HAND CARE - How to Prevent and Rehab Rips

23-09-2019 Cecily Sadowski

Ripping your hands are unfortunately a common occurrence in any gym with a lot of barbell- and gymnastics-work being done. Everyone who's ever accidentally put shampoo on their fresh rips while washing their hair can attest to the fact that ripping your hands is no fun at all. Since rips can also seriously interfere with training I thought I'd give some tips on how to prevent rips and how to take care of them if you do get them.


One of the best ways to prevent rips is to remove the calluses from your hands. Calluses form naturally to protect your hands from repeated friction and/or pressure caused by all of the fun grip work we do inside the gym. A bit of protection is a good thing, but when the calluses get too big they can tear which hurts. A lot. There are several ways to remove calluses. The first one is with an "eelt schaaf" (still no idea what the proper English translation is for this, feel free to speculate in the comments). UnScared co-owner Jochem made a video a while back on where to find these and how to use them.

Personally, I use the eelt schaaf in combination with sandpaper to keep my hands smooth. I would highly recommend a Sand Bar as it's one of the few ones I've tried that's rough enough to really get the work done, but small enough to get to all the weird places on your hands. However, I know many UnScaredians that use other (cheaper) alternatives so be sure to give them a try.

Quick note, a sandbar or similar works best when your hands have been wet for a while so per example after a shower, however don't use the eelt schaaf after a shower or you'll take huge painful chunks out of your hands.

Of course, simply keeping your hands healthy and well moisturised will help a lot. Keep in mind that chalk can dry out your hands; not taking a chalk bath every time you have to do a 10 second hang might actually be a good idea.



Improving your technique on your pull ups and other kipping movements kan really help minimise the friction on your hands. Work on your grip strength and focus on trying to keep your hands still while kipping - no regripping! - to keep your hands healthy. However, some movements such as bar and ring muscle ups require regripping and will therefore always be hard on your hands. That's where the other prevention methods mentioned in this article come in handy.



Grips or other protective gloves can help you protect your hands from some of the wear and tear of kipping. There are many different types and materials out there, so if you are interested in buying some I recommend you try them out first by borrowing them from a buddy. One thing to think about when buying grips is the thickness of the material. The thicker the material the harder it becomes to grip the bar, so a thinner grip is generally preferable. Also, keep in mind that grips are far more effective at protecting your hands if you combine them with the methods mentioned above.



First of all, if you feel like your hands are going to rip, consider asking a coach if there's an alternative exercise you could do. Is ripping your hands and not being able to train properly for a week really worth one extra round of pull-ups when you could scale to ring rows?

If you do rip your hands however, make sure you clean it properly with water. This includes cutting (or tearing) off the flap of skin that you ripped off, try to get as close to the healthy skin as possible so it's easier to keep clean. Holding the rip under cold water for a while before tearing/cutting can help numb your hand and make it less uncomfortable.. Once properly cleaned, it's a good idea to cover it with vaseline or something similar to protect the wound and prevent it from cracking and re-opening.

A plaster can help protect the blister and keep it clean for the first few days, but try to keep it dry and change it regularly to prevent infection. Finally, make sure you properly protect the wound during workouts until it's fully healed, AND DON'T REOPEN IT BY DOING THE THING THAT CAUSED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. a.k.a no kipping. If you have a blister that is still fully covered by skin let it be, your body will do a way better job of protecting it than a bit of vaseline and a plaster can do.



Please let me know and I'll answer and advise where I can.

Scrolled all the way down? Here's the "TLDR": Remove any calluses with an "eelt schaaf" or sandpaper and generally care for your hands. Also, try to improve your kipping technique and maybe consider buying grips if you still keep getting rips. Care for your rips by removing the flap of skin and cleaning the wound, cover it with vaseline and a plaster and don't reopen it.

Cecily Sadowski

About Cecily Sadowski

Cecily is a Weightlifting and CrossFit coach at UnScared and has a background in competitive swimming. As the youngest member of the full-time coaching staff, she is also responsible for part of our injury management, event organisation and member retention. 

Leave a comment