The thing with sweaty hands is not only are they extremely awkward to have whether you’re alone or not but they’re also quite a pain to deal with when you’re training. Sweaty hands can greatly affect the way you perform your lifts specially when it comes to ballistic workouts. And in the context of kettlebell training, none can be more annoying than having sweaty hands.
This is specially true for those living in humid countries, where swinging the kettlebell or snatching them poses some risk of the bell flying off somewhere like your windows or your car. Being a kettlebell lifter in the Philippines, I find myself struggling to swing or snatch beyond my max weight for fear of the kettlebell sliding from my hands. I often remedy this by applying starch, chalk, and drying with thick tissue paper with every set. I repeat, EVERY SET. By the time I’m done, the floor would either be powdered white or be filled with moist tissue paper. I kid you not.
Imagine aiming to surpass your 5-minute one-hand swings record or performing a snatch test but you constantly have to pause every 5 or so. It kills your rhythm and momentum. It also causes you to get tired faster because you end up gripping too hard or be extra cautious with each rep as the bell might fly of at any moment. It’s scary and really distracts you from focusing on your form and workout altogether.
This is why I did a bit of “sweaty” research and found out a few natural/homemade ways to rid yourself of sweaty hands. Some may seem odd while others are common sense.
What Causes Sweaty Hands?
The technical term for sweaty palms is “palmar hyperhidrosis”. “Palmer” refers to the hands and “hyperhidrosis” means too much moisture. It describes a condition in which your hands are producing excess sweat. Your sweat glands aren’t shutting off, no matter what conditions your body is subjected to.
This condition can also be called primary hyperhidrosis, in which the underarms, face, feet and hands experience excess sweating.
For many, sweaty palms only occur in certain situations. Have you noticed when you’re experiencing a nerve-wracking or exciting situation, your palms suddenly seem to exude gallons of sweat?
That’s because our sweat glands are connected to our nervous system. When our nervous system acts up, so do our sweat glands. It’s cool the way our body parts can talk to each other, isn’t it? While this may be interesting, it’s also quite annoying.
The connection between our sweat glands and our nervous system is a lot like blushing (or Pinocchio’s nose growing at the first sign of a lie). What’s happening on the inside, a place we all usually prefer to keep private, is suddenly visible for all to see.
Now that the cause of sweaty palms has been discussed, let’s talk about some solutions. Below are some useful practices and products for soggy palms.
1. Baby Powder
Sprinkle your hands with baby powder whenever you get a chance. The same properties that aid in diaper rash will help fight against sweat. For convenience, buy a portable sized baby powder bottle. Make sure you rub hands together thoroughly to avoid ghostly-looking hands.
Other than its sweat-fighting abilities, baby powder is a great item to take on the go for other reasons. It helps with stinky (and sweaty) feet and acts as a great dry shampoo, just to name a few of its talents. Just be careful when applying so you don’t end up with white streaks all over your clothes.
A personal favorite is buying powders that technically cornstarch. While it’s cheaper to just get cornstarch, having a bit of regular old powder in for smoothness and some fragrances is worth the money.
2. Carry Pocket-Sized Hand Sanitizer
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers will have a drying effect on the hands. This is a temporary fix, but one that can come in handy. If you want to avoid some of the unknown ingredients in conventional hand sanitizers, here’s a recipe for homemade alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
- 5-10 drops lavender essential oil
- 30 drops tea tree essential oil
- 1 Tablespoon high-proof vodka
- 8 ounces 100% pure aloe vera gel
- ¼ teaspoon Vitamin E oil– a natural preservative to increase shelf life and softens hands
Add essential oils and vitamin E oil to a small glass bowl and mix. Next, add alcohol to the oils and stir again. Add this mixture to the aloe vera gel and mix well. Shake gently before each use. (Due to the vitamin E, sanitizer should last for several months.)
3. Wash Your Hands More Frequently
This may require extra trips to the bathroom, but it can’t hurt. Making a point to wash your hands more often will inevitably dry them out some. Also, keeping hands extra clean is never a bad thing.
4. Tackle Your Stress
We’ve written about how to decrease stress in many articles. What we forgot to cover was how having sweaty palms is a common side effect of stress. One of the first steps to getting a handle on your stress is to actually recognize it. Most of my stress sneaks by unnoticed until a physical or emotional side effect catches my attention.
Address what’s causing you to stress, and then decide what steps are most conducive to deal with it. Having sweaty palms is not the worst thing that comes from stress.
5. Just Relax
To take it a step further with dealing with stress, making a conscious effort to stay relaxed can help those who get sweaty hands when they start to tense up. If you find this tough, fake it until you make it, as they say.
Meditate, do yoga, get outside, or just take 5 minutes to get away from the daily stresses of life by closing your eyes and taking deep breaths.
6. Iontophoresis Kit and Yes, it’s hard to pronounce
This is a treatment that uses water to charge an electrical current underneath the skin. It temporarily stops sweating. Many kits are available for use at home, and other than a slight tingling sensation, they’re completely painless. This may seem a bit drastic but it’s worth spending money on if you like to keep swinging without toweling off.
7. Avoid Petroleum-Based Lotions and Most Oils
If you find yourself regularly using lotions that contain petroleum or oils such as coconut oil on your hands, try to switch to lighter lotions. Petroleum-based lotions and many oils trap and seal in moisture, which prevents sweat from drying out.
8. Antiperspirant, anyone?
Here’s something a bit drastic (yes, even more than electrocuting your hands).
If the excessive sweating is severe enough, you may want to think about using antiperspirant on your hands. Using a spray-on antiperspirant will be more convenient than a conventional stick-on. There are also antiperspirant hand creams on the market designed especially for this problem.
You may want to be cautious with antiperspirant because many people suspect aluminum exposure to be harmful for our health. Research aluminum found within antiperspirant before you start using it on your hands as well.
Depending on what you conclude, you may want to opt out of using antiperspirant on your hands (and your underarms as well) and start using a more natural deodorant instead.
9. Cool hands make dry hands
Overheated hands can be a large cause of sweat production, so cooling them off is a logical remedy. Try placing hands in front of an air conditioner or a fan to diminish the heat and slow the sweat production.
If you find yourself away from home, run hands under cool water and fully dry them.
10. Improve your diet
Our diet definitely has an effect on our sweat glands. Anything that contains spice or caffeine can spike the glands that are responsible for sweat. Below is a list of some foods that help in reducing sweat:
- Low-Fat or Skim Milk
While it’s good to eat some healthy fats, the fat in whole milk encourages excess sweating. Sticking to lower-fat milk will help aid the problem.
- Fruits and Veggies
You probably saw this one coming. High in water content and chock full of nutrients, fruits and vegetables will help keep you hydrated, slim, and your digestive system in tip-top shape. All of these things assist in the minimization of sweat.
- B Vitamins
Your body will inevitably run much better when it’s being sustained well. B vitamins have a similar effect on your body as regular oil changes have on a car. Oil changes keep your vehicle from overheating and straining, while B vitamins will help your body run smoothly. In fact, vitamin B12 deficiency alone is linked to excessive sweating.
B vitamins help keep the metabolism functioning properly as well as nerve communication, which keeps things working and healthy. Without these essential B vitamins, the body is forced to overcompensate and work harder, causing extra sweat.
So, if you want to get at the heart of this pesky sweating matter instead of merely masking it, load up on B vitamins or start eating plenty of proteins, hearty whole grains, and veggies. As you can see, eating a healthy diet is crucial decrease sweating.
- Olive Oil
As I mentioned earlier, the harder the body has to work, the more it will produce sweat. Olive oil is processed and digested incredibly easily by the body, making it the dream food for those with overly sweaty hands.
Besides this, olive oil an overall healthy habit to take up since it aids in lower cholesterol and healthy blood pressure. It’s practically a staple health ingredient in almost every kitchen and makes plain old vegetables actually taste good.
Dip bread in olive oil (instead of slathering on the butter) to add to a healthy dinner. You can always add a splash of balsamic vinegar in the oil for an extra kick of that sweet and zingy flavor. Drizzling it on top of hummus, soups, and cooked veggies is definitely worth a try!
Olive oil is such a great way to start eating foods that your body loves to digest.
Sounds simple, right? Everyone knows that keeping hydrated is all around healthy, but sometimes it’s hard to stay on track with the eight-glasses-a-day rule when the other demands of life are so, well, demanding.
What drinking enough water will do to your sweaty hands, though, should help you to remember to drink up. When your body is sufficiently hydrated, it doesn’t need to work as much to regulate its temperature. So, again, less work equals less sweat.
What I normally do is drink 2-3 glasses as I wake up in the morning, for my daily workout routines, and drink 2 glasses right after. I also make it a point to gulp down one glass every hour for the rest of the day. If you’re up for twelve hours, you can easily chug in twelve glasses without even thinking about it!
What Foods to Avoid
Now that we’ve laid out some foods that are anti-sweat, let’s look at the ones that should definitely be avoided in order to save that inevitable handshake.
The more you drink, the more you’re going to sweat, and a sweaty body means sweaty hands. Alcohol can widen your blood vessels, making your body more heated and causing sweat. So try to cut back on your alcohol intake to avoid sweaty hands and a healthy body in general.
- Processed, High Calorie, and Salty Foods
This kind of food is the biggest culprit for not only inducing sweat, but for causing a heap of other health problems. Your body has to work insanely hard to process things like fast food, which is usually highly refined and packed with sodium.
Since it’s double-timing on the job of digesting, your body will start to produce sweat as a result.
- Spicy Foods
I know, I know. I’m probably stating the obvious here. Reminders are sometimes needed, though, right? Super spicy foods cause our bodies to heat up, and in their attempt to cool down, sweat is a given. True, spicy foods have so many health benefits and makes food extra tasty but keep them in moderation if you want to reduce the water works.
What About Gloves?
Gloves are the most effective short-cut in treating sweaty hands. They’re good for fancy dinners, business meetings, or when you’re driving. They’re not a good solution for kettlebell training, though. Gloves can actually weaken your real grip and make your hands prone to injury. Yes, I’ve worn gloves before and yes, they’ve helped me break past my swing and snatch limits but at the cost of blisters, torn skin, and just really weak and fatigued hands.
I can’t explain it technically but it has something to do with how gloves press on to your hands and makes each swing or snatch much more cumbersome for our hands to bear. We don’t feel the pain while training since we’re still in the zone or too focused on training but boy when you remove those gloves you’ll be wanting some hot water to dip those hands to.
So yes, gloves work but at a price, a price you can avoid paying if you become patient enough with your training.
Look Ma, No (Sweaty) Hands!
There is much more information that can be found out there than what’s found on this article, so please do some research and decide what the best practice would be for you.
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