Understanding Calluses From Rowing and How to Manage Them

Dani Hansen
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Rowing, a sport that demands dedication and endurance, often leaves rowers with a unique physical reminder—calluses on their hands. In this article, we'll delve into the science of why calluses form in rowing, evaluate whether they pose concerns, and explore effective strategies for callus management.

Why do you get calluses from rowing?

Calluses are the result of the repetitive friction and pressure that occur between the hands and the rowing handle. This friction, especially during extended rowing sessions, induces the thickening and hardening of the skin as an adaptive response to the stress. In essence, calluses are a natural, albeit unsung, manifestation of the dedicated effort put into rowing.

Are calluses from rowing a problem?

Calluses themselves are not inherently problematic and can be seen as a testament to a rower's commitment. However, in certain situations, calluses can become uncomfortable or even pose risks, such as blistering or tearing. It's crucial to monitor and manage them to prevent such issues from arising.

How to avoid calluses from rowing

  • Proper rowing form and hand placement: Maintaining correct rowing form is fundamental. Pay careful attention to hand placement and grip technique. An adequate, relaxed grip can help reduce the friction and pressure that contribute to callus formation.

  • Use rowing gloves: Rowing gloves with padded palms can be a viable solution to minimize friction and protect the skin. While calluses are not inherently problematic, gloves provide an extra layer of comfort for those who prefer it.

  • Hand maintenance: Moisturize your hands to prevent dryness and cracking. Maintaining healthy skin can minimize the likelihood of painful calluses.

How to treat calluses from rowing

  • Soak and soften: Soaking your hands in warm, soapy water to soften the calluses is a common approach. Gentle use of a pumice stone can help reduce their thickness without compromising their protective function.

  • Moisturize: Apply a quality hand moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and to mitigate further callus development.

  • Protect and cover: Cushioning bandages or adhesive pads can be used to protect existing calluses from friction and pressure, particularly during rowing sessions. Rowing gloves, with their padded palms, also serve as an effective protective measure for your hands, reducing friction and discomfort.

  • Rest and recovery: If calluses become painful or prone to blistering, consider taking a break from rowing to allow for healing and recovery.

Consult a professional: In cases of severe calluses or if they become infected, seeking advice from a healthcare professional or a dermatologist is advisable.

In summary, calluses in rowing are part and parcel of the sport, indicating a rower's dedication. While they can be managed and minimized through proper form, hand care, and protective gear, calluses are not necessarily a detriment. They represent the unyielding spirit and effort that rowers invest in their craft.

Embrace your calluses, monitor their condition, and apply the strategies discussed to manage them effectively. They are, in their own unique way, the marks of a passionate rower's journey.

Dani Hansen

Dani’s consistent enthusiasm and passion on the water is almost as impressive as her multiple medals in the World Championships and Paralympics. If you're looking for feel-good, high-energy workouts, and in-depth technical detail you can always count on Dani.