This was originally posted a few years ago, but I have had many questions about how to treat rips from swinging bars lately, so I figured it is time to republish it. This post contains affiliate links – if you make a purchase through any of these links I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
At our gym when one of the pre-team girls comes to us with her first “rip”, the coaches usually make a big deal about it, letting her know she is now an official gymnast. Seems silly, but rips from swinging bars is part of the sport of gymnastics. But once a gymnast has a rip, how do treat it?
- Have the gymnast go to the bathroom and wash her hands to remove any chalk and surface germs. Yes,it stings, but it still has to be done. Pat the rip dry with a paper towel.
- Have an adult carefully trim any excess skin using sterilized scissors and apply Neosporin or similar antibiotic ointment. Cover with a bandage and then wrap the bandage with athletic tape to keep the bandage in place. This should get the gymnast through the remainder of practice.
- Once at home, we swear by tea bags to reduce the pain and speed the healing of the rip. Prepare a cup of black tea using a tea bag according to the package directions. Remove the tea bag and place it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool. Apply the tea bag directly to the rip and leave it on there for 20 minutes or so. The tannic acid that occurs naturally in the tea is an amazing pain reliever! The tea bag will discolor the rip area, but only for a few days. It also helps speed the development of the new layer of skin.
- Over the next few days be sure to keep the rip area moisturized to prevent cracking and reopening of the wound. My daughter uses Bag Balm or her favorite lip balm – like Carmex or Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment.
- During practice, cover the rip with a bandage and athletic tape or make a tape grip so your gymnast can continue training. It really is good practice for gymnasts to learn to swing bars with a rip because undoubtedly at some point in their gymnastics career they will get a rip right before a meet and need to know how to work through it.
The tea bag method is not the only way to treat rips, however, it is the one that most of the gymnasts in our gym use. You can also treat rips with Vitamin E applied directly to the rip, Neosporin + Pain ointment, and some gymnasts will tell you that Preparation H works well (since it contains medication for pain and to reduce swelling).
Once your gymnast is ready for grips – don’t worry, her coach will let you know when – she still may get rips. For some girls, working bars with hand grips (I only recommend dowel grips with buckle closure) makes a big difference in their ability to swing bars and cut down on the number of rips.