Rock and boulder climbing can take it out on hands; climbing can be hard both on your skin, and on joints and muscles. In this blog we take a look at what helps look after sore hands after an arduous climbing session.
Looking after your hands when you’re climbing requires approaching the problem from several angles at once! It’s not usually enough just to pile on the lotion after a climbing session; you really need to think about preparing your hands well before you reach the wall.
One important factor in healing sore hands is your overall health. It’s important to keep yourself in good shape with a healthy diet and plenty of water, so that you’re actively helping skin to heal if it gets broken by a climb. A healthy body will repair damage to the skin faster and more efficiently than a tired, dehydrated or depleted one.
The same applies more specifically to your skin: skin in good, healthy, well-moisturised condition will fare better under harsh conditions than dry, fragile skin. The epidermis needs vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and moisture to support its constant cycle of repair and regeneration. Provide what it needs, and it’s more likely to be resilient, strong, and quicker to heal.
Another important other consideration is what you put on your hands; if skin is raw, fragile, dry or cracked after a day of chalk and rock, you need to be really careful about what you then go on to put on it. Perfumed lotions, creams containing alcohol, household soap or washes made with SLS detergents, can all aggravate damage rather than supporting healing.
Tips for looking after climbers hands:
- Keep your nails short and well-filed
- Look after your hands as part of your daily routine - keep them clean and moisturised.
- Keep yourself hydrated and well-nourished
- An hour or two before your climb starts, massage a rich balm into the skin of your hands. Don’t leave it any later than this, as it needs time to be absorbed so your hands won’t be slippy.
- Wash off all dirt and chalk as soon as you can with a unperfumed, PH-neutral wash (Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash would be perfect) and warm water
- Dry your skin with a clean, soft paper towel or shammy towel
- Apply a thick balm or ointment - not a lotion - all over your hands immediately after drying
- File, clean and dress any broken skin
- Do regular stretching exercises to keep muscles moving
- Hang on to ice cold water bottles or ice packs if your hands are really feeling achy and sore
What’s the best balm for climber’s hands?
Choose a balm that’s made without water; anhydrous salves or ointments don’t need preservatives so are less likely to sting on contact with raw patches or cracked skin.
It’s also worth looking for an oil-based balm, as he higher the oil content, the more effective the moisturising.
Finally, pick one that doesn’t contain fragrance or sulphates, as these can also aggravate sore or inflamed skin.
Balmonds Skin Salvation ticks these boxes, and then some! It contains natural ingredients which actively support skin regeneration and repair, as well as helping to prevent any tiny flaps, splits or cuts on your hands from getting infected. It’s made with naturally antimicrobial olive oil and minimally-refined beeswax, both of which can protect skin from bacterial or fungal infections. The beeswax is also effective at forming a fine semi-occlusive barrier over sore skin, protecting it from further damage and moisture-loss. All in all, it’s a great solution for climbers’ hands, both as preparation before you climb, and to help soothe hands after you finish your session.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
with calendula & chamomile
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.