Preventing Hand Tears

It is normal for those new to ninja warrior obstacles to tear the skin on their hands. That is why our first step is to explain why calluses are crucially important. Not having calluses or having calluses which are too thick, can lead to the same problem – tears. Hand tears can be painful and temporarily slow down the training.

If you are new to obstacle training, your calluses are most likely lacking. It may take up to three months for your skin to fully acclimate to the new demand. The first three months of training should be taken slowly. The key is to limit training time and weekly frequency until your hands are fully adjusted. Your skin needs time to build up those awesome calluses. We recommend training 1-2 times per week for roughly three months before increasing weekly frequency.

Some hand discomfort, such as general palm tenderness, is to be expected when engaging in grip training. The discomfort will decrease with time and conditioning. Focus on your goals and don’t let temporary hand pain dictate your success. Any new sport requires adaptation.

If you have established or really rough calluses, it’s now time to control their thickness and texture. If you don’t, you will likely tear much deeper than if you had none! If your calluses are too thick, the skin creates a substantially hard mound. In a hanging position, that mound becomes trapped, and when the hand stretches enough from an active motion, the weaker surrounding skin tears. You can identify your palm callus “mound” size by hanging on a bar statically for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. After hanging, the callus mound will become peaked. This is an optimal tool time!


A recommended practice for those with or without substantial calluses is to use hand salve/balm soon after a training session is complete and on rest days. Hydrated skin will repair quicker and stronger. We sell high-quality SandBar Salve made just for this purpose. Follow the instructions on the container.

Anyone can train hard and it is tempting to ignore signs of skin fatigue. However, elite ninja warriors know how to consistently prevent tears and therefore effectively train harder and more frequently. Prevention is the ninja warrior method.

What happens if you do tear? The first thing you should do is stop. Don’t continue to damage the skin and spread blood on equipment. It is tempting to push on while bleeding, but you should discontinue grip training until you have recovered (2-3 days depending on the depth of the tear). When you are home and the bleeding has stopped, you should trim the excess skin ledges/flaps. This will prevent future tears by creating seamless and smooth skin. You can use a sanitized cuticle clipper or surgical scissors. Do not pull the skin! It can worsen the rip. The key to a speedy recovery is moisture. Use triple-antibiotic cream in addition to SandBar Salve. Use moisturizing agents and cover the rip with a bandage before you go to bed.

Obstacles/movements most likely to cause a tear:

  • Lache bars
  • Monkey bars & rings
  • Obstacles that require a full grip with a swinging motion
  • Olympic weightlifting and kipping pull-up

Another factor that plays a part in increasing the chances of tearing is high humidity, or sweaty hands. This is why using hand chalk somewhat reduces your chances of tearing while benefiting you with increased grip friction. We offer liquid hand chalk onsite, but any liquid chalk is allowed in our facility. Liquid chalk lasts much longer than does powder chalk. It is also an antibiotic due to the rubbing alcohol (carrier agent that evaporates).

NOTE: You will get to a point in your obstacle training when you can start to feel the early signs of a tear and PREVENT it from happening. This is a learned skill through experience!

We hope you liked this short post! 

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