Hand Health
by Christopher Filkins

Regular ring use will result in callus formation on palms and fingers. Occasionally rips will occur at the point where a callused part of your hand meets uncallused skin.

This line between the two types of skin is the weakest and can be mitigated by using a file to shave off the callus so it is not quite so deep. I use a file on my palms almost every day. Just a few minutes shaving down the lumps will help your calluses to spread out rather than get deeper.

Use as much climber's chalk as possible. It is quite common to see someone put chalk on their hands only to clap their hands together afterwards. More chalk is better, less chalk - not so much.

A new product -- Tite-Grip -- eliminates the need for messy chalk. Developed by professional golfer Joe Ginger to help his students hold a golf club securely, it has become popular with other sports enthusiasts and is a boon to ring swingers. It is a hand cream that was formulated to stop hands from perspiring and keeps them dry for 4–6 hours.

Grips are important for changing several things about the way you relate to the rings and your hand health but they are not necessary and many top swingers do not use them. Those who do recommend Model R506 Men's Ring Grips, which are available in sizes 0 to 3 for $40 from Frank Endo Company.

When you rip a callus, follow these instructions to heal your wound quickly:

1. Put chalk in the wound to stanch the bleeding and to keep it clean until you get home.

2. Take a small pair of scissors and carefully cut off the flap or flaps of skin pulled off in the rip. This is important because if you leave flaps of skin you'll find yourself catching them on something and causing the rip to get larger. These types of after the fact rips tend to be much more painful. When you are swinging and rip your nerves are actively preventing some of the pain signals from getting to your brain. But when you are not swinging and just going about your life there will be no blockage of the nerve cells and you'll feel the pain a lot more acutely.

3. After you have cut away the skin flaps you should put your hand with the rip into salt water or simply pack salt into the rip. Warning: this is extremely painful and you should be prepared to grit your teeth and bear the pain. I personally use a very salt saturated mixture of warm water and keep my rip exposed to it for several minutes until the pain has begun to ebb. I have known others who swore by simply packing dry salt into the wound but it has not appealed to me as much as a salt and warm water mixture. The reason why this is so important is that the salt will dessicate the surface of the rip and cause it to close up and seal much faster than any other method for healing. The sooner you can close the skin to outside water, grime, etc the faster it will heal. In my experiments over the years my skin will heal almost twice as fast when I apply the salt mixture as opposed to not.

4. After you have applied the salt mixture and the pain has begun to ebb you can wash the rip with cold clean water. This will also hurt so be prepared.

5. Dry the rip with a clean towel. Keep it exposed to the air until it dries.

6. After the rip has dried if you feel the need you can bandage it or wrap it in some fashion to keep it clean. You should never do so though until it has completely dried and shows no evidence of seeping. Sometimes the salt will properly dessicate the wound and there will be no seepage at all after following the steps above. Other times the rip needs to stay exposed to the air for a few hours before you wrap it. If you wrap the rip prematurely it will not seal properly within the bandage and you will lose the benefit of the salting.