Taking Care of Your Hands

Everyone has seen the obligatory Instagram post of an athlete’s torn hands after a pull up workout.  We’ve seen the Facebook pleas for the “best” gymnastics grips.  The look of panic on your face when you get home from working out and realize you forgot your gloves by the pull up bar.  The same look of panic when you get to the gym and realize you ran out of tape.

These are moments of worry and panic that I don’t generally think about.  I haven’t ever owned grips, nor would I know where to find them if I were to try and buy some.  I have one roll of tape in my bag that only gets used by members who are guilty of the aforementioned problem.  I tore my hands once that I can remember, during my first Murph in the dead heat of May with inefficient pull-ups.

My methods may not work for everyone but if I can save just one set of hands from that shampoo sting, then I declare this article a success.

Here are my few simple secrets:

  1. Wash your hands – Sounds simple, right?  Because it is.  The twist is that you must wash your hands right away after every workout.  The reason we all love chalk so much is because it dries out your hands allowing you to grip the bar without slipping.  If you keep that chalk on your hands for an extended period of time, it will continue to dry out your hands.  This will lead to larger calluses, cracked skin, and eventually, tears.  
  2. Moisturize – Sounds simple, right?  Because it is!  The twist is that you must do it often.  I keep a travel size hand lotion everywhere.  In my car, in my purse, in my gym bag, in my kitchen, (you get the point)…  Anytime my hands feel slightly dry, I moisturize.  Keeping your skin moisturized and soft will prevent those calluses from forming and eventually, tears.
  3. Minimize Your Use of Chalk – Back to the chalk.  Lots of people will hate to hear this one but trust me; you don’t need a lot of chalk.  You’re not Lebron James.  You’re not impressing the crowd with a chalk cloud.  You only need enough chalk to take that previously spoken about moisture off your hands.  Too much chalk will cause too much sticking to and friction with the bar, and, you guessed it, tears.  On the flipside, when the weather is hot and you are sweating profusely, our natural reaction is “MORE CHALK!”  False.  The chalk has now turned to paste and has become useless.  When it comes to chalk, less is more.
  4. Gripping the Bar – This one is a little more complex.  The way you grip the bar matters.  First, start with a neutral grip on the pull up bar.  This means wrapping your thumbs around the bar instead of keeping them next to your index fingers.  Also, avoid the hook grip (I know, you love the hook grip, but get away from it here).  Hook gripping the bar will wrap you too tightly around the bar causing too much friction and eventually lead to blisters.  Next, try placing the bar in the crease where the fingers directly meet the palm.  “Placing the bar in the center of the palm pushes excess skin into the crease, and that can lead to the development of calluses and blisters.”  Finally, avoid constantly re-gripping the bar.  Once again, friction.  If you need to re-grip the bar, hop down, regroup, and then start over.  It may take a few more seconds but will save your hands in the end.

Hopefully these tips work for you and the next time you see me, you’ll be giving me a high-five with smooth, blister-free hands.


Written By: Blair Bayne


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