A kettlebell is a cast-iron weight designed to help you build strength throughout your entire body, as well as improve your endurance. Kettlebells are forged with metal handles that often rub on your hands over the course of an all-kettlebell workout. As a result, calluses often form and tear, especially if you are not wearing gloves or have not applied any padding to the handle of the kettlebell.
Callus Formation and Location
Callus formation is common in a variety of different lifting exercises, especially if you perform them on a regular basis. While a moderate amount of callus formation as a result of extensive kettlebell exercises is common, excessive callus formation can result in painful tears and pops that can derail your training. During a kettlebell workout, calluses tend to form on the hip of the palm, as well as at the base of each finger. The hook grip and finger lock in kettlebell exercise often result in a callus just below the base of the index finger. Any calluses that form in the palm of your hand are the result of an improper grip.
According to kettlebell coach Mike Stefano, the best way to prevent torn calluses and take care of your hands is through superior technique and form. During a kettlebell exercise, the primary hand that is engaged in the "snatch and lift" portion of the routine must be wrapped around the handle of the kettlebell, making sure the handle is placed firmly against the base of your fingers. Your thumb should be wrapped around the top knuckles of your index and middle fingers, making sure it stays in place during each lift you perform. While lifting and swinging the kettlebell, do not perform rapid jerking motions. This causes unwanted stress and strain on your hands, resulting in torn calluses. Instead, keep your motion fluid and constant, stopping if you feel any pain in your hands.
In addition to improving your form, properly protecting your hands with a variety of different devices can help reduce your chances of sustaining a torn callus. Gloves are a common and cheap way to protect your hands from the handle of a kettlebell. A basic pair of cotton gloves helps provide padding between your hand and the handle, reducing friction, as well as the severity of your calluses. Cutting off the fingers of the gloves allows for better range of motion while performing kettlebell exercises. Athletic tape can also be wrapped around the sensitive areas of your hands to provide a layer of protection between your hands and the handle of the kettlebell. Other methods of protection include lotion and a smoothing block to help whittle down your calluses.
While torn calluses are not an uncommon side effect of kettlebell training, they must be treated with extreme care to minimize the duration of your recovery, as well as to reduce any chance of infection. If one of your calluses tears during a lift, apply an antibacterial solution, such as Hibiclens, to the effected area immediately. Add a bandage or adhesive wrap to the top of the tear to prevent any additional bacteria or dirt from getting into the callus. If your callus fails to heal or begins to appear red and discolored, consult a doctor for more extensive healing procedures, such as antibiotics.