Parkour is a sport that uses every part of the body, but especially the hands. You use your hands to grab objects, support your body, and break your falls. If you are like most people, it isn't going to take long for you to develop calluses.
Most traceurs who are new to the game think this is actually a good thing. You might think that calluses on your hands mean that they are getting stronger. While this is true in part, it's not as positive as you think.
Although calluses are strong, the skin around them is still soft. This makes it easier for the calluses to be ripped off when they contact harder material.
Ripped calluses mean gashes on your hands. Gashes on your hands mean limited and painful training. This is especially true if you like to train bars. Ripped hands are one of the most painful and annoying injuries in the game. Everyone has to deal with them at some point. The faster you learn to protect your hands the better.
This article will show you some of the best ways to protect your hands, and we’ll give you options to remove the calluses and protect your hands in other ways.
Follow this advice and your hands will never hold you back.
Why Does This Happen?
You get calluses on your hands because your skin is taking punishment. Whether you are lifting weights or training bars, you will get them eventually.
Any time you train Parkour, your hands are going to deal with friction on a regular basis. Calluses help to remedy this a little. However, if calluses get too big they become a hindrance. When too big, calluses can break and tear. It’s extremely painful and can stop you in your tracks.
The key is to find a good middle ground. You want your hands to have small, even calluses, not giant ones.
If you are fresh to the game, the first thing you need to do is work your hands more. You need to build some calluses for us to work with.
Once you have some calluses on your hands, you are ready to start taking care of them.
Use Gloves at the Start
This helps in the beginning. When you are starting Parkour, there will be times when your hands can't take any more. You will know this because your hands will start to get sore. They will start to feel raw. They might get red as well.
This is a sign that you might be about to get a gash.
When this happens, it is a good idea to throw some gloves on. Weightlifting gloves work well. You can also use a pair of football gloves if you have some around.
A lot of people think this is something noobs do. You shouldn’t care about that. Wearing gloves all the time is a bad idea, but wearing them to help your hands recover is just plain smart. It is better to work without them, but saving your hands is the top priority. Whatever you use, they should be made to absorb punishment. Try to use fingerless gloves if possible.
You can also use athletic tape for this, but gloves work better.
Shave Your Calluses Down
Once you have some calluses on your hands, the next step is to shave them down. Using something like sandpaper to shave down your calluses can help a lot. If you use a high-grain sand paper this process will actually make your hands softer, which is what we want.
Don't go nuts. Don't use an electric sander. Just paper. This process will not hurt because callus skin is already dead. You are just removing the bits that could cause you problems down the line.
You don't need to do this excessively. Just get a small piece of sandpaper and lightly sand your hands until they are soft. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
Use a Foot Scraper
Some of you might know about these, others not. Women often use foot scrapers to get rid of dead skin on their feet. While these are often used for pedicures, they will work for us too. These tools also go by the name “foot file.”
If you think this is silly, check you ego. A foot file will work even better than sandpaper. It will make your hands smooth and ready for work.
If you have no idea what a foot scraper is, here is what one looks like.
You can find these at any big department store, but you probably already have one in your home. Don't be afraid to use it. Remember, check your ego. Parkour is about becoming the best you can be.
Use Chalk (or Liquid Chalk)
Powerlifters and gymnasts swear by chalk to protect their hands. Just watch any Olympic competition with these athletes. They will chalk their hands before every performance.
Chalk might be the ultimate secret weapon for preventing friction. But there are some things to remember. First, make sure your hands are dry. If your hands are wet the chalk will clump up and become useless. Second, don't apply too much chalk. This will make your hands too slippery and defeat the purpose.
The key here is balance. Get some loose chalk from a department or sports store and test it out. Find an amount that works for you, and use it when working rails and bars. The results are amazing.
If you’re training in a gym that doesn’t allow chalk, there’s a dust-free version you can find called Liquid Chalk that will serve a similar purpose.
Use Hand Lotion
Again, check your ego. Hand lotion will help moisturize your skin. Healthy skin will deal better with punishment than dry skin. Even if you have the proper amount of calluses on your skin, you should still be doing this.
You don't need to buy anything fancy, just some cheap moisturizer will do. Apply it once a day.
Put Knowledge Into Practice
Hand gashes suck. They stop your training and hurt like hell. Protecting your hands is one of the most important things you can do in Parkour.
It takes time and practice to build the proper amount of hand strength. But it is well worth the time. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to indestructible hands and longer training sessions.
Breathe Parkour is Canada's leading parkour facility with 3 locations spanning all of Southern Alberta.