Callus Care 101
Calluses are a common occurrence for many aerialists, especially those who work on ‘hard’ equipment like hoop or trapeze. Not just aerialists, but climbers, manual labourers, gymnasts; pretty much anyone working with their hands will end up with a callus at some point.
A quick google will tell you that calluses grow in areas that undergo repeated pressure or friction and to get rid of them you must either stop doing the activity causing them, or to wear protection, like blister plasters or gloves, neither of which is an option for aerialists, so how do we manage them?
It is important to regularly remove the top layer of dead skin as if the callus grows too thick, you are much more likely to get a split or tear which will be painful and won’t heal well which either leads to time off training, or bloody equipment, neither of which is ideal.
Aerial with no calluses can also cause issues, as the skin is so thin and soft, you are much more likely to feel the burn, so there is a happy medium to be found. This blog post will guide you through my do’s and don’ts to care for those grabbers!
***Please note: This article is written by someone who does not suffer from any skin conditions such as eczema or contact dermatitis. If you do have any conditions or have sensitive skin, please ask a doctor’s advice before using these products and always patch test***
Different apparatus can require different conditions, for instance using chalk on hoop or trapeze can be beneficial to prevent sweat and improve grip, whereas some people wet their hands to train on silks as the extra moisture can help. Everyone has different methods to their training, be it chalk, rosin, hand sanitiser, water, or just pure brute strength, no method is wrong, you just have to work out what works for you as an individual, as all bodies are perfectly different.
Prep before class
If you moisturise just before class, you’ll soften your skin and are more likely to tear, especially if your calluses are already thick - leading to what are called ‘flappers’ in the climbing community. This is when the entire Callus peels away and can leave the dermis (a deeper layer of skin) exposed, increasing risk of infection, not to mention being pretty painful!
If you are someone who excessively sweats from their hands, you may find using a product like Rhino Dry to help, but follow the instructions on the bottle, start slow and see how it goes. This is quite a harsh product, so I would recommend only using when you have an intensive workshop or performance coming up. Rhino’s tip juice also has drying properties, but will also assist in hardening the skin, helping you get back in if you’ve had some time off, or if you have a natural predisposition for soft thin skin.
PLEASE don’t use gloves. When you first begin aerial your skin may be silky smooth and callus free so it may be quite painful if you go too hard, too fast. This will be the same if you have had an extended time off training. Ease yourself in, hurting yourself will only lead to longer time off the equipment.
I would always recommend using less chalk/rosin to stop skin drying out as much, as dry skin can lead to calluses cracking which can be incredibly painful and will take a long time to heal. If you need to use chalk, but find liquid chalk too harsh on the hands, try using a chalk ball to gently pat a thin layer onto your palms, avoiding the backs of your hands.
If you have any torn or open calluses and simply can’t wait to get in the air again, then plasters paired with finger tape can be your best friend, depending on the placement. A plaster will help prevent any nastiness getting in, while providing some much needed cushioning and the fabric tape will keep the plaster in place, provided you have used enough that the tape can adhere to itself. Hoop or any other strong and flexible tape will work, finger tape tends to be a bit cheaper and comes in different widths.
I find that using a skin file, like those linked in our Amazon storefront will be gentle enough to not damage skin, but coarse enough to remove the layers of dead skin. I like to gently file my calluses while my skin is dry, with a very soft file, before using a pumice stone, or a more coarse file while in the shower with plenty of soap.
Once out of the shower, I like to apply some Climb On or Rhino Repair/Performance if the situation is dire, for a deep moisturise to help heal ready to train again! If I know I’m training again the next day, I’ll put a thin layer of moisturiser on before bed, whereas if I know I have some time to recover, I’ll put a thick layer on and let it sink in overnight, then repeat my filing routine after a few days, giving my hands some time to breathe and recover.
All of the products I have mentioned in this post are all linked HERE
I hope my post has helped you take care of your hands, happy flying from the team!