How To Wrap And Tape Your Hands For MMA 🥊✊🏆

How To Wrap And Tape Your Hands For MMA 🥊✊🏆

There’s something very iconic about seeing a fighter sitting in a locker room, headphones on, and one arm draped across the back of the steel chair while he or she has someone carefully and deliberately apply layer after layer of gauze and tape around the hand moments before they start their pre-fight warm-up routine. This scene is not just a motivating Hollywood action shot, it’s a proven method that all fighters use before any training session or competition.  

There is a common misconception among novice fighters and spectators that taping the hands before a fight is done to add an extra layer of padding underneath the gloves to increase the force of the punches thrown. This is incorrect. The objective here is to protect the knuckles, hands, and wrists and allow it to absorb the shock from the repetitive impact sustained throughout a fight.  

A very common injury in fighters is known as a “boxer’s fracture” (Source) which is associated with landing a punch on a very solid object, like a skull or jaw, which causes the more fragile bones in the hand to break. This type of injury cannot be entirely prevented but properly wrapping your hands before a fight can greatly improve your chances of avoiding injuries throughout your hands and wrists. 

Xray image of a fractured 5th metacarpal on a right hand, commonly known as the “boxer’s fracture”. Photo by  James Heilman, MD

Xray image of a fractured 5th metacarpal on a right hand, commonly known as the “boxer’s fracture”. Photo by James Heilman, MD

It might be obvious that every fighter, from the amateur to the professional level, dedicates time to guarantee their primary weapons, their hands, are prepared before every practice or fight. But what may not be so clear is the proper technique used to apply hand wraps, gauze, and tape and when is it appropriate to use just hand wraps versus when is it more beneficial to wrap the hands in gauze and tape.  

Check out the break down below to help you decide how to wrap your hands before your next training session or fight.  

When and How-To Wrap Your Hands Using Hand Wraps

Hand wraps (Amazon link) are typically used by fighters and recreational athletes during practice or when hitting the heavy bag because they can be used repeatedly, don’t require a lot of time or expertise to apply, and still, offer a decent level of protection and shock absorption to the hands for hitting pads or sparring. After practice, they can be rolled up so they can be used at the next training session.  

Before you start wrapping your hands watch the video below to learn how to correctly wrap your hands using fabric or elastic hand wraps 👇

When wrapping your hands there are few things to keep in mind:  

  • Be sure that the wrap is applied tightly to keep your knuckles and wrist stabilized but make sure you can still comfortably close and open your fist 

 

  • Ensure the wrap isn’t too constricting or cutting off circulation to your fingers and  

 

  • Check to see if the wrap is free from folds as this will cause the wrap to come undone  

 

  • Secure the wrap in place with the Velcro strap at the end of the wrap 

 

  • Throw a few punches to ensure the wrap feels suitable and doesn’t unravel or loosen    

When and How-To Wrap Your Hands Using Gauze and Tape

Wrapping your hands using gauze and tape, like you’ll see professional fighters don just before sliding on gloves, are far more stable and reliable than cloth or elastic hand wraps but they also require a higher level of experience to be applied correctly and efficiently.  

There are a few reasons why good old fashion gauze (Amazon link) and tape (Amazon link) is the preferred hand wrapping method for higher-level fighters.  

  1. Gauze is lighter and more breathable than typical cloth or elastic hand wraps making it far more comfortable underneath boxing of MMA gloves. Gauze is also more shock absorbent than other materials used for hand wraps.  

 

  1. Sports tape is much more effective at maintaining tension throughout the wrap during a fight as opposed to a cloth or elastic hand wrap that will tend to loosen up after multiple rounds. 

 

  1.  Unlike cloth or elastic hand wraps, gauze and tape aren’t “one size fits all” and more or less of either material can be applied to form a strong wrap around each fighter’s fist. Although this means that the gauze and tape have to be cut away after a fight and cannot be reused.  

Typically, unless you’re like UFC Fighter Dustin Poirier, you won’t be the one wrapping your hands before a fight. But that doesn’t mean you won’t need to know the intricate step-by-step process of wrapping your hands which is explained in detail here (Youtube Source). A good hand wrap leaves you feeling confident that your knuckles, hands, and wrists are protected with every punch you throw. 

Differences in Hand Wraps for Boxing and MMA and Other Combat Sports 

All fighters, regardless of whether they’re competing in mixed martial arts, traditional boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing or even bare-knuckle boxing, wrap their hands before stepping foot into the ring or cage. However, not all hand-wrapping methods are created equal and each style has its unique advantages and disadvantages.  

As you can probably imagine, a boxer, kickboxer, or Muay Thai fighter is more willing to sacrifice finger dexterity to protect his or her knuckles as most of their offensive movements will involve closed fists; except for the clinch in Muay Thai.  

An MMA fighter, especially one who specializes in wrestling or grappling, will need freedom throughout their hands to throw punches but must also be able to grab their opponent for takedowns and to execute submissions. What they lack in padding around the knuckles, they make up for in finger mobility.  

Although the name, “bare-knuckle boxing” leads you to believe that the fighters will have completely bare hands, most fighters will have a thin layer of gauze or wrap around their palm and wrist to lock the down the wrist during the fight. Bare-knuckle fighters are usually not permitted to have an additional form of padding on the knuckles. 


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