Good to hear your elbow healed up!
Yeah neglecting certain muscle groups causing muscle imbalances can be very detrimental for your health. I also experienced it. For me the problem were my shoulders and chest muscles. Too much benching and military pressing without properly strengthening the antagonist muscles led to a pretty bad muscular imbalance causing bad posture. Once I started training those antagonist muscles my posture luckily got better pretty fast. At least I then knew how important a certain balance is.
For a split second, I thought it would come together even if I wasn't in contest form. I have 18 (!!!) days of time off that I have to still use up this year. And there were only a few blackout dates, Xmas, etc. But I couldn't string together the weekend of Gripmas in a way that made sense. At least I did once make it to your fabled gym that year at Nationals :)
Of course if the hand size gets bigger it will be easy to set a gripper but when it comes to crushing, it’s not always bigger the better. I have a big hand and whenever I am trying to close a gripper, I always feel like I have more strength but I cannot close the gripper because it feels like I am overcrushing it or should I say my crushing range of motion is too short compare to thickness of the handle? I am sure there is a sweet spot hand size for closing COC grippers.