Clean and Jerk 1RM
Oh $#$@ I ripped – now what?
What is the 1st giveaway that someone CrossFits? Checkout their hands! I know my hands look pretty decent until you flip them palms up and see that they actually resemble hands of an Appalachian lumberjack. It really freaks people out when they catch a glimpse – my favorite is walking in to get a manicure and seeing the reaction on the manicurists face when my hands had a little less than an ideal week – it’s awesome!
As a former gymnast, I think I got my first rip at age 4 and have had the (often time painful) privilege to try just about every precaution and remedy out there (except for pickle juice which someone mentioned the other day!) and wanted to share my “best of” to prevent them and suggest what to do if you unfortunately get one.
What is a rip?
If you are reading this and you don´t know what a rip is and you´ve been CrossFitting for over 1 month – kudos to you but…..you should probably be working a little harder on the kip in your pull-up – just kidding (kinda) ;)! Calluses are hardened areas of skin that develop in response to a prolonged point of friction in order to protect your skin. Because that skin has hardened, the dead cells don´t “slough off” the way normal skin does. A rip occurs because too much excess dead skin is sitting on top of a developed callus at a friction point and when the thickness becomes too great, the callus tears off or rips.
If you CrossFit or hang from bars, you will develop calluses (good thing) which can, if left on their own rip (not so pleasant). The idea is to develop great calluses that will allow you to perform 40+ pull-ups in a row but not lose training time because they rip halfway thru a workout. “Callus Maintenance” is needed to prevent rips from occurring.
There are lots of methods that work to sand down your calluses. You want to make sure that the skin remains tough but all the edges are smooth. Some tools I´ve used that are effective are the ped egg, a callus shaver (intended for the feet), and razor blades both on moist and/or dry skin. The key is to try a few different ways, adopt your favorite, and make time to do it every week! Remember, you are shaving off DEAD skin but the soft skin around the callus is very much alive and has nerve endings – don´t mess with that! Also, I do not recommend picking because it´s not as precise and has a tendency to create tears rather than prevent them.
Oh-no! It happened!
So now what? Miss a week of CrossFit? Ask your coach to give you a substitute for pull-ups because your hand is in shambles? First, it depends on the rip, but if possible, here´s my advice for coming back faster even with one of the worst kinds of rips – the bloody ones!
1. IMMEDIATELY following a rip, cut off the flap of skin. If it´s a bad one, tell a coach and they will show you where the scissors are and help you inspect your apparatus for blood. If you don´t notice until your home or want to assemble your own “rip” kit, scissors with a slight bend at the tip work well. I tend to use nail clippers or cuticle cutters because they are easier to maneuver with one hand. The most important thing is to cut that flap off as close to the skin as humanly possible.
2. Wash your hands. Totally painful, I get it but it has to happen as an infected rip is way worse!
3. Get that sucker closed – fast! This is the biggest area of discussion as there are probably a hundred ways to do it and some fancy products on the market (I dislike the ones with alcohol). My favorite is taking a black tea bag, wetting it completely (doesn´t matter what temperature water) and wrapping the string around my hand while clutching the bag. I move it around or flip it over every 5 or so minutes for about 15 minutes. It stings a little and your hand will be a little discolored when you take it off (see above photo), but the rips will be closed. If there is still a little oozing going on, I repeat after letting it breathe for 30 minutes.
4. Cover them during the day with Neosporin and band aids.
5. Leave them open at night – no band aids
6. Cover them when you work out and modify the exercises that hurt if needed.
To better looking hands!