I’ve had a lot of emails recently about kettlebell calluses, torn up hands and how to protect your hands when kettlebell training.
Here’s my quick 6 step guide to looking after your hands and preventing painful kettlebell hand injuries…
1 Check Your Technique
Kettlebell Swings, Cleans and Snatches tend to be the biggest cause of kettlebell hand injuries.
All three of these kettlebell exercises can roll the skin, so here’s what to do…
- Swing – try to prevent excess handle rotation in the palm during the swinging movement.
- Snatch – move the kettlebell handle from the palm to the fingers avoiding rolling in the upper palm.
- Clean – as with the Snatch move the kettlebell handle from the fingers to palm and back again
I have lots more information on the correct technique of these 3 kettlebell exercises here:
2 Is It Too Much Too Soon?
Building up tougher skin takes time. If you perform 100’s of Swings and Snatches in a short space of time then you are asking for trouble.
Build up your hand condition slowly by increasing your reps gradually over time
Training in this way is also much better for your body so you should take torn up hands as an indication that you may be overdoing things.
3 Kettlebell Hand Care
If you suffer from some of the common kettlebell hand problems then here’s what to do:
- Dry or cracked hands – apply some natural coconut oil every evening before bed. Coconut Oil is also an excellent make up remover as well as an amazingly healthy cooking oil….makes amazing roast potatoes too!
- Calluses – use a pumice stone after soaking your hands in warm water for a few minutes or after a hot shower. Use the pumice stone to remove all the high points and especially the sharp edges. Don’t remove the callus completely or you will have no natural protection for future workouts.
- Using Chalk – will dry out your hands and create excessive friction that can intensify hand problems. I don’t recommend chalk but if you want to try it only use a small amount.
4 Kettlebell Gloves and Hand Protection
I don’t generally recommend covering the hands because it reduces the neurological feedback and also encourages excessive grip, tiring out the arms quicker.
However, for high reps and when it cannot be avoided I recommend the following…
- Smooth Cotton Gloves – purchase a pair with a tight fit and remove the finger tips to allow better movement. All other gloves cause more problems than wearing any at all.
- Taping – tape long strips from the palm down and between the fingers. Band Aids, Plasters, Short Strips of taping will just peel and roll off, often leaving sticky glue on your kettlebell handle.
- Tube Socks – I’ve not tried this but many people advocate using a new tight tube sock cut off creating protection for the entire palm. I could see this being OK for Swings but I’m not sure about Snatches and Cleans.
If possible I would try and avoid wearing any type of protection on the hands but if it is really necessary then I would use the taping option.
5 Look After Your Kettlebell Handle
There are lots of cheap and poorly made kettlebells on the market.
Another cause of hand injury can be the quality of your kettlebell handle.
Take some abrasive paper or emery cloth and smooth out your handle so it has no lumps, bumps and small nicks in it.
6 How to Fix Kettlebell Blisters
Don’t remove current skin flaps and blisters. Reseal them and place some antiseptic cream on them to prevent infection.
Cover if necessary.
Don’t perform any more of the exercises that you think were the cause of your injury until they have healed. Focus on more static kettlebell exercises like: Turkish Get Ups, Presses, Windmills, and all Leg Exercises instead.
Conclusion to Kettlebell Hand Injuries
If you exercise with kettlebells frequently then you are, at some point, going to experience some kind of hand injury.
Take care to ensure that you technique is spot on to prevent hand problems.
Ensure that you are not overdoing your kettlebell training and that you are addressing any hand issues that you may have.
If you feel you need to use some kind of hand protection then I recommend that you use taping but only temporarily.
Enjoy your kettlebell training.
What Next? Take a look at these 3 articles to ensure you have got your kettlebell technique right:
To see even more posts about prehab and rehab advice, go here.