In sports which rely on using your body as a weapon, it’s understandable that you’re putting yourself at risk of all sorts of aches, pains and injuries. Knuckle, finger and wrist pains are especially common amongst beginners. Quite often these are caused by the same few issues, meaning a lot of the time there are steps which can be taken to get rid of the pains all together.
We’re going to be making a few suggestions on how to eliminate the mild pain which can occur when punching, but these tips won’t help if the issue is something more serious, such as a Boxer’s Fracture. If the pain is serious, or doesn’t calm down after following the advice given here then it might be time to talk to a qualified doctor or healthcare professional.
Wear Hand Wraps
Often when people suffer hand pains from boxing it’s because they’re wearing a boxing glove without any hand wraps. As a beginner it’s easy to underestimate the impact of wrapping your hands, however it’s probably one of the most important things you can do to avoid injuries and pains.
We’ve written up before about why you need to wear hand wraps, but to summarise, here are just a few of the ways hand wraps keep you protected:
- Provide extra padding to protect the knuckles from direct impact
- Prevent the knuckles and bones from separating/colliding together
- Prevent your fingers from pushing into your palm
- Reduce sudden movements in the thumb
- Add an extra layer of padding around the back of the hand, reducing shock from direct impact and softening vibrations in the hand caused from strikes on the knuckles
- Help keep the wrist straight and reduce the risk of sudden unwanted movements
We’ve recently released an article covering the different types of hand wraps, which includes wrap alternatives such as inner gloves. Inner gloves are better for comfort than actual protection, however if you’re currently not using anything then even inner gloves would be an upgrade.
Avoid cheap boxing gloves
For a beginner who knows nothing about boxing gloves, it’s pretty common to just look for the best deal or the cheapest pair of boxing gloves, especially if you aren’t sure how long you want to stick with it.
Unfortunately the old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true here, and from our experience the cheapest gloves you tend to find in sporting goods stores (usually the lower-end Title, Everlast and Lonsdale gloves) are often terribly made with no real protection or support whatsoever. One pair of cheap Lonsdale gloves we had even held the knuckles at a bad angle and had ridiculously flimsy wrist support which worries me that it could make injuries more likely.
Now, we’re not saying you need to go out and splash hundreds on the latest equipment, but even just increasing your budget a little bit can help you avoid doing more harm than good. Every brand is different, with almost every model of gloves having a slightly different shape, comfort and padding. We’ve said it before, but the quality of your fight gear matters. When it comes to boxing gloves, you’re paying for something to keep your hands safe, so make sure to read up on as many reviews as you can find before you buy.
Make sure you’re wearing the boxing gloves properly
When putting the glove on, make sure you push your hand as far in as possible. It’s okay if the tips of your fingers are touching or gently pushing against the end. Also make sure you’re clenching your hand into a fist when punching, which should help a bit with the knuckle positioning.
It’s okay for the second knuckle of the fingers to sit a little ahead of your actual knuckles. The knuckles often sit around where the padding is just starting to curve. Don’t bend your wrist to account for this, as the padding should naturally redirect the pressure through your knuckles.
If the contact puts pressure on your fingers, but isn’t uncomfortable or painful to use then take it easy for a session or two and the glove should start to ease in. Once the padding gets used slightly it should fit your hand better and bend a little easier. We have a great article here to help break them in if that’s the issue.
If the pressure is on your fingers and is uncomfortable or painful to use, then the design of that particular glove may be badly shaped for you personally, in which case you may find a different fit glove will sit a little better.
Make sure you’re making contact with the right knuckles
To get a little more detailed, we can look at what part of the hand you hit with. For beginners especially this often isn’t something you think about at all.
There are a few viewpoints on which knuckles you should aim to hit with. The main suggestion is that you should make contact with the 1st and 2nd knuckles (index and middle finger knuckles) which are the two knuckles best equipped to support the pressure, while the other main argument suggests you should make contact with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th knuckles (middle, ring and pinky knuckles) which holds your wrist in a slightly more supported position.
If you have some time to experiment then it might be worth trying out these two methods to determine if there’s a noticeable difference in terms of the pressure distribution for you, however for beginners we would probably suggest aiming to hit with the 1st and 2nd knuckles. This method keeps the smaller pinky finger away from the brunt of the impact which helps to avoid accidentally hitting it and injuring your hand.
Keep your wrist straight
If you’re already paying attention to which knuckles you’re punching with then you should have a fairly good wrist position already, but it’s still something important to think about.
The bones in your hand should be pointing forward in a straight line fro your forearm, without bending your wrist up or down at all. You should be able to see from looking if your hand is at an angle or follows on straight. If your wrist is pointing upwards or downwards too much, then the force of the punch will be pushing and bending your wrist.
Ideally when punching you want to ‘lock’ your wrist into place, almost stiffening the joint so it doesn’t bend or move accidentally. This is easy with straight punches, but people often forget to do this when throwing hooks, and end up bending their wrist to get a better angle on the hook, which can put too much pressure on the wrist. Make sure when you punch your wrist is always firmly held straight and use your arms and body rotation if you want to change the angle of the punch
Hand wraps and supportive boxing gloves will help keep your wrist straight, but if you can make sure it’s also a conscious thing then it helps to avoid any bad habits.
If you’ve followed the advice in this article then you should be able to work out what’s been causing you problems and avoid issues in future. If the pain is serious, or doesn’t stop then it might be time to talk to a qualified doctor or healthcare professional.