Boxing is a full-contact sport, and as such, injuries are as common as the rising and setting of the sun. This is why it is crucial to take all necessary safety precautions when participating in this type of combat sport.
One of the critical protective accessories that a boxer must always have in-hand when stepping in the ring or when training with a heavy bag is the hand wraps.
In this article, we will be discussing how boxing without hand wraps can lead to injuries that can pretty much put you on the shelf for a couple of weeks, or in some worse case scenarios, months and how to wrap hands for boxing.
The Human Hand – Anatomy 101
Before we move forward, let us first take a quick anatomy refresher course. Hands are built to be extremely flexible and maneuverable. The human hand is constructed of 27 bones which provides it with an excellent range of motion. At the center of your hand are the metacarpal bones while over on the wrist lies eight carpal bones.
Due to the hand’s level of mobility, it is one of the more complex parts of the human anatomy. The metacarpal bones are all attached to the phalanges bones, which are the fingers. Each of the five main phalanges for each hand consists of three individual bones. As you can see when you bend your fingers inward, it folds on three different segments. The thumb is the exception here as it only features two separate bones.
Connecting and covering the phalanges and metacarpal bones are the ligaments and tendons that provide the hand’s mobility and strength. The human hand is a complex structure of interconnected muscle fibers and bones; an injury with one specific section can completely shut down the hand’s functionality.
The Effects of Boxing on your Hands
Boxing and MMA are all about striking. While MMA incorporates different martial arts practices into the fold wherein, an athlete can use not only their hands, but also their feet, knees, and elbows – boxing is exclusively for hand striking.
Boxers are more susceptible to hand injuries because of this, which is why hand wraps and gloves are crucial in this sport. The amount of punishment a boxer’s hands can accumulate during just a few years into their career is staggering. From hitting an opponent to hitting a heavy bag, the hands, specifically the knuckles, will be absorbing a considerable amount of punishment.
Another vital difference to note between MMA and boxing is that while MMA uses hands as well, it is not restricted to the basic jab, straight, hook, and uppercut strikes. MMA fighters can use hammer fists and back fist strikes which means that the knuckles do not exclusively take the brunt of all hand-related impacts.
Your hands will also not just experience significant physical impacts via offensive moves in boxing. The defensive side of boxing will also be a key contributor in this area. Parrying and blocking strikes from your opponent will also require your hands and arms to dive into harm’s way.
A poorly executed parry using the hand can easily spell bad news for a boxer as it can accidentally twist your hands and cause dislocation, fracture, or muscle tear around the wrist. Dampening the blow, securing, and stability are three reasons why hand wraps are vital in full-contact combat sports such as boxing and MMA.
Our hands consist of 27 small individual bones, all of which will go through a substantial amount of physical shock when boxing. This why having a hand wrap is crucial; it helps reduce the amount of impact absorbed while also helping keep your hands secure and in place.
Common Hand and Wrist Injuries Attributed to Boxing
Hand injuries are common in combat sports such as boxing and MMA. To the point that a particular injury has been officially named as a boxer’s fracture or brawler’s fracture. That gives you an idea of just how typical this type of injury is in the world of boxing that the injury uses “boxers” in its name description.
A boxer’s fracture involves a break or fracture on the knuckles. It is important to note though that experienced fighters are less likely to suffer from this particular injury. Experienced boxers are expected to be well-versed in throwing a proper punch that maximizes impact on the target while offering an even distribution of the shock on their hands which reduces the risk of injuries.
Hence, the other moniker of “brawler’s fracture” as brawlers are known to be quite sloppy in the art of fighting and are more likely to break their hands from throwing a punch.
What is a Boxer’s or Brawler’s Fracture?
A boxer’s fracture is an injury that centers around the hand’s metacarpal bones that connects the index, middle, ring, and little finger (2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th metacarpal bones) to the wrist. A significant shock commonly causes this type of injury to the knuckles that may fracture or dislocate the phalange bones to the metacarpal bones.
Symptoms of Boxer’s Fracture
As is typical with these types of injuries, pain and soreness are two of the most common symptoms to experience. Boxer’s fracture will cause tenderness around where the metacarpal bones are located on the hands. Pain from moving your hands and fingers will also be a prevalent symptom in this type of injury. Below are other signs to look out for to determine whether you have boxer’s fracture:
Swelling, bruising, and discoloration over on the metacarpal bone area.
A snapping sensation is common around the injured area as the bone might have slightly misaligned/dislocated.
Misalignment or deformity on the affected finger if the patients roll their hand into a fist.
Some form of laceration is visible. This may also denote a more severe case of boxer’s fracture, which will need immediate attention.
If you experience any of the following symptoms during or after a boxing match or training, we highly recommend you have your hands checked out as soon as possible.
Hand Injury Treatment
Treating this type of injury has a relatively fast recovery period, depending on the severity of the fracture. Remember that proper assessment by your doctor is the first step to a quick and complete recovery.
In most cases, injuries related to boxing will have around a recovery period of a week or two. Proper rest will be required as well as some medications for the pain and swelling. You will also still be able to complete regular daily tasks with little to no issue.