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August 26, 2022

Coaches how often do your clients rip?

Ok coaches, how often do you hear your athletes say something like “are we on the rig today?” or “do you have any tape, I ripped my hands yesterday?” or even worse, “Coach I can usually do toes to bar but my hands are still messed up from last week's pullups, what else can I do today instead?” If you are anything like me, you hear those questions ALL THE TIME. And try as we might, it is nearly impossible to get people to come off the rig BEFORE they rip their hands. Whether it’s due to a competitive spirit, stubbornness, ignorance, or simply a lack of knowing what that “pre-rip feeling” feels like. Most of my athletes will keep going until that janky, hard, thick callus rips off causing pain, blood, sometimes tears… but most importantly causing them to be out of the game at 100% for DAYS. 

We seem to spend a lot of time working with our clients on technique with the barbell and body position with gymnastics and eating guidelines with regards to nutrition. We even talk to them about warming up, cooling down, and the benefits of proper recovery for the muscles and joints that we use in any specific workout. What we don’t do, and I'm just as guilty of it, is talk about recovery of one of our most prized possessions OUR HANDS. 

Our Hands Are The Most Important Possession

If you think about it, we use them for almost every movement under the su. If we know that, then why don’t we treat them with the same respect as we do, let's say… our quads or our hamstrings? Our hands take a beating every day we walk into that gym and perform a workout. They are responsible for holding onto potentially hundreds of pounds on a barbell, the handle of the rower or ski erg, and most importantly, in my opinion (because of the potential for injury upon failure) they are responsible for keeping us on the rig during everything from a jumping pull 

up to a bar muscle up and everything in between. 

Why do I say all of this you might be asking?Because there is a very simple yet highly effective tool out there that you can recommend to your clients that is going to help them properly manage their calluses without the risk of cutting themselves when they try to cut them off or going too deep and causing further damage as they attempt to use their fingernail clippers to “trim them up”. 

You see, you don't want to get rid of your calluses, you simply want to manage the thickness and the pliability of them. They are actually a wonderful thing that the body has given you to protect you from injury as you are doing this strenuous work. 

The way I have instructed my athletes to manage their calluses is by filing them down, knocking off the top layer so that they don’t get too thick and create ledges when the athlete grabs the bar. 

You Have To Moisturize

The second thing that I recommend is that they use some sort of topical moisture replenishment that will help to reintroduce some flexibility and pliability to the hands after having used what can only be described as copious amounts of chalk. SandBar recognizes this. Their salve is included with all of their products. This stuff is incredible and speeds up healing. You seriously see a difference in hours and it doesn’t sting at all. 

In the past I have recommended a number of things to accomplish this task but they all fell short. Either they didn’t last very long or they were difficult to use or they weren’t gym bag friendly (and you know once they leave the gym, everything you suggested is forgotten). Thats where SandBar comes in, this tool is so simple yet so effective that I've been recommending them to my clients for years now. 

SandBar is a cylindrical handheld device that fits easily into your hands and allows you to file down those calluses with something that has a natural curve to it, like a barbell or a pull up bar. Here is a quick video showing how I use it It can be cleaned under running water with the supplied brush, and comes with an all natural Salve that you apply after using to keep those calluses supple and ready to work. All of this comes in a gym bag friendly package that can travel with them too and from the gym or wherever they are working out that day. 

I’ve been using the SandBar regularly for years and with consistent use and the addition of grips when doing high volume rig work… I can’t remember the last time I had a callus rip. But when I forget… all I have to do is look at this picture and it reminds me to TAKE CARE OF MY HANDS. 

This was me at the CrossFit Games South East Regionals in 2011.  Nobody wants these hands during/after a workout.

Recovery isn’t just for the muscles, or the gut, or the mind… recovery is a whole body requirement.  ESPECIALLY when it is a part of our body that we rely on so much. Get into the habit of doing callus care and showing your clients how to do the same and you'll keep them making progress without the delay of waiting for a rip to heal. I hope this has shed some light on what I think is a pretty commonly overlooked part of our job as coaches. If we can be of any help reach out to or send a DM