Protecting your hands: Part 2 [Experiment results]

17 Jun

A little while back I wrote a short piece on using thin leather palm guards to protect your hands from the ravages of pull-ups and other bar-related shenanigans.

Perhaps in the world of professional sport, having rough, scratchy, callous-ey (?) hands is a good thing. However, in a world where you may want to touch/caress/stroke another human being, this is typically not the case. Ask my wife…

So I have being conducting a couple of experiments with my hands to see if I can find a happy medium between training hard, and still having hands that don’t double as medium grade sandpaper.

Experiment 1: Leather Palm Guards

Palm guards
Palm guards

Total success! No blisters or torn hands any more. Reduces the callous building effect, but does not totally eliminate it. Also doesn’t protect against callouses on fingers (only palms).

I tend to only wear them for pull-up bar work, as well. So far they seem amazing hard wearing as well. They tend to be pretty stuff when you first get hold of them, but they soften up nicely after a while.

See the post entitled “Protecting your hands from pull-ups [Palm guards]” for more details on how to get a pair.

Experiment 2: Callous shaving

Boots Corn and Callous Knife
Boots Corn and Callous Knife

Urgh. That sounds disgusting.

I have tried a number of methods of reducing the thick layers of skin on my hands with varying success. A file (not very effective), a scalpel (dangerous, not recommended), a Dremel-style multi-tool (bad ass, but not recommended), and even picking at them (disgusting, and definitely not recommended).

Most recently I picked up a Corn and Callous Knife from Boots the Chemist, for the princely sum of £3.99. It is actually nothing more sophisticated than a curved scalpel blade with a safety guard. And it is brilliant. It deals with all callouses in about 30 seconds, with next to no risk of cutting yourself, and leaves the surfaces lovely and smooth.

Experiment 3: Hand moisturising

Udderly Smooth Hand Udder Cream
Udderly Smooth Hand Udder Cream

Not the most manly of activities, to be sure.

Aside from the rough skin that hands build up from pull-up, kettlebell and barbell work, the chalk that we use really dries the skin out.

I have tried a few different moisturisers to see if I can find one that actually works. You know, one that actually moisturises your hands rather than just making them all greasy and slippery.

Neutrogena hand cream: Supposedly used by Norwegian fishermen. Unlikely. 4/10

Orba Gardener’s Hand Cream: Was persuaded to give it a go by pushy sales people at Greenwich Market. Not bad, but effect doesn’t last too long. Wife hates the smell for some reason. 6/10

Udderly Smooth Hand Cream: Unbelievably good, and so much better than anything else that I have tried so far. The best part? The formula is based on the cream used to moisturise cow udders (hence the name). Awesome? I think so. 10/10

Disclaimer: All of the above is based on my personal opinions and experiences. This does not (and should not) be considered an official endorsement or recommendation by CrossFit London. Your mileage may vary. I paid for all products with my own hard earned cash. CrossFit London is not affiliated with any of the businesses referenced above.

3 thoughts on “Protecting your hands: Part 2 [Experiment results]

  1. I can guess that the gents will think this far too girly, but the Body Shop (and other places too) sell hand conditioning gloves. You slather cream all over your hands and then put the gloves on. It feels truly disgusting but it’s really good. There are a couple of ingredients to check for (and avoid) in hand creams too – mineral oil, propylene glycol, cetyl alcohol and liquid paraffin are bad: they work really well in the short term but can be quite drying in the longer term. (Not sure how I’ve gotten to know so much about hand cream).

  2. Try the gloves from body shop but put the cream on the outside then rub your body vigorously! Not much use for callouses but feels lovely!!

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