Every CrossFitter knows that fostering good form and technique is the key to protecting your body from injury. If tearing up your skin or damaging your joints and muscles is not on your to-do list, it’s time to look into some protective gear. I’ve assembled a list of the most crucial goodies to keep in your gym bag.
Gloves will protect your hands by reducing friction on pull-up bars and barbells. I like Talons. The thin, synthetic palm allows a natural grip on barbells and rings with built-in protection in all the right places for lifts and muscle-ups. The palms are designed to consume chalk, and they work like having a second skin. Talons are thin enough to allow hook gripping a barbell, and they aren’t too bulky for standard gymnastics rings, either. They’re even touch-screen compatible so you can set timers on your phone and rip selfies!
This tape is pre-cut and sized for wrapping thumbs and fingers. RockTape HookGrip is amazing for training deadlifts, snatches and cleans because the tape gives extra padding and protection to your thumbs when hook-gripping the barbell as well as added traction. It takes chalk really well, and HookGrip tape is nice and flexible, so you’re still able to bend your thumbs like a human. HookGrip tape is way more comfortable than traditional sports tape, and it sticks better during long and hard barbell workouts, too. Pre-cut sizing means you can throw a roll of HookGrip tape in your bag and not have to fiddle with scissors, either!
Knee support is essential for any WOD that has lots of squatting or lunging movements. In other words, you pretty much need them every day, every WOD! I use KneeCaps designed by CrossFit Games champion Jason Khalipa. They provide comfortable compression around the knee for greater stability and also keep your joints warm — key for preventing joint damage. Some powerlifters use KneeCaps for elbow support, as well! You can wear knee sleeves during Olympic-lifting sessions, for squats and their infinite CrossFit variations, pistols, and whenever you need a bit of extra padding in the knees for movements like split jumps. With two thicknesses and five sizes, KneeCaps are designed for every athlete with various levels of support for normal use or extra thick for powerlifting and strongman sessions.
Deadlifting, cleans and snatches are all easier when you have good technique and barbell mechanics, but it’s easier to have good mechanics when you’re not running a cheese grater up your shins! Catch a box jump wrong just once and RockGuards Shin Protection will be your best friend for life. These shinguards feature 5mm of neoprene on the shin side and lightweight, stretchy, breathable material everywhere else for comfort and to avoid overheating. These bad boys will also protect your legs during rope climbs and are just perfect for barbell sessions when it’s imperative to keep that bar running as close to your body as possible.
Wrist wraps are essential for WODs that have Olympic lifts, overhead presses of any type (military, push and jerks) and kettlebell overhead work. Your wrists take a beating during handstand push-ups, wall walks and hand walking, too. I love the wrist wraps you hook and loop around your wrists instead of your thumb. Khalipa designed RockWrist to provide customizable support as high or low and as loose or tight as you’d like on your wrists. They secure really fast, without all the fiddling around of traditional cotton wraps. The fabric has 10 percent stretch built in, so you get the support you need with an added bit of comfort and flexibility, which is great for barbell work like snatches and cleans.
Do you ever have days when you think you can’t possibly do another squat or pull-up? To quickly alleviate overexerted muscles for hours, I use RockSauce by RockTape. If you’ve used Biofreeze, Bengay or Icy Hot, you know how great these pain relievers can be. RockSauce is no joke — it’s strong (wash your hands immediately after applying, long-lasting, and both hot and cold. If you prefer the cold stuff, try RockSauce Chill. You can store it in your gym bag.
When you’re done with your WOD and your hands look like you’ve been playing tug of war with barbed wire or like you solely walk on your hands, it’s time to give your calluses a little TLC. RockRub emollient is made from all-natural ingredients, including vitamin E, vegetable oil and beeswax, and is designed to treat scar tissue and calluses. Add this to your post-gym routine and never scratch another person that tries to shake your hand again.