You’ve got 9 pull-ups left in what will be the best “Fran” time of your life…just your burning lungs, your sore hands, and a pull-up bar stand in the way of a lifetime PR. So what do you do? Like any true CrossFit athlete, you tune it out, glance at the clock, then grab that pull-up bar and hang on for dear life! DONE! You’ve just broken your old personal record…but when you look at your hand you notice that’s not all you’ve broken. So what, you’ve torn your hands..you can’t feel it anyway because all you feel is your heart pounding and your excitement from your new PR. But you still have to train this week so what do you do next?
In the last blog, I talked about what I do to keep my hands ready for my workouts and how I avoid rips and tears from heavy bar work, like pull-ups and muscle-ups. While all these tips and tricks are great, they still won’t help you avoid Murphy’s Law, which generally states – Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Eventually we all rip. Call it Payin The Man or the coast of doing business but if you’re working towards your goals and pushing hard in the gym, then one day you’ll hop off that pull-up bar to a bloody hand. So here’s what you do…
The First step is cleaning the area and getting it covered. You should wash your hands well with soap (however painful this may be) and then I like to spray on a little hydrogen peroxide to the ripped area and let that sit for a few seconds. Then dry the area and see if you can cut away any excess skin that ripped away from your hand. Next, apply a good dose of Neosporin to the rip and then bandage with a small band-aid or gauze and tape. It’s important that the area be thoroughly cleaned before you wrap it up to lower the risk of any infection.
Once the rip is cleaned, excess skin is removed, and the area is moist and covered – you have really done about all you can. I like to keep the rip moist with Neosporin or Vitamin E (you can just bust open a gel capsule and rub the oil on the ripped area) for first the 36-48 hours, but only covered for the first night. Before bed you should wash hands again, reapply your Neosporin and a bandage, and keep that on until morning. The next day, just wash your hands and reapply some Neosporin. From this point forward, I’ve found it helpful to keep the rip exposed to fresh air yet still somewhat moist. I’ve found that my skin will heal faster and toughen up a little quicker if I leave the rip uncovered. If you’re training later, then obviously I’d suggest backing off the pull-up bars and kettle bell swings for a day or so and DO keep the area covered during training to keep the open skin clean.
By taking care of the area and backing off the pull-up bars and any other “high friction” movements, you’ll typically be back to training pain free in just a couple days. If you absolutely have to work some “pulling” movements, you can think about subbing out pull-ups for ring rows, bent over barbell rows, kettle bell or dumbbell rows, or even strict pull-ups (where the hand really isn’t slipping or moving very much on the bar during the pull-up). It’s important to train smart so that you can continue to get the most out of your body and your workouts. Step one is to take care of the day to day hand maintenance…but if you do happen to rip, then follow these steps to get back on the bar as soon as possible!