Friction of hands on the bars
There is a belief that rubbing chalk dust on the hands and feet will prevent friction blisters. But this is a misconception. Chalk actually increases friction, and the result is blisters. Consider using hand guards for protection. There are a lot of hand guards available in the market made from various materials: soft doe-skin for women, and heavy tanned leather ones for men. Liquid products like Nu-Skin which solidify to form a protective covering are also practical to use.
Wearing soft gloves can be a problem as the material stretches and becomes loose. On the other hand, hard gloves make it difficult to obtain enough dexterity to adequately grip a bar. A lot of international world class gymnasts eschew the use of grips. But if your child won’t have anything else, get him some dowel type grips that fit over the finger tip, while the dowel works to give your child a better grip.
a.) How to tape rips or tears in the skin of the hands. Sometimes, you will need to tape your child’s hands with cloth athletic tape when she cannot use her hands to grip:
- Any rips on the skin that are not all the way off need to be removed. Have your child remove it himself by tearing it to one side, careful not to make the rip any larger. Your child may not want to do this himself, so enlist the coach’s assistance to cut it off with a pair of sterilized scissors.
- If the rip is not taken off, this flap of loose skin will harden and sting every time it presses against raw skin underneath the cut.
- Tear off a piece of athletic tape slightly
more than twice the size of the palm (view below)
1. Ask someone to hold the tape down while putting it on to prevent bumps from appearing on the tape’s surface.
2. Don’t get rid of the grip straight away. It can be recycled for many uses.
b.) Blisters – what to do about them. Rips, also known as ripped blisters, are a particular bane in the life of a gymnast. Some young athletes rip their skin raw several times a week. Some people acquire blisters more easily than others. Others swing over bars a dozen times each day without using grips and yet rarely get a rip. Gymnasts prone to rips have tried every remedy to prevent them, from practically mummifying their hands, to sanding their palms with a pumice stone, and yet they still get rips. What can you do if you child gets a rip?
You will get a lot of suggestions and possible cures from a lot of people. Some of these suggestions may prove useful, others are just a lot of fluff, and may even work against the body’s healing process. One thing you have to watch out for, though, is infection. Exposing raw skin ups the chances of starting a bacterial infection.
As soon as your child gets a rip, make sure she knows to wash it thoroughly with soap and water. If the rip is deep and there is some bleeding, tell her to wash it anyway. Washing will get rid of any dirt and germs at the surface of the rip. It will sting! But it’s preferable to bear the sting than to have to bear the consequences of an infection later. If your child needs to continue with practice, have her dry the rip, apply a bandage, and wrap everything with sports tape to protect the area.
Tip: The tape may roll and bunch around in her hand during practice, so instruct her to wrap the tape around her hand vertically. Have her start from her wrist, going up to the base of her finger to cover the rip, wrapping it around the back of her finger, then back again to her wrist, and over the rip. Repeat once or twice until she’s confident the improvised cover won’t come off. As soon as she gets home, and unless her coaches have already given her medication for the rip, there are some remedies you can administer to help it heal. The most practical would be to put an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin on the injured area and keep it covered in bandages for 3 – 7 days until it heals. You may want to try applying a healing lotion. Lotions may probably cause the rip to heal slower than the usual rate, so unless your child needs the rip healed immediately, these lotions would prove unnecessary. Still, leave it up to your child to decide. It is her flesh, after all.
It’s advisable to monitor the state of the rip everyday. Always watch out for signs of an infection: redness, swelling, and the presence of pus. If you see any of these manifestations, take your child to the doctor for treatment. You and your child should be aware that wearing a grip does not prevent rips. All gymnasts go to great lengths to prevent the occurrence of rips, but friction does not dissipate even with the use of grips. Instead of having friction between the hand and the bars, you get friction between the hand and the grip. So your child will still get a rip or two.
Rips are inevitable, and are part of the everyday life
of gymnastics. Your child should condition herself to
expect them and deal with them the best way she could.