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Get a Grip, Don’t Rip

To shred or not to shred your palms. That is the question.

I sat in the ESPN truck at the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games and watched the monitors as they scanned the athletes’ hands for blood. It wasn’t a difficult task to find a pair of crimson-colored palms. I glanced at the screen and shook my head as my co-worker covered her eyes. The images looked like a group of fit people who had used their hands to protect themselves from some sort of zombie attack.


But this was no attack from a horde of the undead. It was the aftermath of a weekend of wear and tear on pull-up bars and rope climbs at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Tears are nothing new to CrossFit or its sanctioned competitions. As I watched the “hamburger palm” images, I wondered: Why would these amazing athletes let their hands get shredded like that?

In this day and age of CrossFit companies and products, why wouldn’t anyone use the gear to protect their hands? There are all manner of grips available. I have reviewed several types on my site One of the main Games sponsors, Rogue, makes a few different types of grips, which I assume would have been allowed to use during events like “Murph.”

It comes down to two possible conclusions. One, bravado. Those athletes are just too cool to take the time to throw on some hand protection. Is it not the “cool guy” thing to do to protect your hands? I can’t believe that the best option for a great show is to tear our hands, then spend the rest of the Games trying to tape and glue our palms back together. You need those palms as unscathed and intact as possible to complete all the lifts and movements, so why not protect them if you have the choice?

Which leads me to my second conclusion. Maybe they didn’t have a choice. I know there have been some issues with what gear is and isn’t allowed (mostly shoe related), but I know that in the CrossFit Games rulebook and rules videos for the Open and Regionals, grips can be used while competing. I’d have to go through the footage of the Games to refresh my memory, but I think I remember some of the athletes wearing grips or hand protection (especially on rope climbs). Which leads me to believe that the ones who didn’t use them, consciously made the choice not to.

Possibly this is a matter of comfort. They might not have been used to training with grips or gloves, or they may not have thought that wearing them would allow them to have the grip on the bar or rope they need to complete the movement at such a high level.

My point is that with as many products as exist in CrossFit training, tearing your hands really shouldn’t be happening if you use the right gear and have some sense. This goes for any athlete on a regular day of training at his or her local affiliate or even competing in a local fitness competition.

Are hand tears a problem in your training? Do you take measures to protect your palms against rips and tears?

Stay on the Grind.