Ask Coach Nichole: “What can I do to keep my hands from ripping?”

April 17, 2017 by Ben Spearman

Well funny story; recently I’ve been dealing with hand skin tears and low and behold gymnastic grip advertisements began appearing. It just so happens my hand issues coincided with open workout 17.2. Can you say pull up/muscle up and toes to bar? Social media was subsequently flooded with hand care tips and even more products. These products claims to help enhance grip, improve comfort and provide wrist support.

Fitness companies are notorious for product pushes; always promising better performance and injury protection. Social media platforms are a common way that product advertisements are personalized – some of you may notice a plethora of CrossFit products popping up. I’m sure like me, many of you have wondered…Do these products really work?

After sifting through all these advertisements one video stood out the most – that featuring retired gymnast Kati Breazeal. The video below highlights both good grip and poor grip pull up bar techniques.  A few seconds into the video I realized my grip technique may be causing my hand tears. As in most cases it always comes back to technique right!

Of course, I remind myself frequently, prevention is the key to avoid rips! By properly taking care of calluses,shaving them and hydrating your hands, you can help avoid tears. Additionally, having proper bar grip during movements can reduce the occurrence.

However (like me), even after adjusting your technique, you may decide to invest in grips.  While researching the onslaught of advertised products, I found a few different styles / types. Most fell into the following categories: leather palm, cloth palm, tape or natural grips.  Each one claims to enhance grip and improve hand comfort. Overwhelmed by the options, I sought out the different material pros and cons: 1) leather palm grips seemed to be durable and inexpensive; 2) cloth grips were durable and comfortable but did not provide the same protection as leather grips; tape or natural grips had a great fit and were comfortable, but durability and wrist support were both questionable.

One company, JAW, actually took the subject head-on by stating “Why fabric over tape and leather?” Tape is prone to rip easily, is not a sturdy material and requires constant replacements. Leather is often too thick, which causes discomfort, and has extremely limited flexibility. JAW Pullup Grips, on the other hand, offer the perfect balance between comfort, protection, and effectiveness.”

So how do we choose? Trial and error, available color options, recommendations, or that of our favorite CrossFit athlete endorses?  Whatever the method let us know your thoughts to settle the debate. What other products are you curious about?  Interested in knee sleeves or CrossFit Shoes? Let us know!

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