slightly ridged with indentations. However, it does feel awesome when you need to scratch anything! And it does seem to even itself out again over the next few days, so I wouldn’t stress about that either.
The point is to get it filed down to being as flat as possible, while still leaving that tough, callused skin in place because hey, it’s there for a reason!
There are days when I will get through 98 of 100 pull-ups before ripping but when the rips happen, it sucks. It used to suck for days upon days when I relied on Neosporin to help the skin heal, but now with crossFIXE I can be back on the bar within 24 hours.
After ripping I immediately go wash my hands to get all the dirt and grime out of the open wound. Yes, this HURTS. There is no way around it. I then immediately apply some crossFIXE to the open wound. On the first day when my skin is super sensitive, I usually scrape some off the crossFIXE bar with a thumbnail and apply it that way. It’s just a bit gentler than rubbing the bar into my hand. But do it however you can tolerate it, just get that crossFIXE on ASAP!
I carry my crossFIXE around throughout the day to continue to re-apply when it looks like I have rubbed it off or it has soaked in. I like to keep it good and covered with the crossFIXE, but leave it open to the air. I keep a thick enough layer of crossFIXE on that even if I accidentally get some soap and water on the wound, I usually don’t really “feel” it through the crème.
Within 24 hours my rip is no longer “open” but has a thin layer of new skin thanks to the crossFIXE. It will feel so good in just going about your everyday activities you will think it’s all the way healed, but it isn’t back to normal just quite yet! If you do have more bar or barbell work at the gym, I recommend you stick two pieces of tape together and then cut a slit for your finger so that the tape provides a thin barrier over the newly developed skin on the rip. I have worked out on a bar without the protective tape barrier 24 hours after ripping and applying crossFIXE, and sometimes it will just rip the fresh skin off again. The good news is it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as a “fresh” rip, but it just slows the healing process obviously!
I will continue to apply crossFIXE to my new rips whenever I was my hands for the next several days. I will use the protection of tape (stuck together, not taped TO my hand) for a couple of days depending on what the activities are, just to make sure the new skin has time to toughen up before it is rubbing on its own against a bar.
Since I began really trimming my calluses I have only had a few real rips and it is usually after a few days of pretty consistent work on a bar, and only one real epic with 4 rips (2 per hand!). Thanks to crossFIXE I am able to minimize the pain and maximize my time in the gym by getting after it again right away!
Bonus tip: On my first day of ripping I usually shower with latex gloves on (and rubber bands at the wrist) so that I can wash my hair, and thanks to crossFIXE I only have to do this on the first day because by day 2 my hands have already healed enough that this task doesn’t elicit screaming!
What tips do you follow when caring for you cross training hands? Let us know in the comments down below!