Wrist wraps are for the serious lifters who want to enhance their performance. Lifters love extra gear and accessories to improve their training techniques, from lifting heavier weights faster to balance skills, and wrist wraps are essential for this.
The types of people who wear wrist wraps include bodybuilders, crossfitters, powerlifters, weightlifters, and even baseball players.
Whether you are an experienced lifter or wanting to kickstart your lifting journey, wrist straps are a perfect addition to your gear kit!
There are a multitude of wrist wrap benefits, so here are the 5 main ones:
- Wrist wraps provide joint stability
- Faster return to lifting post-injury
- Improves grip
- Prevents lifting with fatigue
- Weights feel lighter
Amongst these benefits, we will show you how to wear wrist wraps properly, and what type of material is the best to look for.
1. Wrist Wraps Provide Joint Stability
The main purpose of wrist wraps is to provide stability to the wrist joints. Lifting any form of heavy item creates stress on the wrist if lifted incorrectly, which can create long lasting damage.
With objects such as dumbbells, there are multiple lifting exercises which have the potential to cause strain on your wrist joints in different ways. Even the slightest movement can create inflammation or injury, which could affect how you lift in the future.
Such wrist injuries can be as simple as a strain, but others can be more serious, including Carpal Tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, or even a fracture or break.
Wrist wraps work to prevent your wrist from rolling or bending when lifting a heavy weight.
They wrap around your wrist joint as a form of support, which will make moving your wrist harder - therefore will stop it from uncomfortably rolling or twisting under a weight.
Take squats as an example. Some lifters like to wear wrist wraps when they are squatting with a heavy weight, as this exercise can increase the chance of their wrists bending.
This stress on the joint, without wrist wraps, can cause pain further down the arm to the elbow and even shoulder.
2. Faster return to lifting post-injury
We know that wrist wraps provide support for the wrist joint to prevent injury, but they work in the same way with an injury. Obviously, if your wrist is seriously damaged then a wrist wrap will not let you immediately return to lifting, but they provide stability and security.
They will work to prevent further injury from happening, as they stop your wrist from rolling and moving badly.
Whilst wrist wraps do help the user return to lifting post-injury, remember that they will not cure or fix your injury. As with any injury, always check with your doctor before you start lifting, as they may recommend wrist wraps for extra support - or you need to rest even longer.
3. Improves Grip
Wrist wraps also work to improve physical grip. When your wrist joint is supported by something lightly squeezing it, your fingers naturally curve and bend over.
Wearing a wrist wrap will encourage your fingers to squeeze and hold the weight even tighter, which will give you more control, balance, and will encourage you to experiment with heavier weights.
This is one of the reasons why baseball players wear wrist wraps - because it encourages them to have a tighter hold to their bat, which allows for more control to hit and aim the ball.
The best way to wear a wrist wrap to improve your grip is to slip your thumb through the designated hole and clench your fist. You will then need to wrap the wrist wrap very tightly against the wrist joint, starting right at the bottom of your hand. This method will encourage your fist to remain semi-closed upon release, as there is more tension on the wrist joint.
4. Prevents Lifting With Fatigue
Exercise naturally exhausts your muscles, but not all at the same time. With exercises such as bodybuilding or Crossfit, multiple areas of the body are targeted at different times, so each muscle will be fatigued differently.
Muscles have a layer of protection to prevent them from tiring. They use a fiber that is created by the muscle tissue’s energy source called ATP - or adenosine triphosphate. This is basically sciencey language for “your muscles will get tired during exercise”.
The first muscles to become weakened are the smaller stabilizing muscles, including wrist joints and knees, and then the larger muscles will become fatigued.
Wrist wraps work to prevent your smaller stabilizing muscles (wrist joints) to fatigue so quickly. This will increase the longevity of your exercise, as it will stop the joints from weakening faster whilst encouraging them to strengthen in the process.
5. Weights Feel Lighter
The most obvious reason for weights feeling lighter with wrist wraps is because they work to strengthen your wrist joint, making it easier for you to train with heavier weights.
The least obvious reason, but the most important reason, is due to proprioception.
Proprioception is your body’s awareness of its movements. When lifting a weight or dumbbell, your body knows that it is heavy, so it will focus its energy on the muscles holding these objects.
What’s this got to do with wrist wraps? Well, remember what we said about how wrist wraps improve grip by forcing your fingers to curl and bend over? The tighter your hands are around a weight, the lighter it will feel because your muscles are more rigid.
Wrist wraps work hand-in-hand with proprioception, as they do half of the work for this awareness.
Your body will know to hold the weight with all of your muscles, but the wrist wraps are halfway there as they provide support to the wrist joints and force your fingers to hold weights tighter.
Think of it like this: a weighted object will always feel lighter with your fingers wrapped tightly around it, than if your fingers are loosely wrapped around it. More muscle rigidity = the lighter the weight!
This is incredibly beneficial for gaining confidence in weight lifting and other exercises, and will increase the rate of your training over time.
Purpose of Wrist Wraps
The main purpose of wrist wraps is the first benefit on our list - they protect the wrist joints by stabilizing them.
During heavy lifting and exercise in general, our muscles can be open to stress and strain if the exercise is not done correctly. Especially with lifting heavy weights, muscles are more likely to be affected by bending or rotating wrists.
Wrist wraps work to combat this, as they provide a stable security for the wrist joint to prevent it from straining and causing further injury.
They also work to combat unsafe or unhealthy habits that you may subconsciously do to make your exercises easier. By keeping your wrist joint stabilized, they retrain your wrist to lift weights properly and within your own time, rather than transitioning to heavier weights before you are ready to.
Do You Need Wrist Wraps?
If you are a beginner, wrist wraps aren’t really a necessity. This is because you need to build the muscle around your wrist joint without any stability help with the lowest weights, before introducing your joints to any stress.
In reality, you don’t actually need any equipment or gear to start your exercise journey - other than the gym equipment itself. Other weight lifting equipment includes squatting shoes, lifting belts or weighted vests and knee straps. These also aren’t necessary to start your exercise routine.
If your exercise journey continues, you will begin to notice that you will want to fasten the rate of your weight training. You may also notice that your wrists are becoming weaker. This is when wrist wraps are most beneficial, because they will kickstart your exercise by making it more interesting. They will make lifting weights easier, so you can progress to heavier weights. They will also help you experiment with other techniques without risking further strain or stress on your wrist joints.
Wrist wraps are an inexpensive addition to your exercise equipment if you are a serious lifter, or if you want to enhance your lifting performance.
Types of Wrist Wraps
There are two main sizes of wrist wraps, known as a 20 inch wrist wrap or a 36 inch wrist wrap.
20 Inch Wrist Wraps
20 inch wrist wraps are more commonly used by beginners and those who do a variety of lifting sports and exercises, ranging from bodybuilding to Crossfit. This length will provide you with all for the support for activities and exercises in the gym.
This length is also recommended for women, men with smaller to average wrists and forearms, if you are a beginner or have been lifting for less than 5 years, if you want to use them for multiple exercises, or if you want them to help post-injury.
36 Inch Wrist Wraps
36 inch wrist wraps are almost exclusively for those who only powerlift. This is because they are designed for the heaviest of heavy lifting with the highest frequencies. They are mostly used by those who have over 5 years of lifting experience and are serious lifters.
This longer length is also recommended for people with larger forearms and wrists, if you are lifting the heaviest weights and loads, if you powerlift competitively, if you use other stiffening equipment such as lifting belts, and if you want to further improve your strength.
The two main materials for wrist wraps include cotton and a blend of polyester, elastic, and cotton.
Cotton wrist wraps aren’t generally the most recommended material, as it is probably the weaker material of the two. It will not provide enough support and stability to the wrist joint.
The polyester, elastic, and cotton blend provides more security as the elastic offers more stretchiness - meaning you can wrap it tighter around your wrist. Obviously the point of wrist wraps isn’t to be so tight that it stops the blood flow, but a loose wrist wrap is almost pointless. This blended material will be tighter, and therefore will help your wrist joint to withstand heavier weights.
Cotton wrist wraps are generally the cheapest, but the blended material wrist wraps are only slightly more expensive. In our opinion, the extra money spent on the higher quality wrist wraps is more beneficial for both your wallet and your wrist, as it will provide you with the best support possible.
How To Wear Wrist Wraps
This is really important, because wearing a wrist wrap incorrectly will render it almost completely useless.
There are several ways to wear a wrist wrap, but the most common form is really simple. All you need to do is put the thumb through the designated hole, and then wrap the rest of the wrap around your wrist, starting just at the bottom of your hand. It then gets wrapped around several times until you can connect it with velcro.
Make sure to wrap it around your wrist tightly, as although they are not comfortable, they will provide little support if they are loose!
Powerlifters tend to tie the wrist wraps higher up the hand, which is why they use longer wrist wraps. The wrap then goes further down the wrist. This provides more support for the heaviest of lifting, and prevents strain on the elbow.
We described it earlier in benefit #3, but clenching your fist whilst wrapping the wrist wrap around will help to provide tension to improve the quality and strength of your grip, which will in turn make lifting easier.
Wrist wraps are an awesome piece of equipment for those looking to enhance their lifting performance. Although we have listed the top 5 benefits of wearing wrist wraps, you will find that there are actually multiple more benefits to them.
The best wrist wraps for lifting will provide your wrist joints with stability and safety, increase the rate of your training, prevent your muscles from early fatigue, and can be a wonderful support for those with mild wrist injuries.