Rips are chunks of skin that peel off the gymnast’s hands caused by
friction from swinging on the bars. Every gymnast gets rips. The best way reduce the frequency of rips is to take good care
of your hands. Rips usually occur to soft skin. This is why many gymnasts rip more in the summer when they take breaks from
gymnastics for vacation or swimming a lot, creating soft skin.
A callus is your skin’s natural defense against ripping. So, the more
you use the bars, the more calluses you will build, and your hands will get tougher and rip less often. However, if a callus
builds up in the shape of a bump, it will also rip away when swinging on the bars. Keep your calluses, but maintain them with
an emery board or pumice stone to keep them from building up too big.
When a rip occurs, cut away the torn skin with a clean pair of scissors or
clippers. Manicure, or nail, scissors work great. Wash out the skin with soap and warm water (even though washing stings, you must clean the chalk from your
torn skin to reduce the possibility of infection). Many gymnasts find that repeatedly applying Chap Stick (non-medicated)
to fresh rips helps with the sting.
As gymnasts become more involved in their sport, they start to need a few
supplies. The following items are commonly needed in a grip bag or daily practice bag:
own pair of small Nail Scissors or Nail Clippers for cutting the skin on your hands when it rips. Try not to share for sanitary reasons, use your own!
Tape: Tape can be purchased at any athletic supply store (like Sports Authority or even CVS). It is cloth, about 1 ½”
wide, and usually white or sometimes colored. Do not buy medical tape (it doesn’t
stick very well, and is not flexible). You will definitely need tape at some point.
ü A pumice
stone, emery board, or callus remover
stick non-medicated (for rips)
ü If you wear grips, you also should wear wristbands. Get the soft, cloth kind for tennis. Neoprene wristbands are
difficult to put on and take off, plus they don’t wash as well as the terry wristbands. After you wear your wristbands
a few times, they begin to smell bad, so please wash them and always have an extra pair.
This holds all your stuff! It’s good to have some kind of small grip
bag. You can order them from any gym supply (or use any small bag that zips closed).