How gymnasts Should Deal with Hand Rips and Tears
I’d argue that the gymnast’s most important asset is his or her hands. Rough skin formation, calluses, bleeding, rips and tears in your hands are inevitable if you are a gymnast. This is because of the amount of time and pressure that your hand spends sliding and grinding against bars and grips. There are, however, a few things that you can do to decrease the amount of damage that your hands sustain, and speed up recovery when they are inflicted with such annoying barriers to progress.
There are products that are essential to the gymnast who struggles with damaged hands. These include an antibacterial spray or foam, a dry antiseptic spray, a skin file or pumice stone (I would recommend both) and a protective balm like Climb On.
Preventing rips and tears
You might not be able to prevent skin damage on the hand entirely, but there are measures that you can take to reduce its occurrence.
1) Use the pumice stone to remove the bulk of the dead skin build-up
Use the pumice stone to remove accumulated dead skin and even out ridges. Start by softening the skin with warm water – either in a hot shower, a hot bath or soaking your hand in warm water. Once the skin if softened, it will be easier to remove most of the dead skin with a pumice stone. Be careful not to scrub living skin – this will lead to more damage when the whole point is to reduce it. Focus on the bulk of the dead skin, not the small areas. It is very easy to harm normal skin in this step, so only focus on the hardest areas. This will help to smoot out the skin, since ridges and cracks are where tears like to start. Do not use the pumice stone to remove ALL of the dead skin. Just use it to remove the majority of it in places where there is a lot of it. You will smooth out the remaining patches of dry skin through exfoliation.
2) Use a skin file and/or pumice stone to smooth out the skin
Once the bulk of the dead skin is removed using the above method, let the skin dry out. Now exfoliate the skin using a skin file and/or pumice stone to eliminate patches and ridges. Ridges are breeding grounds for skin tears. Any uneven skin can lead to rips throughout the inner layers of skin.
3) Use a wet or dry antiseptic spray afterwards
Apply an antiseptic product to the skin after clearing dead skin away to ensure that the new skin does not get infected. Use the dry antiseptic spray before training so that you protect your hands from infection without risking any slippage.
4) Use a skin healing balm like Climb On
The last step in this process it to add a deeply nourishing and healing balm like Climb On to encourage the healing process and keep the skin moisturised. This will help the skin to adapt to the pressures placed on it.
Long-term prevention: Exfoliate your hands regularly
Exfoliation trains the skin to speed up the regenerative process by producing more new skin cells. Exfoliate your hands and wrists regularly so that the skin learns to produce tougher skin and create new layers of skin at a faster rate. Do this in your spare time once a week for a few weeks, and then increase it to two or three times when they have become accustom to the shedding of old skin cells. This will help to keep your hands smooth while also encouraging new, tougher skin formation.
Learn when too much is too much for your hands
There is a common misconception that tough athletes aren’t deterred by hand injuries. This is not only far from the truth, but could end up costing you much more time away from training if you don’t treat them early enough. A hand injury should be treated in the same way as a muscle or joint injury: Give it time to heal or it will end up taking even more time away from training later down the line. If your hands are ripped, you need to give them time to heal.
When do your hands need a break?
When do you decide that your hands need a little recovery time? The perfect answer would be just before they rip (open up and start bleeding), but you don’t really know when this is about to happen. The second best answer, and one which we can easily see, is right after they’ve opened up. If your hands are bleeding, they need time to recover. Don’t use them under a lot of pressure until new skin is able to form and strengthen itself, or the amount of time needed to recover could be prolonged. Bleeding means stop. After healing, pink skin needs to either be treated very gently or be given more time so that it is more durable when you hit the bar.
You can still train while you wait for your hands to recover
Giving your hands time to recover does not mean foregoing training altogether. Take this time to focus on other forms of training that you might be meaning to get to, but never had the time.
Speed up the healing process of ripped hands
Once you have ripped hands, there are a few things that you can do to speed up the healing process.
Treating ripped hands
The first thing to do after ripping your hand is to apply an antiseptic spray or foam. This will prevent infections that could make the problem a lot worse. Hand and skin infections from ripped skin are more common than you think. Clean up the ripped hand as soon as you can by rinsing it and then using an antiseptic product afterwards.
For the first day and night, cover up the skin so that it can start its healing process. After that, leave it open so that it can start drying up. If it stays moist for too long, the healing process will take longer.
After that, give your hands a break from training until they have recovered and are ready to be used again.
Ripped hands might be the name of the game for gymnasts, but with the proper care and understanding when to give your hands a breather when they need it, you can reduce the amount of times that you need to sit out on precious training. Treat your hands well today, and they will thank you tomorrow.
Written by Saguren Redyrs, editor of SA Spotters