I don’t understand the people who post pictures of their bloody and torn-up hands. I don’t want to see that. It doesn’t say “tough” to me. From the outside looking in, I think that doesn’t send non-CrossFit athletes the right message. I can’t imagine that anyone who sees pictures of someone with their palms ripped open would think CrossFit would be something they would want to do.
I don’t rip very often. The first time I did was during a WOD in which we did 100 pull-ups over the course of a 15-minute triplet (three movements). When you tear open the palms of your hands, and you are still training, it doesn’t exactly feel the way you think it would feel. Honestly, the few times I’ve done it, there was very little initial pain. Like most of the CrossFit world, I, of course, kept going and made the situation worse. You might see images of people who tear their hand very badly and think, “How could they let it get that bad,” but unless you’ve actually been through it, you don’t know how easy it is for something like this to occur. The other thing is that it generally happens at the end of a workout, and if I only have 10 or fewer reps left, I’m going to go ahead and finish despite the consequences.
Afterward and the next day are the worst. It’s basically like washing your hands or showering while holding a red-hot poker. Additionally, this is an area that you will quickly learn is both extremely difficult to bandage and that you have a lot more contact with water and other irritants than you probably even realized.
Obviously, the best thing to do would be to not rip open your hands. Sometimes this is a matter of planning, and sometimes it can be common sense. I have found that hanging with more of a fingertips grip causes less damage, but I don’t wrap my thumb around the bar, which can be dangerous. For me, this keeps the pressure in the base of my fingers and under my knuckles and allows me to swing back and forth more without rotating the actual palm of my hand in contact with the bar (think of revving a motorcycle handlebar). This technique takes practice and a good deal of grip strength, and the danger would lie in the obvious aspect of losing your grip and falling. Whether it is for toes-to-bars or pull-ups, hanging from your fingers is risky and should be practiced before you just try it in a WOD with heavy amounts of reps.
There are a variety of gloves and grips and methods of taping or protecting the palms in terms of taking a proactive approach. I don’t use any of those and haven’t really found one that I liked or felt comfortable with, but I know they are popular and effective, so if you have some you love, go for it.
What are your thoughts about palm tears? Cool, unfortunate side effect of going hard or technique flaw?
Stay on the Grind.