Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre - Gymnastics Club - Enrolment - Photography by Paul K Robbins - 2014

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Blisters on the hands from bars – In Gymnastics terms we call it a rip.

At some point, your gymnast will develop a blister or an open blister (rip), from the friction of using the bars.

This is a normal part of gymnastics training, if a gymnasts develops a rip at training their coach will pull off or cut off the excess skin that’s visible, if the rip is small we will encourage the gymnast to continue training on bars and with a reduced bar program to limit the friction on the rip.
The reason for this is the pain of a small rip is minimal, if they were to rip during a competition they would usually keep going with their routine or finish the competition with the rip, if gymnasts are familiar with what to expect, there is less chance of a student pulling out of a skill and injuring themselves at a competition.

Everyone gets them from the beginner to the elite level Athlete. For the novice gymnast, rips normally occur because the gymnast's hands do not have any callous and/or the grip on the bar is too tight because of fear or lack of familiarity with the skill. Advanced gymnasts usually rip because they allow an excess of callous to develop on their hands. A rip is a separation of the upper layers of skin in the palm of the hand or around the wrists from the lower layers of blood rich tissue. An excessively tight grip or callous build-up allows the skin to bunch up as you are swinging around the bar. The force of the swing pulls the upper layer of skin away from the lower layers causing a pocket to form which may become a blister or fill with blood. Whichever occurs, you can be sure that a rip is imminent.

According to Bill Martin, an athletic trainer at Sports Physical Therapists, Inc. of Newtown, PA, prevention is the key. Martin believes that a rip can be as disabling as a big injury. He compares the gymnast's rip to a blister on the heel of a marathon runner - a disastrous situation that can ruin the race. For the novice gymnast, simple training in appropriate swing techniques and grip change will help alleviate several rips. For the more advanced gymnast, a daily regimen of hand care must be put into effect to minimize rips and keep bar workout times more effective.

  1. After every workout wash your hands with soap and water, and then rub hand lotion into the front and back of your hands and wrists.
  2. Prevent excess callous from building up by rubbing the affected areas with a pumice stone. To find the areas of excess callous, soak the hands in water for about ten minutes and you will be able to notice areas on the palm that retain a whitish colour while the rest of the skin stays pink. Use the pumice stone only as necessary. Excessive use will cause the hands to be constantly sore during workouts.
  3. Rub hand lotion into your hands at night before going to sleep and, if necessary, when you get up in the morning. Keep your hands moist! When You First Rip, Remove the excess skin. Then wash the injured area with soap and water. Do not put hand lotion on a fresh rip.

Gymnasts in higher levels
May get another form of a “rip” occurs around the gymnast’s wrists where a handguard or “grip” may continuously rub against the skin. Usually, a combination of tennis sweatbands for the wrist, gym tape and/or pre-wrap can be used to cover the area and prevent a rip. If a rip does occur on the wrist, get the first aid pads used for plantar warts that are usually oval in shape and have a hole in the centre. Position the pad over the rip so the hole is directly over the injured area, and then tape it in place and put sweat bands and grips on top. 

 

Gymnastics Club

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