A new season of Spartan races is upon us. First-time racers and veteran Spartans alike are preparing to take on the course, are training hard, and are anticipating the challenges they'll face on race day. When I train my clients ahead of races, I hear the same questions repeatedly:
How do I train my grip for the obstacles?
How do I protect my hands from rips and tears?
Related: How to Train for an Obstacle Course Race
A ripped hand is one of the most painful and detrimental occurrences that can pop up on race day. It can singlehandedly (no pun intended) lead to a race full of burpees. But these types of injuries CAN be prevented!
Preventing Hand Ripping Before (and During) the Race
Ripped hands are a result of a lack of confidence in your shoulder mobility, which causes over-gripping on a swinging obstacle. Mix that with wet, sweaty, and/or hot skin, and your hands are gripping for dear life, just trying to stay on.
When you grip a bar or an obstacle too tight, your skin is no longer malleable enough to adapt to the swinging motion. Instead, your hands are trying to stay in place while gravity and torque pull you across an obstacle, resulting in a decrease of surface area within your hands. The hands tear to increase the available surface area, which happens by tearing off calluses and shredding the skin across your palms.
So how do you prevent your hands from tearing? You train to increase your shoulder mobility and grip-strength stability.
These few exercises will help you do exactly that. You will be focusing on building a mobile 360-degree shoulder, and you will be gaining strength and stability to train your body how to hold its own weight. This is different from building basic grip strength, because it will teach you how to CONTROL your bodyweight through your grip, instead of resisting movement from your grip.
Keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to rip prevention. There are ample ways to treat and care for your hands before the race, and in the event that your skin does rip. Leading up to (and during) the race, many racers choose to wear gloves for a line of protection against a rip's first occurrence. With more training and consistent preventative measures, you can potentially avoid a major disaster on race day.