Every bit of offensive energy you generate while boxing, ultimately, gets delivered through your fists: two very small areas where the entire impact of your offense happens. To stay away from injury and to be able to practice the sport much later in life - you need to take special care of your hands.
What Boxing Equipment Protects Your Hands?
Your hands are your biggest asset in boxing. Getting them strong, tough, and durable, as well as protecting them from injury requires some extra work and some equipment. Protecting your skin with hand wraps, protecting your joints from shock with padding using high-quality boxing gloves, a punching bag, and proper technique will guarantee your hands are healthy and that you will be able to enjoy the sport of boxing for many years to come.
How Do Boxers Protect Their Knuckles?
The knuckles are probably the first place where injuries start to occur if a boxer’s hands are not well-protected. In medical terms, the knuckles are called metacarpophalangeal joints. There are a variety of injuries that can occur in these joints. They can become calloused or calcified and immobile. The tendons and ligaments can be injured, and even a simple bruising of the knuckle skin can lead to significant enough pain to keep you from throwing punches.
The first step in protecting your hands is to properly cover your knuckles from impact, unwanted movement, and friction. Here’s what we recommend:
Wearing hand wraps is the first and most important step in protecting your hands when boxing, kickboxing, MMA, or other martial art disciplines that involve punching. Boxing hand wraps are made of a thin layer of material that helps prevent hand injury to your knuckles and wrists on contact with a punching bag. Traditional hand wraps come with a long elastic band that goes across all five fingers, securing them together tightly to form one unit of protection for both knuckles and joints around the wrist. Read more in this article on how to use hand wraps for beginners.
There are two popular types of hand wraps: traditional hand wraps (as described above) and quick wraps. While classic hand wraps are cheaper, they are much harder to put on correctly than quick wraps. This article describes step-by-step how to put on traditional hand wraps. If you’re a beginner and you’re looking for hand and wrist protection but don’t want the hassle of traditional hand wraps, boxing quick wraps are great. Here is an overview of quick wraps.
Using proper boxing gloves is also very important for hand care. Boxing gloves provide protection for your hands with padding. The additional padding in boxing gloves absorbs the residual shock of your punches. There are a variety of types of boxing gloves available that range in weight, padding, price, and use (sparring versus competition). For beginners, it is best to buy a well-padded pair that you can use on the heavy bag as well as in sparring.
FightCamp co-founder and trainer Tommy Duquette wrote an excellent guide on choosing your first boxing gloves.
Using a higher-quality punching bag can go a long way in protecting your hands from injury.
There are two main points to consider when thinking about hand protection:
How hard is the punching bag?
What material is it covered with?
For beginners it is better to have a softer bag that is covered with leather or vinyl, while harder and heavier bags can be a better option for more advanced boxers. Texture-covered bags are usually just a cheaper alternative and don't bring much value to the build of the bag nor the training of the boxer using it.
Check out this extensive guide on choosing the best punching bag for you.
Executing your punches without proper technique exposes you to a lot of potential injuries.
From making a proper fist, to correct rotation of the hand upon delivery of a punch, to concentrating the power on the first two knuckles (index and middle finger), having proper boxing technique is crucial, not only for the effectiveness of your attacks but for staying away from injury.
In this video, FightCamp Trainer Coach PJ explains the boxing punch count numbering system and shows proper technique for throwing each punch.
There are many other ways...
In the sections above, we covered the most important tactics for boxing hand care--the techniques and tricks for protecting your most important asset in boxing: your hands. Here are other ways to protect and care for your hands:
Knuckle Pads (often used in actual fights and sparring)
Boxing Hand Grenades (small rubbery things you squeeze onto, to make your fists tighter and better formed)
Icing your hands after workouts to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery
If taking care of your hands as described above doesn't help enough, you systemically feel pain after working out, your hands feel sore in the days following a workout, etc., reduce the intensity of your striking and allow your hands to harden a bit more gradually. A boxing beginner with proper technique would have 80% of the power they can develop, but not more than 20-30% of the hand strength and resistance to handling the shock of landing those punches. "With great power comes great responsibility" is usually used in a bit different context, but it applies here, too.
Step-By-Step Hand Wrapping (Traditional Boxing Wraps)
Step-By-Step: How To Put On Boxing Quick Wraps
How To Care For Your Boxing Wraps and Gloves
How To Choose The Right Punching Bag For Your Workout
How To Choose the Best Boxing Gloves For Beginners