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Kettlebell Hand & Skin Injuries

Here are explanations for my own hand injuries overviewed on my Hand Care Tools & Tips section.  There are some simple tricks you can learn here to prevent these hand injuries.  Note that injured hands are not only painful--but less safe for two reasons.  First, you'll compensate if your hands are torn up which could lead to an injury.  Second, open wounds on hands are portals of entry for bacteria like MRSA.  Take care of your hands so you have less pain and more safety!

Hand Injury-1

Bad Hand Example:  This is what my hands generally looked like the first couple of months of KB training.  I had NO hand grooming plan whatsoever!  I thought having heavy calluses with peeling edges was "manly," but it was actually just stupid!  Note that calluses too built up or "tall" will roll over then tear with ballistics like the KB snatch--NOT good!

Hand Injury-2

Injury #1:  This has been my worst hand injury.  One of my KBs had an imperfection under the handle that left a raised portion with a sharp edge.  While doing a little KB training with a bad handle is not that big of a deal, doing serious training with a bad handle on top of poorly conditioned hands IS a big deal!  (My handle was promptly FILED smooth after this injury!)  I was 4:00 into a 5:00 snatch test with my 16kg when I felt "something in my hand."  I kept going thinking it must be some grass or something (stupid!) because I wanted my 5:00 PR.  I got the PR, but lost a large chunk of my palm because what I felt was not grass--it was "many" layers of skin rolling up as the handle gouged my hand.  I equate this injury to having a small 3rd degree burn.  It hurt like hell!  The pain was so intense that it prevented me from sleeping properly for two full nights.  It completely jacked my training for the next week and took two full weeks to get fully healed.  Trust me--DO NOT do this!  While tearing my hand open was an obvious stupid mistake, I made yet another one right after it happened.  When I saw what I had done, I got mad and just "tore off" the rolled up skin that was hanging there so I could keep on training.  This made my healing take MUCH longer!  I've had a couple of other incidents, but I left the remaining skin on being careful to clean the surfaces underneath, and the injury healed twice as fast!  If you do tear your hand open, I'd recommend leaving the extra skin on as a natural covering until the raw skin underneath toughens up a bit more...usually a couple of days or so.

Hand Injury-3

Injury #2: This one was not nearly as bad as the palm injury above because I stopped before it tore too deeply.  I also left the extra skin on as a natural band aid which GREATLY speeded my healing process.  The sad thing is that if I had been grooming my hands properly, I would not have had this injury in the first place.  It was MY fault!  Post Injury--What I didn't know then that I know now is to use the pumice stone to buff off all that extra hanging skin under the blister flap once the flap is removed.  Remember that any of these "hanging edges" can end up lifting the skin and tearing into "fresh" tissue.  You don't want edges like this.  Keep everything smoothed out i.e. groom your hands Comrades!

Hand Injury-4

Injury #3:  By this point I'm starting to figure it out!  Five days prior to this photo, I had a blister develop during 24kg snatch sets.  I had been careful during my following KB workouts to not tear open the soft spot--even used gloves a couple of times.  It finally tore open five days after the original strain, but because I had kept the blister intact for days, by the time the blister tore open the skin underneath wasn't sensitive or raw at all.  I cleaned the area well, left the skin flap in place, then trimmed off the loose skin the next morning.  While the skin under the blister was still not as thick, it was fine and gave me no pain.  This was a quick heal because I managed it much better than previous hand injuries.  Prevention altogether?  I should have used some gloves when my hands started to strain the week before.  I had been out of town the week prior to the blister incident--I lost some hand conditioning in that week.  While my hands "were" up to repeated 24kg snatch sets of 10-20 a couple of weeks before, they were not on this particular day of the blister formation.  Learning Point?  Missing a full week of KBs can really change the conditioning of your hands--at least for me during my first year of KB training.  Maybe this is not such a big deal after 2-3 years of KBs...not sure at this point of my journey which has me about six full months into serious KB training.

Hand Injury-5

Good Hand Example:  Finally!  After six months of KBs and hand issues, I'm starting to figure it out!  This is my hand properly groomed.  I train with the KBs about 4-5 days a week right now if I'm on target.  You don't have to go through my pain Comrades!  Groom your hands so you can avoid injury...there will be plenty of other opportunities in your KB training to actually "Enjoy the Pain" be patient and give your hands the break!

Move Better! Perform my Dynamic Warm-Up exercises at “beginning” of workout
for maximum benefit and improvement.
Pick a safe level; never be unsafe or exceed your capacity to “control” your body!

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(Updated 11.29.08)

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