Hand Care 101

We’ve all been there. Some days our hands are just raw from training. After training 4 to 6 days a week for 5 years on top of a full time job where I’m constantly washing my hands, I’ve managed to take pretty good care of my hands so that I have minimal tears or discomfort when I’m lifting. Here are a couple tips that have helped me along the way.

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 hands with chalk

Callus Care

Your significant other might find calluses gross. To me, a man without calluses on his hands... well, boy, bye. Calluses form where there is a good amount of friction going on. As a weightlifter, calluses are essential to barbell work and eventually act as cushions and latches for your grip. When they get too big, they can lead to a blister or tear. To help keep them healthy, file or trim them down to comfort. Nail clippers and callus shavers usually do the trick. As a gymnast, I sometimes used a disposable razor. It helps to trim your calluses a little at a time. If you shave off too much, you could leave those friction spots unprotected and risk a blister or tear.

Thumb Tape

 stretchy tape

It’s not uncommon that you see a weightlifter with their whole thumb taped. After unst-thousand reps, those little digits could use some support. Some people tape their thumbs for comfort against the knurling or for actual joint support. Thumb tape has evolved from regular athletic tape to stretchy, textured tape. This allows for more versatile application to let your thumb bend. Our favorite brands at Cal Strength are Lyft RX, LiftGenie, and White Magic by Average Broz. A little bit of stretchy tape goes a long way.

Lifting Straps

Some lifters can snatch everyday with straps and be fine the next day without. I am not one of those lifters. BUT, I do use straps when I think giving my grip a break will not interfere with the benefit of the exercise. Especially since I have small hands, I use straps for snatch complexes or pulls. I try not to use straps for singles from the floor. At Cal Strength, we do not recommend the use of straps for the novice lifter, but it is certainly an option when your hands aren’t feeling well. Before using straps, please make sure you know how to use them correct especially in an event of a missed lift.

Tape Grip

In the awful circumstance of a tear, a tape grip is simple, cheap, and disposable option to provide some comfort. With regular athletic tape, you can fashion yourself a layer of protection between your hand and the barbell that isn’t too bulky and stays put. Follow these steps.

 tape strips
  1. Cut 2 strips of tape double the length of the top of your palm to just past the wrist.

  2. Fold the strip in half lengthwise.

  3. Fold that strip in half to make a loop on one end.

  4. With the loop exposed, lay the strips on one end of the other piece of tape.

  5. Fold the rest of the second piece of tape over.

  6. Add layers of tape for added support. Too much tape will decrease the bar feel in your hands.

Moisturize

Rips and tears are terrible, but so are skin CRACKS. Chalk can make your skin very dry. Although, cracks are not as common, they do happen and are very painful. Depending on where they are, they can be very difficult to heal. A good hand moisturizer after training is a good idea, especially if you train in dry weather. Our other 48kg lifter, Michelle Giannino trains in Arizona and recommends Corn Huskers or Working Hands lotion to keep dry paws moisturized between training session.

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