Keegan and Audra Pafford are no strangers to rips.
Growing up, Keegan played baseball and basketball, with some gymnastics as additional training to improve upon his athletic performance. Audra was a state champion softball player in high school and then they both found themselves, later in life, training and competing in Crossfit. So they have had their fair share of calluses and rips, many painful.
As a result, they started W.OD. Welder, a natural skin care and athletic essential company that manufactures products for callus maintenance, smelly gym bags, muscle recovery, and more.
We sat down with Keegan and he explained what calluses & rips are, how they occur, and the best ways to treat & prevent them.
FYI…At the end of the interview, you can enter to win one of two great prizes from W.O.D. Welder!
GBC: Who or what is W.O.D. Welder?
KP: W.O.D. Welder is a manufacturer of athletic essentials. We create unique products that aid people in completing or recovering from their sport or fitness activities.
GBC: Why did you start W.O.D. Welder?
KP: We started W.O.D. Welder in 2014 as a result of tearing our calluses while doing a workout. Since then the market has certainly expanded, but our three-step system has proven itself as a leader in the space and that’s something we’re very proud of.
KP: We classify a “rip” as a callus that has partially or entirely broken away from the skin. Rips typically occur from lack of callus maintenance combined with increased friction on a given surface. For an Olympic lifter it could be caused from a barbell, for a gymnast it could be caused from a number of things like training on the parallel bars, rings, uneven bars, you name it! We deem a callus to be neglected if it is “rounded” and dry.
The ideal callus is a uniform height with the rest of the hand and receives daily treatment in the form of a moisturizer to keep the skin flexible and healthy.
GBC: Why do gymnast’s hands rip?
KP: Gymnasts hands rip due to all or some of the factors below:
- Calluses are too “rounded” –
When calluses are too “rounded” they inhibit proper hand placement on the bars. They also start to “bunch up” when you go to grip your hand around the bar. The more callus that is not in the correct position the higher the chance for a rip.
Just touching your phone zaps the natural moisture your body produces to keep your skin healthy, so don’t even get us started on what chalk does to your hands. Believe us we can be chalk fiends ourselves and love to have that “no slip” feeling. But we have to combat the effects of chalk use with a natural moisturizer to help replenish our hands of the valuable moisture lost during training. If hands are too dry, they don’t move as fluidly on the bars or rings and cracked skin or ripped calluses become imminent.
- Lack of grip strength –
We often see this in beginner lifters or gymnasts that a lack of grip strength leads to callus tears. Depending on the movement being performed, a strong grip may be recommended to keep hands in the proper position. Without the ability to do so your hands and calluses may become compromised and could lead to a rip. Train your grip strength!
- Improper/unlucky hand placement –
Sometimes you’re just unlucky. We’re looking at you uneven bars! An unfortunate placement of your hands could compromise your grip and lead to a callus tear for even the BEST cared for calluses in the world. If this is you, do your best to treat the rip asap with a natural salve for callus tears and get back at it.
GBC: You talk about “rips” being injuries and not badges of honor. Why do you think “rips” are looked at in a positive light?
KP: I think rips are looked at in a positive light because as humans we look for immediate gratification. We look for signs of our hard work paying off and calluses are a sure sign that you’re using your hands.
When they rip, for a lot of people I think it resonates with them on a really deep and primitive level that whatever they’re doing is hard and made them bleed but it didn’t slow them down.
GBC: You state that part of your mission is “…to make the best natural skin care products for athletes in the world.” Why is an all-natural product important to you and your company?
KP: With skin being the largest organ on the human body, we think it’s extremely important to treat it with respect. Putting products that are derived from petroleum never sounded appetizing to us so we set out to source natural ingredients. Turns out, natural ingredients typically work better than synthetic ingredients anyway, so it’s a win-win!
GBC: There are numerous “remedies” in the world of gymnastics for rips that range from using tea bags, medications, and even urine. Why should someone use your products?
KP: If you have something that works for you and it works FAST, then stick with it. What I can say about the W.O.D. Welder products, that are designed to treat hand rips, is that they were formulated with the fast treatment of your rip in mind.
If you haven’t tried any of the W.O.D. Welder hand care products, why not? But you don’t have to take my word for it, we have hundreds of reviews from our customers that will do a better job of explaining their effectiveness.
GBC: What do you suggest as the first step for a gymnast to begin protecting their hands from these injuries?
KP: The first step that a gymnast can and should take is maintaining the height of their calluses. You likely do this instinctively anytime a callus builds up…any biters out there? You can keep your calluses at a functional level by using a pumice stone, callus shaver, or any other tool designed to help.
We have all the tools necessary on wodwelder.com along with plenty of information on callus maintenance.
GBC: Now that an athlete has healed their injured hands of rips, what should they do to maintain their healthy hands?
KP: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Replenish the moisture lost from daily activity or chalk use with a natural moisturizer. We recommend using a moisturizer twice daily depending on your training time, but at the very least at the end of the day before bed. The W.O.D. Welder Hands as Rx cream was designed with athletes in mind with its non-greasy formula.
GBC: Why is it important for a gymnast’s hands to be hydrated and what product do you provide to help maintain this hydration?
KP: Hydration = flexibility.
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to live in a cold environment you know what cold dry air does to skin. Non-hydrated skin becomes dry and immobile which leads to cracks and rips. Use Hands as Rx and keep your hands healthy and flexible!
GBC: Gymnasts are barefoot all the time in the gym. Can their feet benefit from any of your products and why?
KP: Though we market our skin care products specifically to athletes who use their hands, our products can and should be used on feet if you’re having trouble. You would use our hand care products to treat the same symptoms on your feet. Our pumice stone to sand feet calluses, our salve to treat foot cracks, and our cream to combat dry skin on feet.
GBC: In addition to hand care products, you also have products for “muscle recovery”. What is “muscle recovery”?
KP: I define muscle recovery as a muscle’s ability to bounce back from exertion or training. Our muscle recovery collection revolves around aiding muscles to get them back to “full strength”.
GBC: What types of products do you sell to help with “muscle recovery” and how do they work?
KP: Currently our line of muscle recovery products includes bath bombs packed with Epsom salt and an organic muscle rub. Epsom salt baths have been used for centuries to aid and relax muscles. Our muscle rub is absolutely incredible. It has an intense warming/cooling affect and includes natural ingredients that have stood the test of time when it comes to muscle relaxation.
In our opinion, a relaxed muscle has the opportunity to work on healing itself and therefore promotes recovery. We also receive a lot of emails about people using our rub on their chest when they have a cold!
GBC: If someone is interested in learning more about your products, where can they go?