If you do a lot of deadlifts or other high-grip exercises like pull-ups, you’ve likely developed some calluses on your hands. And if you don’t take care of these calluses, sooner or later one of them will tear apart. Fortunately, you don’t have to stop lifting while waiting for it to heal.
Why do calluses tear?
A callus is a thickening of the skin that occurs in response to pressure. While a callus is somewhat protective, the crusty layers of skin that can build up on a callus can cause more problems if you keep them close than if you don’t. As a surgeon explained in our article on callusesIf there is too much crusted, dead skin, a callus remains susceptible to cracks, tears or further irritation (e.g. with all repetitions).
To prevent this, Take care of your calluses before they reach this stage Use a file or pumice stone or even a callus razor as needed (as long as you are careful not to cut into living skin). You can do this maintenance in the bathroom or after you shower. or you can do it after your workout when your skin is dry and covered in chalk. Either method will work, although you may prefer different tools for each scenario.
How to protect a torn callus
First, clean the area and carefully cut away any dead skin. You can apply a bandage or tape if it’s on an area of your hand where you think the bandage will stop. However, this is often not possible.
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Anecdotally, gymnasts and climbers often protect their torn hands by applying a balm that keeps the raw skin moist. There are different brands like Joshua Tree healing ointment or Ript Quick Fix. Something like petroleum jelly would probably work just as well.
But that’s just skin care. What do you do when you show up at the gym and have a callus on the top of your palm that you can’t tape and it hurts even to pick up a barbell? Then it’s time to hold onto a tape.
How to Make the Best Tape Handle
You will use sports tape – the kind of fabric you can find in any drug store – but you won’t stick it to your skin.
Instead, make a handle that goes around your finger and attaches to your wrist. This video from Fight or Flight Academy is an excellent tutorial. The steps are:
- Cut a long piece of duct tape and fold it in half lengthways, sticky sides.
- Use your scissors to make a plus sign cut about an inch from the folded end. This will become a hole for you to stick your finger through.
- Put the length of folded tape on the palm of your hand and anchor it to your wrist by wrapping more tape around your wrist. The only tape that will stick to your skin is the material on your wrist.
The resulting tape handle is loose enough for your hand to flex and bend as needed. However, it prevents your delicate callus from coming into contact with the deadlift bar (or chin-up bar or kettlebell). Give it a try next time you have a torn hand – then invest in some callus dropping tools so it doesn’t happen again.