All About Hand Wrapping for Boxing

There are a few things boxers need for training: gloves, good shoes and hand wraps. Hand wrapping is usually the last thing boxers think about. However, your ability to punch lies just as much in your hand wrapping as it does in your mind. Without a good hand wrap, you may be open to injury and hesitate to take a punch.

The History of Hand Wrapping

The first time that hand wrapping for boxing was mentioned in history was in Ancient Greece in 688 B.C.E. Boxing was a part of the very first Olympics and was often used in gymnasiums among the Grecians as part of their education as young men. The Ancient Greeks used strips of oxhide softened with olive oil, called himantes, to wrap their hands.

Boxing was outlawed in Rome after 500 C.E. So, it went underground, and bare-knuckle matches became the norm. In 1743, a rudimentary padded glove was used during training but was not used in professional fights. That changed in 1867 when the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, John Douglas, endorsed the code of modern boxing. Gloves were finally considered normal boxing equipment. From the 19th century up to the 1920s hand wrapping became popular. In the 1920s it became the standard for glove boxing to protect the hands.

In the 1920s, gauze and tape became the norm for hand wrapping. With the invention of masking tape, boxers had the ability for the first time to have an adhesive to secure the gauze.

The Purpose of Hand Wrapping

The purpose of hand wrapping has a few objectives. One is to provide a protective barrier for the fighters’ hands. The hand structure consists of small joints and small bones that are fragile and subject to fracture from the impact of repetitive punches. Hand wrapping also protects the tendons, muscles and cushions the impact of the wrist.

The second purpose of the hand wrap is to keep the loose or moving joints in place. It provides restriction for these joints, so the shock is absorbed and redistributed across the entire hand. If your joints are moving around when the fist makes contact with an object, a fracture could occur. Additionally, there could also be other injuries to the tendons and muscles. These injuries could interfere with your everyday activities.

How to Wrap Your Hands

You will need 180” cotton wraps for average size hands or 120” for smaller hands. Mexican wraps are semi-elastic and are also acceptable wraps for you to use. However, they will break down faster than cotton wraps.

  1. Loop the thumb and wrap behind the hand. Make sure you have adequate tension so that when you make a fist, the wrap tightens around it. However, make sure it doesn’t constrict the hand too much. Don’t run the wrap around the front of the hand instead of the back first; this will loosen the hand wrap when you make a fist.
  2. Wrap three times around the wrist. This will support the bone structure and tendons in the wrist. Note: if you have larger than average hands, wrap only two times. Make sure that you keep the wrap free from wrinkles or lumps. These can cause gaps in protection of the hand. Finally, keep your wrists straight to keep them stable for a fight.
  3. Wrap three times around the palm of your hand. You’re focused on wrapping around the palm rather than the knuckles at this point. Bring it back down to the back of your thumb. Also, make sure your fingers are spread the same width apart. You want to mimic the movements you will be making in a spar or bout as you wrap.
  4. Make three X’s through the fingers. Cross over the back of your hand. You want your knuckles secured together for support. Keep your knuckles separated, not bunched on top of each other. This will keep them from collapsing or fracturing.
  5. Wrap between your ring finger and pinky and then to the other side. Wrap down to the bottom of your hand. You will form an X on the back part of your hand, then wrap back up to the top of your thumb one more time. Go between the middle and ring finger until you have made a second X. Go back to the top again, weaving between the index and middle fingers. This is the third X. Finish on the top portion of the thumb. Keep all your fingers separated while doing this step.
  6. Wrap around the thumb once. Then go down the back of the hand.
  7. Lock your thumb. Go behind the thumb and down the palm. This will lock the hand wrap into place and secure the thumb.
  8. Wrap three times around your knuckles.
  9. If you have extra wraps left, you can do more X’s around the back of your hand. Finish by fastening the velcro on the wrist. Throw a few punches to see how it feels before putting on your gloves.

Mistakes Made in Wrapping

Using too much tape and gauze can cause a problem for a fighter. Tape and gauze are porous and can allow moisture to seep through. This can cause sweat to accumulate, adding additional weight to the fighter’s hands and gloves. Additional weight to the boxer’s gloves means their punches will become slower.

Another mistake you can make is not understanding the anatomical structures of the hand when wrapping them. Also, be mindful of your medical history when wrapping. Any injuries or other hand, wrist or finger issues should be addressed before wrapping to better protect them.

Last, but not least, choose the right wrap. Wraps that are thick and inflexible don’t secure the hand properly when making a fist.

Hand wrapping is an important process before training or getting into the ring. Lack of proper wrapping can impede your performance. Make sure that you follow the tips above and practice them.

Remember, if hand wrapping is a challenge for you, our coaches are here to help. We also have wraps available at the studio during your session, so get your hands wrapped up and get in the ring!