April 01, 2008
Rips of the skin and calluses on the hands are an annoying and painful part of any physical exercise that uses the hands intensively. Anyone can get them, and there's no getting around that fact. You can get them from shoveling snow, playing baseball, throwing the javelin, climbing ropes, or swinging on bars. You can get them from doing just about anything involving the hands. Gymnasts have to deal with them all the time, as do weightlifters and, of course, people who do a high volume of kipping pull- ups.
Hand guards (grips)
There are several ways to prevent or at least minimize rips or tears on your hands. As a gymnastics coach, I encourage my athletes to wear hand guards or grips when they are training on the rings and high bar so they can train longer and harder without worrying whether their hands are going to tear. Gymnasts typically wear these leather hand grips (guards) when training and competing on the rings and the horizontal bar (high bar) or uneven bars. Grips for the rings have two finger holes (photos 1 and 2) and those for high bar have three (photos 3 and 4); all types have a strip of leather that protects the working side of the hands, and some have dowels in them to extend the fingers' reach and help the gymnast lock onto the bar or rings. You can order these grips online from most any gymnastics equipment and supply company. I personally use american-gymnast.com.