What Does Wrapping My Hands Actually Do?
If you have never boxed before, or even put on boxing gloves, you are probably wondering what the deal is with the hand wrap. We see it in movies and on TV, the boxer is sitting in the changing room while somebody wraps their hands and wrists in what almost looks like a bandage. But what is it, and why do you need it?
The raw deal is that boxers need to protect their hands. To put it lightly, a fighter's hands are their money makers. If a boxer hurts their fingers, sprains their wrist, or even breaks a bone in their hand, they won't be fighting anytime soon. It would be like a brain surgeon punching a brick wall. No hands, no fighting.
The Importance of Wrapping Your Hands
Wrapping your hands is going to protect your hands and wrists from injuries that could occur while punching another human being or a punching bag. The wrap goes firmly around your wrists, your palms, and all the way around the bases of your thumbs. The wrap works by compressing the soft tissues of your hands and thereby strengthening them when your fists makes impact.
Wrapping your hands keeps your wrist joints supported and aligned for when you punch something, allowing your hand to better absorb the energy from the impact. And so, rather than sprain your thumb because you accidentally hit someone's elbow, the wrap helps to better absorb the impact.
The most common injury suffered by boxers is known as the boxer’s fracture, which is a fracture that occurs in either the fourth or fifth metacarpal. The risk of this happening is drastically reduced when the fighter wraps their hands, as the wrap keeps the bones and tissues tightly compressed throughout the duration of the fight.
An interesting fact is that many boxers claim they feel a lot less pain when their hands are tightly wrapped. Also, many boxers feel like they hit harder with the wraps on. As someone new to boxing who is wrapping their hands for the first time, it may feel like you are putting on a pair of big heavy gauntlets. The bulk of the wrap makes you feel stronger.
What Kind of Wrap Do Fighters Use?
There is not one wrap to rule them all. Depending on the size of your hands, what kind of boxing you are about to do, and what your general preference is, you and your friend may use two different kinds of wraps.
The most common wraps for training are cotton. These wraps are secured at the end with Velcro and can be used for adults or children. Mexican wraps are almost identical, only they are woven by using elastic fibers so that they can mold excellently to your hand. The big problem with Mexican wraps is that they are not as durable as the cotton ones. The elastic tends to wear over a while. However, both Mexican and cotton wraps are great for training.
Gel wraps are a newer invention. These wraps aren’t really wraps at all. In fact, they are slipped on over your hand just like a pair of fingerless winter gloves. These are much more expensive than the Mexican or cotton wraps, but they are also a lot more convenient. All you need to do is slip them on. It does not take as much time as wrapping lengths around your wrists and palms.
Finally, we have the competition wraps. These are used in professional fights, and there are even rules about exactly how much each fighter can use, ensuring everyone has the same padding. Comprised of tape and gauze, these wraps are not able to be reused. For this reason, they are generally only used during a fight. It is also much more difficult to wrap with the gauze and tape, which is why you generally see a coach or a trainer doing it for the fighter.
How Should I Wrap My Hands for Training?
There is something of an art to the way fighters wrap their hands. Any experienced fighter can do it blindfolded, but if you are starting to train at home or you are a little bit nervous, here are some tips on how to properly wrap your hands.
The first part is tricky. You need to make sure you are wrapping your hands just right. Think about Goldilocks. If the wrapping is too loose, you are not going to have the proper protection against injury. However, if they are too tight, they will cut off your circulation, which is just as dangerous. You need to find the best fit and feel for your hands.
When wrapping, ensure there are no wrinkles in the fabric. Imagine it like sleeping on a lump in your bed. You do not want the wraps to be wrinkled once the gloves go on. Not to mention, having wrinkles in the wrapping will work against you, leaving your hands vulnerable to injury.
Another important practice is to keep your wrists completely straight when you wrap them. The wrap needs to compress and stabilize your wrists, which means your wrists need to be perfectly straight when being wrapped. Otherwise, the fabric will loosen later on and do more harm than good.
Basically, wrapping your hands is extremely important. Having your hands properly wrapped before putting on boxing gloves and smashing your fists against a giant bag of sand is critical to keeping your thumbs and wrists from spraining, straining, or otherwise being seriously damaged.
If you are just starting out, it is highly recommended – by myself and everyone else who has ever boxed – that you have a professional help you. You can read guides or watch a video online, but nothing compares to learning how to wrap your hands from someone who has done it thousands of times.
And whatever you do, don't hang a punching bag in your basement and start wailing on it with your bare fists. I guarantee you will not be impressed with the results.