The Ultimate Guide on Boxing Handwraps – Why Do Boxers Wrap Their Hands?

There are countless articles advising ‘how to wrap your hand wraps.’ And it can be big business but it’s crucial to know why boxers wrap their hands.

Why does it matter? Don’t worry, this isn’t a history lesson.

We’ve put together a ‘Boxing Hand Wrap Guide’ so you’ve got the information needed to protect your hands, avoid the marketing hype and fight with confidence.

Do You Need Hand Wraps For Boxing?

Yes. Don’t train without them.

Unless you want to do yourself permanent damage.

A.K.A Don’t put on a pair of boxing gloves without your handwraps.

Shirtless man wrapping his hands sitting on the edge of the boxing ring a boxing gym.

Why are Boxing Hand Wraps Necessary?

Going back to basics, boxers wrap their hands because it’s written in the rules.

Boxing Rule 3.22

“Bandages are permitted for the protection of hands. These must be 2-inch wide soft bandage and 1-inch zinc oxide plaster. The tape must not be applied over the knuckles.”British Boxing Board of Control

And it’s a rule for a good reason. For protection.

  1. To protect the boxer’s hands
  2. To protect the boxer’s opponent

As a boxer, you need to take care of your hands. Being the most important tool in your arsenal, hand wraps protect your hands from damage, both in and out of the ring.

For example, almost every amateur boxer initially starts boxing as a slugger and power puncher … and a slugger has more chances to damage his hands.  

Common injuries include: A sprain injury, a carpel or metacarpal bone injury or phalanges damage are almost predictable if someone throws punches without hand wrapping or improper wrapping.

“Boxer’s Knuckle” – a tear of the sagittal band of the knuckle.

Hand wrapping is as necessary for boxing as gloves are.

As the referee would say:

“Protect yourself at all times”.

The Anatomy of the Hand (and why it’s crucial for wrapping).

You have 5 different types of bones in one hand and 27 bones altogether.

Quick math, that’s a collective 54 bones in your hands alone that you need to take care of. Moreover, the bones in your hands are fragile and any damage to them will limit a fighter’s ability to compete.

Even though boxing gloves are the most obvious form of protection, hand wraps and boxing gloves offer two different types of protection.

Hand Wraps – secure all your loose joints and moveable bones so they are fixed together and can’t move on impact.

Boxing Gloves – cushion the impact of a punch for further protection of your hand, and your opponent’s face/body.

It’s common for people to mistake handwraps for being ‘extra protection’ or ‘extra cushion’ for your knuckles.

Your hand wraps are the true protectors. They fasten all your joints together so the shock of your punches are evenly distributed across your hand and wrists.

Injuries, like fractures, occur when your joints are moving independently, freely and in different directions.

As you train, you will grow stronger, as will your punches which means there is a greater risk of injuring hands.

Alongside learning how to punch properly definitely helps toward reducing hand injury. However, knowing how to wrap your hands properly is vital at every level of boxing.

Man in black t-shirt concentrating wrapping his hands with red cotton hand-wraps outdoors.

How do you know if your hands are wrapped properly?

When your hands are closed, your wrapped hands will tighten into solid fists.

Keeping Boxing Real, Wrapping Legal

Boxers should wrap their hands properly for the legacy of the sports. It’s vital for boxing’s reputation that hand wraps are ‘legal’. An illegal wrap (cheating and unsafe) defames the game similarly to Performance Enhancing Drugs and fraud/bad judging. Cheating isn’t boxing properly, no matter how competitive you get.

How To Wrap Your Hands?

  1. Loop the gauze around the thumb and move it behind the hand.
  2. Make three rolls of gauze around the wrist.
  3. Wrap three times around the palm, don’t try to cover your knuckles at this point.
  4. Make 3 X with gauze from the fingers to wrist,  first from the bottom of the hand to the centre of pinky and ring fingers make a shape of X on the backside of your hand.
  5. Make the same X on the backside of the hand, and roll the gauze between the ring finger and middle finger.
  6. Repeat the process and make the third X  on the hand and pass gauze between the centre finger and index finger.
  7. Now cover the thumb and lock it.
  8. Make 3 wraps around the knuckles.
  9. Wrap on the wrist and all done.

13 Boxing Hand Wrap Tips

Here is a checklist of a few tips and tricks to help you wrap your hands:

  • Hands should feel good all the time.
  • The wrap should not be too tight or too loose
  • The wrist can be tight or loose as per the ease and style of the boxer.
  • Those who like throwing hooks don’t tight their wrist.
  • Those throw more straight punches make a tight roll around their wrist.
  • Professionals add extra padding around their knuckles and they prefer to use tapes too.
  • The common length of gauze roll is from 120″ to 180″.
  • The short roll could cause damage to both the fighters as there would be less cotton around the fists.
  • A long roll will be cumbersome and would require extra rolling around the fists.
  • Amateurs normally use cotton wraps only.
  • A too much tightly wrapped hand will be hurt on the impact
  • A loosely wrapped hand will be damaged with the friction of gauze.
  • Even before a friendly match or sparring session hand wraps of both the fighters must be checked.

Do Hand Wraps make you Punch Harder?

In short, NO.

There is no secret hand wrap or magic wrapping technique that will give you extra power in your punch.

The marketing hype is alive and well when it comes to fancy hand wrapping techniques promising a ‘harder punch’ or ‘more power’. The idea of a ‘Master Handwrapper’ promising such is nothing more than an illusion to create a demand for individual’s special services, or a brand of hand wrap.

This said, there are many people in the boxing community who are knowledgeable in the physical science behind wrapping hands well. They are focused and dedicated on what they do but their goal is not to give a boxer magic to make them punch harder.

Do the basics, do not over-pad your handwraps and pay attention to the anatomical structure of the human hand.

Wrapping hands is mostly common sense.

Do some research and practice, practice, practice. This article was written so you know why you are wrapping your hands.

Think about your hand’s medical history.

As a fighter, it is important to think of any issues you have had with your hands and let your trainer know. Even slightly hurting your hands might indicate you need to adopt a different wrap.

What are the Best Handwraps?

Usually, these four types of wraps are available in the market.

Cotton Wraps, Inner Gloves, Elastic or Mexican wraps, fast wrap and gauze with tape.null

Cleto Reyes Evolution Handwraps

Suitable for all sports where hand and wrist protection is required. Manufactured with Lycra and gel pads for knuckle protection Wide elastic band adjustment for wrist and extra length for a customised cut.

Product shot of black cleto reyes evolution hand wraps.

Cotton Wraps

These are the standard and the most used wraps, mainly it is used by amateurs boxers during their fights and sparring sessions. A cotton wrap roll is wrapped around the hands of the boxers before they wear their gloves, with the technique we discussed above wear their gloves.

Product shot of Black and white Cleto Reyes Hook and Loop Closure Handwraps

Mexican Wraps

Mexican or elastic wrap is the same as the cotton wrap only it has more elasticity and it can be stretched to make a more tight hand wrap and can cover the area more conveniently.

Product shot of 3 pairs of Cleto Reyes Le Roy Bandages

Inner Gloves

It is a fingerless pair of gloves, it covers complete hand up to knuckles. This does not require any hand wrapping knowledge to wear. Inner Glove is a good option to save the time of wrapping.

Fast Wrap

Fast wraps are also ready to wear, One puts these wraps on the back side of the hand and covers his hand from wrist to knuckles. then ties it with an elastic band around the wrists. these are famous in the United Kingdom and many boxers are endorsing these wraps.

Tape and Gauze

This is the typical pro hand wrapping we see after the bouts. This wrapping is a combination of cotton gauze along with tapes to tight it.

The Overarching Goal

To protect your hands to the best of your ability but also to give you a sense of security. Feeling secure in your handwraps is vital to be able to punch without worrying about getting injured or being in pain.

The real secret is confidence. Being confident in wrapping your hands so it becomes second nature. This comes with practice.

Remember, boxing handwraps protect, they don’t punch.

So, do certain hand wrapping techniques increase a fighter’s punching ability?

  • Hand wrapping is for protection only.
  • No specific -legal- wrapping technique increases the power of a boxer.
  • No hand wrapping technique causes some extra damage to the opponent unless it is illegal.
  • Handwraps do not affect speed or accuracy.

Hand wrapping is the most needed item in boxing, along with a pair of gloves. One must wrap his hands before practice or bouts.