Ever wondered why your hands and wrists hurt like hell after a hard boxing, Muay Thai, or mixed martial art training session? It is most certainly because you’re not taking care of them properly. When fighters enter the cage or a ring, referees always tell them to protect themselves at all times, because one tiny error can cost them dearly. The same philosophy applies to training sessions as well, because there’s a higher risk of injuries due to constant wear and tear. If you don’t want to twist, sprain, and damage the tendons, ligaments, and bones in your hands and wrists, you need an immaculate pair of hand wraps. In this article, we will discuss why hand wraps are essential.
In short, the reason why seasoned athletes do not go without a pair of wraps is for forming a secure fist, added padding, and additional wrist support. By wrapping your hands, you secure your bones and tissue as you hold the position of a fist. Let's dive a bit deeper though.
How do hands get damaged?
No matter how deeply you understand the subtleties of combat sports, injuries are inevitable. 'What goes around, comes around', so when you strike someone with force, you hurt them, but there’s a high chance that you would also do damage to your hands. A human hand consists of 27 small bones, which suffer a great deal of shock with each hit. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that the right kind of padding is used.
Hands also take some damage when they are used as a guard to block kicks, knees, and even punches. If you have well-fitted hand wraps, they will hold everything in place, and your chances of suffering a painful injury will be fairly reduced.
There are two common hand injuries in boxing and combat sports. The first one is the boxer’s knuckle, which is the injury of the extensor tendon hood of the metacarpal-phalangeal joint, or the knuckle, as the name suggests. The tissues around the knuckle are very thin, and therefore, are more prone to injuries. A partial tear could heal with proper care and rest, but a complete tear requires surgery.
The second common hand injury is the boxer’s fracture, which occurs when a bone at the base of your finger near the knuckle breaks. The bone is known as a metacarpal, and a fracture could take up to two to three weeks to heal.
Not to be frightened, however. As we’ve mentioned, a decent pair of wraps will most certainly lessen the odds of sustaining such injuries.
Types of hand wraps
Hand wraps come in a number of different shapes and sizes. In fights, professional wrapping is mainly used. This sort of wrapping consists of layers of thin gauze and tape, which is applied by cornermen and trainers. These sorts of wrappings are also used by high-level professional athletes during training.
However, if you are a beginner, there are a lot of options available for you. The most common type of hand wrapping is the cloth or cotton one, which is used by athletes from around the world. These wraps are very affordable compared to the other types and come in different lengths to ensure that you have the right quantity of protection.
Mexican-style elastic wraps are a preferred alternative to the cotton/cloth type. Compared to the cotton ones, Mexican-style wraps offer more stretch, allowing you to wrap your hands more tightly, with a greater amount of protection. If you are looking for quality ‘Mexican style’ hand wraps at a very reasonable price, the Lotus hand wraps are an excellent choice. These hand wraps provide enough flexibility and a strong grip. The wraps also don’t suffocate your hand and compromise your mobility in any way.
Traditional hand wraps are more effective, but they can take up to a couple of minutes to wrap, and can be a little tricky to tie if you are using them for the first time. A quicker solution are quick wraps, which are a relatively new addition to the market. These wraps are like fingerless gloves, which provide an excellent amount of padding and protection.
You can also try inner gloves, which are similar to quick wraps, but they offer little protection compared to the options mentioned above. They are better than using no protection at all and a lot easier to put on than the traditional ones, however.
Advantages of hand wraps
There are a number of reasons why hand wraps are essential.
- Ensured Safety
Protection of hands is the most important thing for any combat sports athlete, because their fists are their strongest weapons. If you are spending your fortune on purchasing high-quality gloves for your practice, you should also make sure to add hand wraps to your bucket list.
If you are a professional athlete or simply love boxing, the last thing you would want is to spend your prime time sitting at home because of a wrist injury or broken fingers. With quality hand wraps, you can continue to practice and sharpen your skill set with greater confidence.
- Wrist Support
Wrist sprains are excruciatingly painful and can take up to two to 10 weeks to heal, but some might take a lot longer. Hand wraps are designed with the purpose of securing the wrists and they provide the wrists much-needed support for greater power and accuracy in punches.
- Improved Performance
Fighting or training without the fear of injuries is the best thing that could ever happen to any athlete. The main goal of every combat sports athlete is to leave the gym and cage unhurt and on a different level altogether. Since hand wraps add more power and accuracy to your punches, providing solid protection at the same time, athletes can land killer combinations without much hassle, and with little to no pain whatsoever.
Unlike boxing gloves, shin pads, and body protectors, hand wraps are super affordable as well as effective. One of the main reasons why experts recommend hand wraps is because they are very inexpensive. If you are spending your hard-earned money on the more expensive products, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go for hand wraps too.
A few extra dollars are totally worth it.
- Better Glove Fit
There is often little space left in your gloves when you wear them, even when they are the right size. Loose gloves can hinder your performance and result in injuries. If you use good quality hand wraps, in addition to offering you the benefits mentioned above, they will cover the loose spaces in your gloves, and make them fit perfectly.
What can go wrong when using hand wraps?
In the above portion of this article, we discussed why hand wraps are essentials. However, where hand wraps are a blessing, if not applied properly, they could prove to be quite bothersome as well.
- Cuts to the hands
Using good quality hand wraps is extremely important. Poor quality or rough hand wraps can cause cuts and bruises to the hands. Hand wraps are already very affordable, so you should always go for the best possible option available, rather than trying to save money on them. Another thing to watch out for is the style of the wrap to make sure there are no friction points on the wrap.
- Wrist pain and hand tightness
The most obvious sign that you haven’t wrapped your hands properly is when you feel pain in your wrists and tightness in your hands when you’re pummeling your punching bag with those knockout blows. The purpose of hand wraps is to align your wrist and protect your bones, and if wraps aren’t doing their job properly, there’s a big chance that you haven’t tied them correctly. If you feel any sort of pain or discomfort in your hands, you should immediately stop and rewrap your hands.
If the wraps disintegrate or become loose as soon as you throw that first punch, it’s also a clear indication that you haven’t wrapped them correctly. Do it again if that’s the case.
- Poor blood circulation
Where loose wraps are a bad thing, tying them very tightly is even worse, because it can cut off blood circulation. If your hands feel heavy or go numb, it’s most likely because you have wrapped them up too tightly for your own good. You should stop immediately, unwrap your hands, and wait a few minutes to let the blood flow again before wrapping them again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do hand wraps increase punching power?
Yes, hand wraps do affect punching power, as they provide your hands with a firm grip. Their main purpose is still to protect tissues and bones in your hand.
Are hand wraps reusable?
Hand wraps are of two types, disposable and reusable. Disposable ones are mostly used in combat, for example the gauze and tape ones, while reusable ones are used in training, for example the cotton and Mexican style hand wraps.
What should be the ideal length of hand wraps?
Hand wraps come in different lengths. Some are 180 inches, while others are over 200 inches. The length of your hand wrap depends on the amount of protection you require. Lengthier hand wraps provide greater protection.
Can I use gloves without hand wraps?
You can use gloves without hand wraps, but it is recommended that you don’t, because your gloves might not last very long in that case. Not only do cotton hand wraps protect your hands, but they also reduce the amount of sweat left on your gloves.
What is the lifespan of a hand wrap?
Hand wraps can be used for up to four to five months, but if they wash them regularly and take good care of them, they can last a lot longer than that.
Final thoughts on why hand wraps are essential
So far, we have learned why hand wraps are essential, the types of hand wraps that are available out there in the market, the advantages of having a solid pair of hand wraps in your kit, and how to keep them nice and clean. Of course, whether or not you want a pair of hand wraps is up to you. If you feel comfortable solely wearing the gloves, and you think you can manage your training and keep your gloves protected without the hand wraps, then you’ve probably already made up your mind. However, hand wraps will surely make your training and combat experience a whole lot better.
You might not want hand wraps, but you certainly need them.
How to use hand wraps
If you want to avoid wrapping your hands the wrong way, you should follow the steps mentioned below. Or watch this video: https://www.instagram.com/p/COnxVbJJNVX/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.
Step 1: Anchor the thumb loop around your thumb, and then wrap the strip around your wrists three to four times. End the last wrap on the side of your thumb.
Step 2: Slowly move towards the knuckles and loop the wrap three to four times. The higher the wrap, the better as it should protect your knuckles when you make a fist.
Step 3: Go back to the wrist and then wrap the spaces between your fingers. First wrap the space between the little and the ring finger, then wrap the space between the ring and the middle finger and lastly, wrap the space between the middle and the index finger. Use your thumb as the anchor, so the wrap is coming up from the base of the thumb.
Step 4: Continue to wrap the base of your thumb, going over and then under your thumb. The thumb should be wrapped as firmly as possible. Then go from the thumb to the wrist one time to avoid overextending your thumb.
Step 5: Go back to wrapping the strip around the knuckles until almost 20 inch is left. Then go around your wrist until you are done.
How to take care of hand wraps
The best way to store hand wraps is to roll them up, as this saves space and also makes the wrap easy to apply. However, you should never roll your hand wraps up immediately after training because they are soaked with sweat, and can produce a bad odor. The best thing to do is to let them dry before they are rolled up.
Most hand wraps are also washable, apart from the tape and gauze ones, so you should wash them once in a while to keep them nice and clean. It is recommended that you wash the hand wraps in mesh bags, so they don’t get caught up in washing machines, which can cause damage to the product. Also, don’t forget to unwrap them before placing them in the mesh bag.
You should avoid drying your hand wraps in a dryer, as they would shrivel up and lose elasticity. Simply let them dry in the sun.
Thanks for reading.
Until the next one,