The health and well-being of our hands as athletes should be on the top of your list! It is so important that it is even worth getting a manicure for fellas! We all see these pictures of torn calluses and bloody hands as some badge of achievement, but all I see is an athlete who won’t be training in any functional way anytime shortly. A torn callus is rather debilitating and will stop you from deadlifting, swinging a kettlebell, pressing of any kind or even give you a hard time eating food and wiping your ass!
Now, we all love to have those thick calluses on our hands to show that we are lifters and put in miles and miles of work on your hands and bodies but get over the ego here. Healthy hands are callus-free hands. For those that are unaware of what a callus is, let’s take a moment to talk about what it is…DEAD SKIN. A callus is a formation of dead skin your body makes to defend against the constant abuse we put on our hands. Now the problem with callus is the fact the healthy living tissue usually surrounds them. This leaves a nice weak point for the skin to get painful or likely tear causing a nice pool of blood and a nasty wound!
Okay, so we have left our egos at the door and are ready and willing to do the things we need to to make sure our hands stay healthy… Great, I am glad to hear it, and I congratulate you on your first step to longevity in whatever it is you do as a strength athlete!
Removing The Callus With Self Manicure
Soak your hands
In a sink or a large container place hot water (hot enough to tolerate, don’t be dumb and burn yourself) Soak your hands for 10-15 minutes till your calluses are raised up.
Shave or remove calluses
There are a few ways to do this; I prefer to use a corn plane to being the calluses down to flush with the rest of your skin. Of course be careful with using these and do not over shave the calluses.
File down whatever calluses you cannot reach with the planer again do not overdo it.
This is not a necessary step, but I recommend it because it gets rid of the rough patches that come from using the file.
Okay now that you have rid of those calluses. You need to do a couple of things to both maintain your hand’s health and well as protect them from
Prevent And Maintain
Okay, now that you have got the unwanted callus off your hands we need to focus on maintaining the health of the skin as well as preventing and protecting the hands in the future.
Hand Salves And Moisturizers
The use of hand salves and moisturizers is a good way to heal your hands after hard training. It also keeps them subtle enough to help stave off the formation of painful calluses. There are plenty of products on the shelves nowadays, but I recommend using anything that is completely natural like Burt’s Bees Hand Salve. It runs for about 10 dollars for a tin but will last you a very long time. Only needing a dime size bit to get the job done. The best way to use these products is before sleep to help long-term absorption overnight.
Dit Da Jow
Now you may be thinking what the hell is Dit Da Jow. Well, it is a particular formulation of herbs in a solution that has had years to blend. It is used in Kung Fu training and is particularly used in what they call Iron Palm Training. This style if training is used to strengthen the palm as well as the entire hand. The Jow is used to help increase blood flow to the hand and helps build thicker stronger skin as well as increases in bone, tendon and ligament strength.
There are plenty of vendors online that make premade. They also offer herb packs to make your own Jow. I have used this for both iron palm as well as when I’m doing big deadlift sets. It is mainly while I am doing kettlebell training. If you decide to go ahead with using a Dit Da Jow, then you should apply it both pre-training and post-training liberally until it is fully absorbed. (Caution, however, do not use on hands that have any open sores as some of the herbs are toxic internally.)
How often should you manicure your hands? As often as you need to is the best answer I can give you. If you’re training hard like I am assuming you are then taking care of your hands is a daily ordeal. That being said I do not recommend doing the removal process daily. I would leave that to once a week to once every two weeks. Applying the Dit Da Jow and salves should be a daily or multi times per day occurrence.
Remember when training to keep the ego at the door, keep your hands safe and keep training hard!