How to Toughen Up Your Hands for Rowing

Rowing can be rough on hands.
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Rowing requires an incredible amount of discipline, strength and focus. One area sometimes overlooked is the palms and hands which, if not accustomed to the rigors of rowing, can quickly become cracked and full of blisters -- which can get quite painful! But you'll need to toughen those hands up and get used to the harsh conditions of rowing if you want to keep dedicated to your crew team.

    Step 1

    Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands before and after rowing to ensure debris and dirt doesn't cause infections. Be sure to use antibacterial soap and water for washing.

    Step 2

    Apply hand lotion or moisturizer daily before and after rowing to keep your hands soft and hydrated. This can help reduce cracking of the skin.

    Step 3

    Gently rub your hands together with a smooth piece of wood between them until they hurt a little. This will help build up tolerance to rowing and help toughen your hands up. Watch out for splinters.

    Step 4

    Practice rowing daily whether indoor on a rowing machine or out on the water with your team. The daily contact with the paddle handles will help your hands become used to the grip and repetitive motion of rowing. While blisters may still occur, this may reduce the severity and number of blisters.

    Step 5

    Keep your grip looser on the paddle handles. Gripping too tight not only causes pain and cramping in the hands but can also cause additional cracking while irritating blisters.


    • Rub your hands with a small amount vaseline before rowing to keep your skin pliable and lubricated.


    • Do not pop blisters. Cover them with bandages as needed if they interfere with rowing or daily hand usage.

    Things You'll Need

    • Hand lotion or moisturizer

    • Piece of smooth wood

    • Vaseline

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