Hand wraps are the most crucial part of your foray into boxing, both to prevent injury and to avoid discomfort. Whether you’re in the gym or the ring, choosing the right hand wraps and wrapping them correctly can affect both your hitting ability and your recovery.
Initially, hand wraps were simple strips of cloth that wound around a boxer’s hands and wrists. Today, manufacturers use multiple types of cloth, materials, and fasteners to achieve a better fit and the best protection possible.
Although advances in technology mean you can slip on a pair of gel-filled gloves for convenience in the gym, most boxers prefer the conventional wrap style for a personalized fit. Here’s our ultimate guide on how to wrap boxing wraps the old-school way.
Why Boxers Wrap
You already know that wrapping your hands is a smart thing to do, but why? Gloves protect boxers in the ring, but the wraps they wear underneath help to align and strengthen hand joints. Snug wraps also compress the soft tissue in the hands, giving them more power when formed into fists.
Wrist support is another highlight of wrapping since the fabric helps support proper positioning even during impact. Plus, wrapping your thumb along with your wrist and knuckles gives it extra support to prevent sprains or conditions like boxer’s fracture.
Types of Wraps
From all-in-one mitts to lengths of bandage material, there are plenty of options for the best hand wraps for boxers outside of competitive settings. Most require intricate wrapping to protect hands and wrists adequately. However, advances in technology mean there are also slip-on models available that need only minor adjustments.
Training wraps are durable and reusable, but you won’t want to use them in the ring. They’re easy to apply on your own, and you can choose the weight and amount of wrapping that’s most comfortable for you.
Mexican wraps incorporate elastic material into their woven design. That means they have a little more stretch than training wraps, but it also causes them to wear out faster than standard training wraps since the material can lose its elasticity over time.
Alternative Wrap Styles
If you have a hard time mastering the precise wrap for your boxing needs, consider purchasing wraps in a glove or gel style. Gel wraps are fingerless gloves that slip over the hand and wrist. These gloves come in varying sizes and allow for minor adjustments within each size range.
However, some gel wraps include wrist wraps while the glove portion covers the knuckles and palm. With these, you’ll still wind the wrap around your wrists, but there’s less room for error since the glove fits your hand and fingers snugly.
How to Wrap Boxing Wraps
Both Mexican and training wraps are the type that require intricate wrapping to protect and strengthen your hands during a workout or recreational match. Here we’ll discuss the steps necessary to achieve an effective wrap.
1. Unravel the Wrap
You’ll want to start with a flat, unraveled wrap. If your wrap has wrinkles or twists, it won’t lay flat on your body, and it might loosen on you mid-jab.
2. Use the Thumb Loop
The loop at the very end of your wrap is for your thumb. Hook it around your thumb, stretching the length of the wrap across the top of your hand. Starting at the top of your hand keeps the fabric stretched tight, whereas wrapping across the palm of your hand means it could loosen when you make a fist.
3. Wrap Around Your Wrist
Stretch the wrap around your wrist, keeping it flat as you wind. Make a few passes around your wrist, maintaining a smooth surface. Depending on the length of your wrap and the size of your hands, you’ll likely want two or three passes around each wrist.
4. Wrap Around Your Knuckles
Move on to your knuckles once you’ve wrapped the fabric a few times around your wrist. Continue to keep the wrap material flat, and make a couple of passes across your knuckles. Keep the wrap tight to prevent sagging later.
5. Wrap Between Your Fingers
Crossing the top of your hand, wind the wrap through your last two fingers (your pinky and ring finger). Re-wind the wrap around to your wrist, and stretch diagonally across to go between the next set of fingers (ring finger and middle finger). One final pass goes between your index and middle fingers.
6. Wrap Around Your Knuckles (Again)
Once you’ve wrapped between each finger, wind the material back around your knuckles. This gives the knuckles extra padding and uses up any extra length in your wraps.
7. Secure the Thumb
For optimal positioning (plus the opportunity to protect your thumb and its joint), secure your thumb by wrapping at least once around it before continuing to finish the wrap at your wrist.
8. Wrap Around Your Wrist (Again)
Use the rest of the length around your wrist, winding as smooth and flat as possible. Secure the wrap at your wrist, whether via Velcro or another fastener type.
Step-by-Step Video Help
The below video from Everlast gives a step-by-step demonstration of each item above, so you can pause and revisit as needed to get an excellent wrap fit on both hands. Recall that the number of times you wrap your boxing wraps will depend on hand and wrist size, along with the length and elasticity of the wrap you choose.
Troubleshooting the Fit
Ideally, once you complete the wrapping process, the wrap should feel tight against your fist. If the fabric gives and the fit feels loose, re-wrap them a little tighter. You don’t want to lose feeling in your hands, but you do want to feel a slight restriction when you make a fist.
You may have to test your wraps in a few variations before finding the ideal fit. Try wrapping with two versus three passes around your wrist, experiment with the amount of padding in your knuckles, or even try out different lengths of wraps to accommodate your hand and wrist size.
Learning how to wrap boxing wraps may not seem glamorous, but it can help strengthen your form and reduce injuries. For example, junior welterweight world titleholder Sergey Lipinets had to call off a match due to a potential sprain in his hand. Lipinets sustained the damage during training- something all boxers want to and can likely avoid through proper wrapping.