How to Prevent Hand Tearing & What to do if it Happens to You
Written by Michele Vieux
Please be mindful of NOT tearing your hands because 1) it’s not cool and 2) you might need them for something more important than exercising for time.
You need your hands to wash your hair without strands getting caught in the wounds, to touch other people’s hands without grossing them out or spreading the MRSA you are more likely to catch by placing them all over the gym and hand rails at the mall, and likely for the next Open workout which is surely going to include something on the pull-up bar, rings or barbell. If you tear your hands in practice, how well will you perform when it really matters?
Hand Tear Prevention Strategies
– Feel free to modify in order to protect yourself. If you see a lot of grip work like kettlebell swings combined with something like toes-to-bar or pull-ups or even high reps (relative to your abilities) on any of these types of movements, it is ok to cut back on the reps or change the movement all together. The grip failure you might endure isn’t as bad as tearing your hands because you can give yourself tomorrow off to recuperate. Torn hands could take up to a week or more to heal though which means you can’t do things with them for that duration, thereby limiting your training and more. Ask your coach if you need help with ideas for how to modify a workout or reach out on this blog for help – that’s why we’re here!
– Learn to identify what “hot spots” feel like. Hot spots are just what they sound like. They are places where either blisters are beginning to form or the outer layers of skin are beginning to separate from the layers below. They actually feel hot. If you feel like these are coming on, stop what you are doing immediately and do not finish the movements that caused the spot to form. Choose a different movement so you can keep moving through the workout. Unless you are in competition, there is no point in tearing to complete a workout that is supposed to be making you healthier.
– Keep your calluses maintained. There are many methods people like to use so test some of these ideas and decide which works best for you. (Hand Maintenance; How to Care for Your Hands; Tips for Hand Maintenance)
What to do if You Tear Your Hands (or receive any surface-level skin injury)?
1) Wash your hands with warm, soapy water ASAP.
2) Cut away any loose skin. Gross!
3) Apply some Neosporin or other anti-bacterial ointment for the first day or two. Vitamin E can work wonders in this situation too. Just poke a hole in one of those gel caps and use the liquid inside to rub onto the injury. Please note that this recommendation is for surface injuries only and should not be used on deep wounds of any kind!
4) Let them air out after that but cover them when there is a chance of contracting infection.
Blister but no Tear? Try This
1) Wait until the blister is not tender to the touch. (This could happen immediately or in a day.)
2) Wash hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water.
3) Apply alcohol to the blister.
4) Sanitize a sewing needle or safety pin with alcohol.
5) Drain the blister by poking it with the needle – preferably from a side angle – and pressing the liquid out.
Wash hands again.
6) Do not remove the blister at first as it creates a natural band-aid. Sometimes the blister will glue itself back down onto the separated skin below, which is great. Problem solved. If the skin does not reattach, wait a couple days for the skin below to heal then cut it away. You will know when it’s time to do this because it won’t hurt to stick some fingernail scissors in there to do it.
Hopefully these tips will help you prevent unnecessary hand injuries and heal faster if you do accidentally endure one. At the least, they should help you not gross out your friends, family and co-workers. Post any of your hand maintenance tips to the comments below!
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