After years of resorting to running as my primary form of exercise, a few years ago I hit a breaking point and conquered my fear of the weight room. I then started lifting on and off, still interspersing running and cardio activities when I could.
But this summer, I joined a CrossFit gym and am loving going to as many classes as I can. Although it’s only been a little over three months since I started regularly CrossFitting, I’ve already noticed that I’m getting stronger. But it’s not just my muscles that are a recent development; I also observed something else new on my body: calluses.
Since starting to lift barbells and kettlebells, the calluses have appeared right below my fingers on both hands. Most of the time they’re not too irksome, but on a few occasions, I’ve felt intense pain after exercising with the calluses on my hands. One of my husband’s calluses even tore open (ouch!).
While they can be unpleasant, calluses aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They form due to continued pressure on a certain part of the skin. “Extra layers of skin grow over the affected area until a harder, raised bump appears,” notes Healthline.com. “Your body does this to protect your skin from being exposed to irritants or broken.”
Still, is there a way to take care of the calluses after you get them?
How to treat your calluses
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, a physician and the co-founder of medical information site MedAlertHelp.org, had a few tips to share.
“Proper moisturization will help prevent and treat calluses because it protects the skin from cracking,” he said. “When our skin is dry, the barrier that protects it from cracking is impaired, and this is how skin becomes prone to calluses.”
Djordjevic suggested using coconut oil to moisturize your skin.
Another piece of advice he offered is soaking your hands “for at least ten minutes in a bowl of water mixed with three tablespoons of Epsom salt, which will help to eliminate dead cells.”
How to prevent calluses
Treating your calluses is key, but it’s even better to be proactive. How can you prevent them from appearing in the first place?
Jamie Hickey, a personal trainer and founder of TruismFitness.com, recommended keeping a close eye on your grip while lifting, as it can reduce the pressure that forms calluses.
“Try holding the bar in between your palm and fingers, not in the middle of your palm,” he said. “This prevents the skin at the top of your palm from getting unnecessarily squeezed under the bar.”
If your hands are callusing from CrossFitting (or routinely lifting at the gym), try out some of these suggestions. And if you can, take charge early to stop calluses from showing up in the first place.