MMA is a contact sport and makes the athletes very susceptible to injury. Correctly wrapping up your hands and wrists before you fight helps to minimize the risk of damage to your body. It is particularly effective in minimizing the risk of getting a boxer’s fracture.
Professional fighters tend to wrap their hands with gauze and tape, although this is not common in novices. This is because while the gauze method is more effective and stable, it is much harder to apply correctly.
How do you do it?
To wrap your hands correctly, you need to buy MMA specific wraps. Your first step is to check the wrap for ‘up’ and ‘down’ labels. This will ensure that you place the wrap in the correct position.
The side marked down should be in contact with your skin, while the one marked up should be facing away. This ensures that the Velcro strap will be facing down and the wrap will stick together to remain in place.
If your wrap is not marked with labels, you should use the direction the Velcro faces as a marker as to how to apply. Unroll the wrap and pinch the velcro. Roll the wrap forward, ensuring the wrap faces down. Keep rolling until it has all been wound together.
Hold the hand to be wrapped out in front of you, palm facing down. Spread your fingers as wide as possible. This will ensure that you have a tight wrap, but without preventing blood flow.
Find the thumb strap of your wrap and thread your thumb through it. Pull the band over the back of your wrist. If you do not have thumb straps, twist the end of the wrap around your thumb to hold it in place.
Your next step is to wind the wrap around your wrist and lower forearm, about 2 inches up from your wrist. You must take great care to keep your arm in a straight and extended position as you are doing this, to ensure the wrap is tight.
Loop the band’s fabric around your arm 3 times. Ensure that you are wrapping tightly to protect your joints. Do not tighten the fabric so much that it cuts off blood circulation.
Flip your arm over and wrap the fabric around your wrist a couple more times, to bring it up to the heel of your palm. You should stop when the band has crossed the back of your hand and the excess fabric is on the pinky side.
Flip your hand back over and pull the fabric across your palm. Wrap it around the lower knuckle of your thumb and then pull through the gap between your thumb and index finger.
Pull the end of the wrap along the back of your hand to make it come to the knuckle of your little finger.
Wrap the fabric around your knuckles and across your palm. Do not forget to keep your fingers spread out!
Pass it through the gap between your thumb and forefinger, and lay it straight across the knuckles on the back of your hand. Do this again until your knuckles are covered.
Wrap it over the back of your hand so the excess is on the pinky side. Loop it across your palm and around the knuckle of your thumb. Pull it across the back of your hand and feed it through the gap between your pinky and ring fingers.
Pull the fabric across your palm towards your thumb knuckle, making a fist as you do so. This will ensure that the wrap is tight while you are punching.
Loop the fabric around your wrist again. Ensure the excess fabric is by your thumb knuckle once the wrap is complete.
Stretch out your fingers again and feed the band through your ring and middle fingers. Close your fist and pull the fabric tight. Wrap it around the ball of your thumb and your wrist. Stop when the excess fabric is on the pinky side of your hand.
From the palm side, pass the fabric through your middle and index fingers. Cross the band over the back of your hand, towards the pinky.
Spread your fingers apart and wrap the fabric around your knuckles a couple more times.
Continue to wrap the fabric around your wrist until you reach the Velcro section. Secure in place tightly, but not so tight that it impedes blood flow.
Wiggle your fingers around a little and make some fists. Your wraps should be tight but should not cause discomfort.
What size wraps do I need?
The standard wrap size is 460cm or 180 inches. This seems very long, but the multiple loops around your hands are what will prevent them from breaking in the ring.
If you have smaller hands, 270-300cm (108-120 inches) wraps should be sufficient.
What types of hand wraps are available?
There are 3 main types of wraps available for fighter’s hands. These are fast wraps, cloth or cotton wraps, and elastic wraps (also known as Mexican style wraps).
Fast wraps are much faster to apply than any other form of hand protection and offer a great deal of support. The only problem is that you must stretch out your glover before using them with fast wraps.
Cloth wraps are the most standard and are the ones that you traditionally see fighters wearing. They are fairly cheap and come in all colors and sizes. They are effective, but take some skill to apply.
Elastic wraps are essentially cotton wraps with added stretch. This allows for a slightly tighter wrap and provides a little more support than cloth wraps.
You can also get inner gloves, but these are much less supportive and padded than any kind of wrap. They resemble fingerless gloves and are incredibly easy to put on.
They are better than having no support but are not suitable for serious MMA fighters as they do not provide an adequate layer of protective padding.