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RKC Debriefing: Hand Care

Steve W.

New member
The concentrated volume at the RKC certification weekend is obviously very hard on the hands, and there has been a lot of discussion about it here on the forum. At the cert, I saw a great variety of taping methods and hand protection devices, but nearly everyone had severely torn up hands.

Thankfully my hands made it through almost unscathed. On the first day, I got a small tear on the middle segment of my pinky finger because I had chalk on my hands from the snatch test, and when I taped up afterward the tape didn't adhere properly. Plus I got minor nicks on the inside and outside of each pinky from doing two hand swings with pinkies in and pinkies out grips (almost everyone I talked to got these nicks).

I mainly attribute the lack of damage to my hands to hooking the KB in my fingers as much as possible, and being able to pop the handle from the fingers to the palm on cleans and snatches without grinding it against the ball of my hand.

Before the cert, I experimented with different ways of protecting my hands to find something that worked for me. I recommend doing this at home during things like VO2max and practice snatch tests to see what works and doesn't work for you personally. It helps a lot if you have a reliable and practiced method in place beforehand so you don't have to experiment during the weekend.

One thing I found DIDN'T work for me was the gymnastics-style taping shown on Rif's blog. I saw a lot of people who taped like this and still had severely torn up hands (not necessarily BECAUSE of this taping style, but the tape didn't prevent it either).

For protecting the ball of the hand, I like the sock sleeve much better, and it has the advantage of being quickly removable for presses and getups. I tried a few different types of socks, and the ones that worked the best were wool or synthetic (not cotton) with a dense, flat knit (not large ribs). I also experimented with tubigrip tubular elastic bandage, but found that because it is not as substantial as a sock, it doesn't stay in place as well, and the cut edges tend to fray and shed a lot.

For my fingers, I taped my middle, ring and pinky fingers from the base to the crease of the last joint before the tip. I did not tape my index fingers at all since they never seem to get hot spots. In my pre-cert experiments, I found that if I just taped the segments between the joints, the edges of the tape would roll up and cause problems. But if I taped the whole finger over the joints, it was hard to get the right tension so the tape was secure but the fingers could still bend easily.

My solution was to start with a strip of tape (one or two layers) lengthwise along the gripping surface of the each finger, then wrap the segments between the joints separately. This keeps a solid layer of tape across the gripping surface of the joints, but leaves a small gap in back so the fingers can bend easily. Finally, I found that two or three layers of tape gave more protection, stayed on more securely and prevented rolled edges better than one layer (but too many layers interfered with grip).

As far as chalk goes, I recommend staying away from it, at least after the snatch test. It does enhance the grip, but it is very drying to the skin, amplifies the damage from lapses in technique, and makes it almost impossible to get tape to stick if you need to apply tape over it. For regular training I often use it. But during the cert, where you don't have the option of stopping, I wouldn't advise it. Maybe you could get it to work if you have good technique, aren't taping at all, and can rinse off and moisturize at your breaks (I believe Jordan posted about using this strategy successfully).

Most of all, I recommend experimenting before the cert -- finding where you tend to suffer damage, trying different forms of protection and making adjustments in technique. Everyone is different, so what worked for me may or may not work for you, but hopefully my experience may prove useful to others.
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