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Every boxer puts on a few key pieces of gear before throwing their first punch.

Hand wraps are the first line of defense that protects your hands and wrist from injury inside the boxing glove.

This article discusses which wraps to pick and how to put them on before entering the ring.

Before you put on boxing gloves, it is important to wrap your hands.

Boxing wraps will protect the tendons and ligaments of your hands and add support to your wrist.

It may also aid in the transfer of force from your fist to the target of your punch. A comparative study from 1984 found that without wrapping the hand, a person’s punching power was significantly less than with the wrap.

A very small study from 2015, on the other hand, found that wrapping the hands reduces punching force, but it does offer better protection for a person’s hands. Ultimately, more research needs to be done on this topic before experts can reach conclusive findings.

Wrapping your fists will also reduce the sweat exchange from your hand to the glove. This is good for keeping the gloves clean and keeping odor at bay.

You can choose from several kinds of wraps. Here are some options:

Cotton wraps

These are good for those in boxing training. This is because you can use them repeatedly.

They typically range from 108 to 210 inches (457 to 533 cm). Shorter wraps are better for shadow boxing or for people with smaller hands, whereas long wraps are better for sparring (fighting with a partner).

Elastic bandage wraps

These are like cotton wraps but contain elastic fibers, so they fit tightly to your hand during use.

Over time, they can get worn out when the elastic gives out. Plus, some boxers may find them a little too thick.

Gel wraps

You slip on these wraps instead of wrapping them around your hand. They are more expensive than cotton or elastic wraps and don’t provide as much support, especially around your wrist.

A 2017 study investigated hand and wrist injuries of boxers over a 7-year period and found almost equal injuries to the wrist and the hand in training, so it’s best to avoid these unless you really need the convenience.

Competition wraps

These are a mixture of gauze and tape, set to a standard combination of the two materials by boxing rulebooks.

They are one-time use. Yet the wrapping uses a different technique that requires a partner to help, so they aren’t that practical for everyday use.

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Illustration by Bailey Mariner

1. Unroll your wrap

Unroll the type of hand wrap you picked. One side will have a way to secure the wrap (like Velcro), while the other side has a loop.

Many wraps will have writing that tells you which side should face down. If you do not see this on your wrap, just pay attention to which side the adhesive is on, so you make sure to wrap it in the right direction.

2. Place your thumb through the loop

Stretch your hand out with the wrist straight, spreading out all your fingers. Place your thumb through the hole at the end of your wrap.

3. Wrap the wrist

Wrap from your thumb across the back of your wrist 3 or 4 times if needed, making sure to keep the wrap flat and even as you wrap.

4. Wrap the hand

Pull the wrap around the back of your hand, just above your thumb and across your palm 3 times, ending at the base of the thumb.

5. Wrap the thumb and anchor it to the wrist

Wind the wrap from the base of your thumb to the top, then back down to the bottom and finish by wrapping it around your wrist one more time for extra stability.

6. Wrap the fingers

Start at the inside of your wrist and wind between each of your fingers, back around to the inside of your wrist. Start from between your pinkie and ring finger first and circle inwards with each finger.

7. Wrap the hand again

Wrap once around your wrist, then wind around your hand again. End with one last long wrist wrap.

8. Secure the wrap

Fasten the end to the Velcro and then test by throwing a few punches to see if the wrap is too tight or loose. You want the wrist and hand to feel secure, but not so tight that it becomes hard to make a fist.

  • You can always re-wrap if the tension doesn’t feel right. Remember the goal of a wrap is to protect the wrist, hand, and fingers in the glove and to support the power of your punches.
  • The more protection you want, the longer you want the wrapping cloth to be.
  • For solo training or people with smaller hands, opt for short lengths of cloth.
  • If you don’t have enough length to wrap between each finger, you can wrap and anchor the thumb and then wrap the hand before securing the Velcro.

Consider wrapping your hands up before you put your gloves on when you’re practicing on the bag, shadow boxing, or sparring.

Wrapping your hands might increase the force of your blows, but, more importantly, it will protect your hands, fingers, and wrist in a sport where injuries are likely.