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Tuesday
Oct202015

Rest Day

Congrats to Team Big Thighs Full Hearts Can't Lose for winning Fight Gone Bad on Saturday, with 1,711 reps!

Hand Care for CrossFitters, Part 1

By Noah Abbott

“Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction: Dry friction resists relative lateral motion of two solid surfaces in contact. When surfaces in contact move relative to each other, the friction between the two surfaces converts kinetic energy into thermal energy. This property can have dramatic consequences, as illustrated by the use of friction created by rubbing pieces of wood together to start a fire. Another important consequence of many types of friction can be wear, which may lead to performance degradation and/or damage to components.” —Dr. Wiki Pedia 

While this may be the most boring and technical opening to an article about CrossFit ever, thinking about friction when related to hand care is useful for isolating and overcoming the fundamental problem faced by kippers everywhere. In short, the solid surface of your hand slides against the (much more) solid surface of the bar, leading to dramatic consequences and damage to components (ripped hands) and subsequent performance degradation (having to stop a workout or avoid workouts while your boo boo heals.)

While it may seem like an inevitable rite of passage to do a high volume kipping workout, tear your hands to shreds, and then post pictures of it to social media, ripped hands are simply drags on optimal performance. Further, hands that are constantly rough, flaky, and/or bloody are, to put it mildly, gross. So, what’s fledgling CrossFitter/hand model to do? There are plenty of ways to take care of your hands, both intra and extra-WOD. The following routine is what has worked well for me, use at your own risk (of beautiful, baby soft mitts!). 

During a Workout
During a workout, reducing friction is all about reducing lateral motion between your hand and the bar. Make sure you grip the bar right where your palm and fingers meet—any lower and you risk folding skin under the bar, adding to the surface causing friction. Then, grip the bar tightly, and motion during a kip should happen at your wrist, not through your hand rotating around the bar. You are trying to grip the bar with your skeleto-muscular structure, not the thin layer of epidermis covering it. Don’t grip the bar so deeply in your palm that the skin near your fingers scrunches up—that’s creating a fleshy surface for the bar to rip. Here’s Mark Rippetoe, folksy as ever, taking a long time to say just that (this is the shorter of two videos I could find from him). 

The biggest thing you can do during a workout to avoid rips is to pay attention to your hands and fear the last 5-10 reps of a workout. Every time I’ve ripped it’s been between reps 95 and 100 in a workout like Angie—that’s usually the part when you are tired, stomping on the gas, and having to really throw everything behind every rep. The added force and shift of attention from your hands to the clock often leads to a rip, just as you finish the workout. If you feel your hands getting hot (thermal energy!) or skin starting to shift, drop from the bar and rest for a bit. In the words of Papa Osorio, “Be careful,” and be especially careful at the end of a workout. 

Also, unless you are literally in danger of falling off the bar and cracking your head open, don’t overdo it with the chalk! (This shouldn’t even be an issue if you are gripping with your thumb around the bar, like a homo sapien.) While chalk can help promote a good relationship of your hand to the bar, especially if you are a little sweaty, overchalking can cause your hand to stick when you don’t need/want it to, especially when trying to release the bar. 

There are a number of ways to protect your hands from the bar. CrossFit’s commercialization has led to all sorts of gloves, wraps, and other bar-hand barriers being available. For the most part, the tradeoff between protection, grip, and “feel” is up to the user. Generally gloves offer lots of protection but poor grip and feel (also, do NOT buy Reebok’s CrossFit gloves, they are just marked-up batting gloves, which you can buy for 10 bucks elsewhere). Gymnastics grips are a pretty good compromise. Classically they are suede (fancy!) with a wrist wrap, like these from Rogue, or these from MuscleDriver. NaturalGrip makes a lower profile version that is a permanent (or at least semi-permanent) grip that you secure with athletic tape or a wrist wrap. The NaturalGrips are based off the tape jobs people have been using to protect themselves pre/post tear for a while, which are also a good option. Here is a pretty involved way to tape, very similar to the heartier NaturalGrip. Here’s a slightly quicker/dirtier way to do it, more appropriate mid-WOD. The main theme is that the tape needs to run both lengthwise and across your palm, otherwise it will roll up under and movement and either fall off your hand or be the world’s crappiest bracelet. Further, you don’t need tons of tape, your hand shouldn’t look like this when you are done.

Home Prep
Taking care of your hands does not start and stop when you walk in the gym. A little consistent attention at home will make sure your hands are both less aesthetically gross and less susceptible to tearing at the gym. Flaky, cracked hands with big, raised calluses are asking for trouble, because the rough callus represents one half of the two solid surfaces that create friction. Since we can’t do anything about the bar, making sure your calluses are smooth and low-profile will keep you from tearing. 

There are plenty of tools for shaving down calluses, but in my opinion most of them suck. Pumice stones, Ped-Eggs, nail files, and other sorts of abrasives require daily use and are pretty slow. I think of them more as “finishing” tools for getting your hands smooth after the real work has been done. For this heavy-duty work I recommend the Tweezerman Safety Slide Callus Shaver with Rasp. The Tweezerman is basically a razor blade on a stick, akin to a cheese grater for your hand. You use it when your hands are dry and it shaves your callus down in big, satisfying flakes. It has a built in rasp for the fine cleanup work at the end, and only costs 10 bucks, making it the king of callus care in my book. While it takes a little bit of bravery the first few times, it pretty quickly becomes natural to use and works wonders. Get one, and again, don’t use it in the shower, it will bite into your softened skin and get stuck, as opposed to slicing off nice little flakes.

Lastly, make sure to keep your hands moisturized. Buy a decent lotion and use it whenever you can, especially after you cut your calluses down. Smooth, supple hands are less prone to cracking, and won’t stick to the bar like dry hands. Just take it easy with the scents, this isn’t middle school.

Wound Care
If you do rip, don’t freak out. First, assess where you are in the workout. If there are six pull-ups left, just finish the damn thing. If there are 60, it’s scaling time—no sense in ruining a week of training just to finish. 

Make sure you wash the wound and spray some Bactene on it. Cold water is key here—hot water will sting like bajeezus. Then let it dry. When you get home, cut off any excess skin. I use the Tweezeman for this, but you could use nail scissors, a katana, an angle grinder, or whatever you want.  

A Final Thought
In the end, the biggest factor in not ripping is simply time. The longer you do this stuff the more time under tension you accumulate, and the more conditioned your hands become. Further, the easier pull-ups are for you, the less likely you are to tear. Most coaches and OGs brag that they haven’t ripped in “forever,” but like most people they probably ripped a bunch initially, and then slowly got strong, skilled, and epidermically-conditioned enough for it to not be a big issue. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 from Coach Fox, coming your way next week!

_____________________ 
CrossFit, Whole30, and Chinese Buffets SunHerald
How CrossFit Has Changed From 2009-Present SweatWorks

Reader Comments (20)

Wednesday's Programming

Back Squat

Performance: Medium Intensity, 75-80% x 5 x 4
Fitness: 3 x 8 Linear Progression
Heavier than last week.

Exposure 2/8
Post loads to comments.
_____________________

Performance

"Amanda"

9-7-5 Reps for Time:
Muscle-Ups
Snatches 135/95
Rx for the snatch is a full squat. If it's caught high there cannot be a discernible pause before riding to the bottom of a squat. Scaling to power snatches is acceptable if lack of mobility requires it.

Fitness

For Time:
21/15 Calorie Row
15 Power Snatches 95/65
15/12 Calorie Row
10 Power Snatches
19/9 Calorie Row
6 Power Snatches
The barbell weight should be light enough to perform them unbroken on the fast end, or with minimal rest.

Post time and Rx to comments.

October 19, 2015 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

6am doing Wednesday's workout with McDowell and crew

Squat: Partnered with DanL and hit 245# x 5 x 4. Squats felt fairly crisp considering how fried my legs are from the last three days.

WOD: Did Amanda in 9:32 at Rx weight. I like this workout and did :30 fast than my last time. Hit the MU's in 4/3/2, 5/2, 5, and the snatches as singles with a drop and pause after each one.

Great article Noah!

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael A.

Shhhhh... I've been following SBK programming for this cycle during OG at my box, so I figured I'd post in here.

Press 5x4 @105
DL 5x4 @ 235

WOD 7:21 Rx

Does Rogue sell lungs, because mine don't seem to provide enough oxygen?

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob F.

6am doing Wednesday's work with McDowell. I did the performance back squats at 210, which is exactly 75% of my 280 1rm. These felt fine and I'm feeling good about raising these percentages going forward.

I did the fitness WOD with 75# snatches in 7:03. Snatches were 5-5-5, 5-5, 6. I could probably have shaved little bit of time off if I'd done the first set 8-7, but I'm OK with how this went.

Great, and useful, article, Noah. One note: If you're using an angle grinder to get loose skin off of your hands, you are probably the Thing and in that case, you should just ask your friend Reed Richards for a handcare solution. That guy's got mad science moves for all sorts of issues.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Partnered with Michael for the HBBS - 245x5x4. Felt pretty good. Got a little slower on the last set. Could have rested a little more before that one.

Amanda in 9:06 Rx'd. This is :04 slower than last time I did it, but that time we didn't have the "catch at the bottom" requirement, which lost me 4 reps this time where I had to stand up prematurely to avoid dumping the weight forward.

MUs were not bad and my tweaked forearm is feeling a lot better.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDan L

This is the pinnacle of my Crossfit career. I can now retire from fitness.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAriel

6am with Jess and McD - Monday's programming with Jess

Switched things up a bit on the lifts so I could figure out my openers for Sunday.

Press: 165 ties my PR set at last years meet, and felt pretty solid especially considering I had been awake for approximately 40 minutes at that point. Will open at 155, 2nd attempt at 165, and then 170 or 175 for the last one depending on how I feel.

45x5
95x5
135x3
155x1
165x1 (tie PR)

Deadlift: Worked up to 405. There were some shaky knees going on with that lift, but it actually felt pretty good and I was in no danger of failing. Will probably make that my second attempt at the meet. Jess pointed out that I was a little loose in my lats and the bar was just slightly out in front, so I'll focus on keeping it in on Sunday.

135x5
225x3
315x1
365x1
405x1

Metcon: 6:10 Rx. Box overs were fast. Burpees were slow.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrad D

AG

Muscle up Workshop

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCoach Ro

Great article Noah. As someone who has very soft and rippable baby hands I've been following Noah's advice and haven't had a serious rip in a while now. Keith also steered me towards Burts Bees Hand Salve for applying on the calluses and I think it has also really helped.

6am with McDowell
215 x 8
215 x 7 - Then the dreaded my spine felt like it got ripped out on #8. Shawn said I just lost all tension at the bottom. Tried to stand it but just bailed it. Frustrating reoccurrence of my old injury. Will be out for a while.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

6am w/ McDowell & Wednesday programming

HBBS: 205x5x3, 200x5 -- Forgot to add the 2.5 plates to the bar during a middle set. Weight moved well and controlled bounce.

Metcon: 12:30 @ 115#. First time doing Amanda with a legit squat snatch. Focused on snatch form instead of just ripping it straight off the ground. The last 5 felt crisp and solid. Also realized that my muscle ups are there, just lazy form results in fails.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBK

6am with McDowell

LBBS: 95x5, 135x5, 185x5, 200x5x4. I tried to remember to keep my weight back and lead with my hips, but still had a few where I came forward on my toes. Left knee also felt a little wonky on a few of the reps.

Fitness WOD in 6:41? (Or 6:31). Snatches were 8-7, 5-5, 6 at 63#. They weren't the prettiest but I found my form got better as the workout went on.

Great article Noah! I've been using the callus shaver since taking the pull-up workshop and it's really helped. Now I just need to be able to do pull-ups :)

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

7 AM squattin' with Mrs. Fox, who caught me pitching forward on a couple of reps in the second set. Other than that, today went quite nicely.

HBBSQ 165x5x4. I like 5s better than 7s :)

Special-snowflake WOD: running (400, 270, 130) instead of rowing, 21-15-9 slam balls instead of power snatch. 6:42, not too hard. Then a lot of yelling for people doing burpees while I mashed my calves.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStella

10AM W/ Jess Fox:

LBBS @225x5x4. All moved well. Next medium intensity will be at 240 (80%).

WOD: Did the Rowing/Snatching because my muscle-ups have gone out the window. Realized I should practice them again before/after class to build that skill up again. Finished Rx'ed at 7:04. Thought it would take longer. The snatches scared me. Broke them into 5's, and Jess's encouragement got me the final 6 unbroken.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRio

Great article Noah! I'll admit I had the tendency to use too much chalk in the past, mostly as an excuse to rest. Too much chalk really can chew up your hands after awhile! I've definitely gotten better about cutting back over the past 6 months. Also that callus shaver rules, made my hands smooooove as a baby's bottom.

Anyway, hit the 12pm class today:

Press: 68# 3x5

Amanda: 18:44 RX

Second time I've gone through this one. Went into this thinking I had some potential to scorch my old time (somewhere around 15-16 min)...yeaaah that wasn't happening. Muscle ups went okay. Squat snatches were just silly. I no repped myself about 6-7 times. Had a lot of trouble hitting full depth when I was tired. BUT so glad that Jess and Jeremy were there to push me through at the end. That was really nice of you to stick around even though I was well over the time cap!!! You guys are the best.

MU: 3-2-2-1-1, 2-2-1-1-1(had a fail in here somewhere), 2-1-1-1
Snatches: all singles, with no-reps sprinkled in-between

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterK HarpZ

Cashout: some casual fitness modeling for Google maps w/ DO. I feel like that's the closest i'll ever get to being famous.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterK HarpZ

6:30 with Jess

155x5x4. Last set belted to speed it up because I was out of time.
Wod at 53# in 6:42. The slow walks to and from the erg slowed me down more than it should have

Decided to do AG and had fun doing banded Muscle up transitions, swings on the rings and some banded ring dips. Definitely going to work on ring dips from now on.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJenny m

Great coaching today by Whit! Lots of good cues and attention to lifts.
I did Monday's workout:
Press: 155x5x3
Deadlift: up to 365 for 5

Metcon: 4:44

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBryan Babbitt

Great article Noah! All important points that have helped me reduce tearing.
I used to tear and get frustrated because I thought I was following all the advices, but your point about time at the end is key. Even during periods when my pull ups are not as strong (eh hem, currently), my hands are more epidermically-conditioned and I have a better sense of when to just come down off the bar before it's too late.

K HarpZ -- Always appreciate reading your posts.

McD Session today coming off of lots of rest and meditation (yes I can sit still and silent for short periods of time). Hit the reset button and am feeling good

Everything in our session was hard but showing improvement in rowing and strength..

5 min :30 on :30 off row

14 min EMOM
10 cal row (staying in the 900 range, dipping into the 1000 cal/hr)
1 power clean, 1 hang clean (35kg, 40, 45, 50, 55 - ugly and failed a couple - mental block on power cleaning)

3 rounds of:
5-8 fatbar wrist curls
8 bent over rows 35kg
5 glute-ham raises

5 or so sets of butterfly pull-ups

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Great article Noah! All important points that have helped me reduce tearing.
I used to tear and get frustrated because I thought I was following all the advices, but your point about time at the end is key. Even during periods when my pull ups are not as strong (eh hem, currently), my hands are more epidermically-conditioned and I have a better sense of when to just come down off the bar before it's too late.

K HarpZ -- Always appreciate reading your posts.

McD Session today coming off of lots of rest and meditation (yes I can sit still and silent for short periods of time). Hit the reset button and am feeling good

Everything in our session was hard but showing improvement in rowing and strength..

5 min :30 on :30 off row

14 min EMOM
10 cal row (staying in the 900 range, dipping into the 1000 cal/hr)
1 power clean, 1 hang clean (35kg, 40, 45, 50, 55 - ugly and failed a couple - mental block on power cleaning)

3 rounds of:
5-8 fatbar wrist curls
8 bent over rows 35kg
5 glute-ham raises

5 or so sets of butterfly pull-ups

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

@ariel! I can't believe you're suprised: big thighs, full hearts... can't lose!!!!

Monday's workout
Press: 58 5X3 Technique is improving so much-- really focusing on straight bar path

Deadlift: 150 for 5 and DEFINITELY room to grow. My 1 RM at Iron Maidens woo woo. Had to use switch grip because of my stupid callous pain from a bad tear and improper hand care.

Speaking of which, super helpful article. I ordered that callous trimmer on amazon today!

More fun at AG today. Love working on muscle-ups, but they're probably a year away... at least!

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAllie B

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