Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Callous care the cheap & easy way

If you lift heavy, or lift long, you'll end up with callouses on your hands. There aren't many good ways to avoid this - chalk helps your grip but doesn't prevent them. Full gloves prevent them but make it harder to lift heavy and trade soft hands for a sure grip on the bar - so you don't want to risk going heavy. Half gloves will stop only some of the callouses.

Once you have them, though, you gain a lot of benefits for lifting. Nice rough and hard spots on the hands to help your grip, not so much tearing of the hands doing heavy work either. But you also get potentially rough and unpleasant spots on your hands.

My own callouses are pretty nasty - I have ridge-like callous on my fingers just below each joint, and a row of callouses across the top of my palm. They dry up and shred pretty easily, and then those shredded pieces hang on. To me, it's fine, but if I touch someone else my hands feel prickly, sharp, and very rough. Not good!

There are a lot of ways to deal with callous. I've tried a number of them:

- moisturizer
- pumice stone in the shower
- cutting (with a specialized cutting tool)
- sanding

My favorite method is also cheap and easy - and I think it's the most effect. What I do is get an emery board and file down the ridges with the rough side for a few passes, and then with the fine-grained side until they are smooth. Not "gone" but just smooth to the touch. The callous will remain, but they won't feel harsh at all. In fact, they may feel a bit smoother to the light touch than the rest of your hand.

This has some upsides:

- immediate effect. Unlike moisturizers, you don't need to wait for the callous to slowly soften. You can keep a board in the car, in your gym bag, etc. and just file them quickly when you need them gone. I keep one handy and file my hands (and nails!) just before I go out with my significant other.

- no long-term effect. You'll lose the callous when you need to lose them, but the core of the callous is still there so it'll still be there when you lift.

- cheap. Seriously, spend the $2 on a pack of boards and you will have enough boards for months.

- timely. You don't need to do this after a shower, before a workout, during a workout (I've seen that recommended for the ridge-like callouses), or even every day. You can do it as-needed.

Give it a try and let me know how it works!

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