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Helpful handful: Judo hurts my hands

Photo courtesy of You are your Atman
So, a student asked me today, "You know, my hands really hurt after judo practice from gripping. Is that normal? What can I do about that?" Yep. That's normal. When you first start it is common to have abrasions on your knuckles from rubbing the other guy's gi, and it is common for the joints of your fingers to be sore. They will get accustomed to this contact and exertion pretty soon just doing judo, but if you want some more specific exercises, try these:
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  • Get your hands soapy and practice making fists over and over, opening and closing your hands. Make spearhands, claws, and tight fists. The soap really makes this exercise effective.
  • Get a heavy bag and practice punching it. If you have a grappling dummy or you want a more grappling-specific exercise, throw the bag on the ground and practice ground&pound from the mount and from knee-on-belly. Start sensibly and lightly and progress reasonably and slowly.
  • Get a bucket full of coarse sand or beans and practice spearing your hand into the sand then opening it in the sand. Alternately, practice spearing into the hand with an open claw and closing your fist around some sand. Again, take it easy with this exercise - you are not out to damage your hands more, but to learn a skill and get your hands used to the contact.
  • Get a medicine ball that weighs around 4-5 pounds. Clamp a claw onto it and hold it with your palm facing the ground. Practice releasing it and catching it in this palm-down position.
...and one more to make this a helpful handful:
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  • Practice no-gi grappling sometimes to give your hands a break from the abrasive gis. Or, if you are just doing gi-grappling then use palm hooks instead of grips whenever you can to relax your hands some.
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1 comment:

  1. Another small thing that you can do to condition your hands gradually (and better tailor your weightlifting to judo) is to use towels in your weightlifting. For instance, on seated rows, run a hand towel through the pulley handle such that an equal amount of towel is on either side of the handle. Put the ends together and grab the towel like you would grab a gi (wrapping your fingers into the fabric). This not only creates some friction on those fingertips and top knuckles, it also starts building grip strength.

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