Can You Do Boxing Without Hand Wraps?

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Hand wraps are a common staple in preparing your hands before wearing boxing gloves, it’s intended to stabilize your wrists and add extra protection. But can you go without them?

You shouldn’t do boxing without hand wraps in regular boxing gloves. Hand wraps when used correctly help with adding stability to your wrist and also remove dead space inside the glove which can contribute to injuries.

But there are some newer boxing glove technologies that don’t need hand wraps at all, keep reading to find out all about them.

Don’t do boxing without hand wraps in typical gloves

A man getting ready to box without wraps or gloves

You should always wear hand wraps when boxing and before putting on your gloves (for the most part).

The hand wraps will add extra protection for your wrists and remove the space in the glove which otherwise causes unwanted movement that can lead to problems.

Most boxing gloves are made with the same functionality in mind, so there is usually a little extra space to allow for hand wraps.

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Also, the size of the glove (12 oz, 14 oz, 16 oz) doesn’t necessarily correlate to it being a better fit for a smaller or bigger hand.

I’ve worn gloves at 10 oz, 12 oz, 14 oz, and 16 oz and experienced different spaciousness, regardless of size.

Most 10-12 oz gloves offer a tighter fit, but I’ve also worn 16 oz gloves that felt much tighter than my 14 oz Fairtex BGV14.

The point is that whichever glove size you pick you could still end up with this extra dead space inside the glove between your hands and the inner materials.

X-ray of dead space inside a boxing glove
Image courtesy of ONX Sports. Used with permission.

The dead space inside a glove is space for movement when using them. The ideal glove is one that covers every inch of your fist and wrist that is inside the glove to leave no spaces.

When there’s no extra space in the glove, you’re hitting your full impact from your fist and through the glove without accidental shifting.

If your glove is constantly shifting around when you’re landing strikes, then you’re opening up for the possibility to twist your fist or wrist in an awkward movement that can cause injury after repetitive errors.

So this is why you need hand wraps, most of the time, to fill in any dead space and ensure there isn’t any pockets of air between your hand and the glove.

The hand wraps are also likely to help add extra padding over your knuckles and offer stability between your hand and wrist, which is also key.

Problems from boxing without wraps

A woman punching a heavy bag with her fists and no hand wraps

If you box without wearing hand wraps but wearing oxing gloves, you can expect your hands to move around inside the glove a lot.

You might even notice that the gloves rotate around your wrist more than usual. Eventually, doing this will lead to injured wrists and scuffed knuckles.

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Boxing without hand wraps is perfectly fine for shadow boxing and some people will even punch the heavy bag without wearing any hand wraps or gloves.

But it’s important to know your limitations and use your hands safely.

You could punch the heavy bag without wearing hand wraps if you’re working on speed drills and not putting power behind your strikes.

Using your bare knuckles on the bag can also help to develop some resistance in the soft tissue in your hands.

But it’s also a risky thing to do since the small bones of the hand are so easily fractured.

It’s a really common problem for beginners to suffer from scuffed knuckles and sore wrists when they first get into boxing. So applying your wraps properly is helpful to resisting any problems.

Problems with regular hand wraps

Traditional boxing gloves are quite poorly designed to protect the hands and wrists of boxers, even with hand wraps.

There’s a really good reason why boxers will have their hands professionally wrapped for a fight. It’s the best way to add properly supportive wrapping that is customized to the athlete’s hands.

Army boxer getting hands wrapped professionally
SSgt Araceli Alarcon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Professional wrapping keeps the wrist linked tightly to the rest of the hand which creates a stronger support through strikes.

The last thing you want is your wrist bending or turning, and professional wrapping will reduce this well.

But for regular folk who are just trying to get ready for some boxing classes or light sparring, professional wrapping isn’t an option as it is costly, takes time, and requires someone with those skills to do it.

And so the simple alternative for many many years has been to use hand wraps.

The slight elastic material of hand wraps allows you to wrap them tightly around your hands over and over until they are snug.

It offers some extra padding between your hands and the gloves, and a bit extra support across the wrist if applied well.

But regular hand wraps really are not a decent solution for protecting your hands and wrists.

If you want to actually reduce the impact on to the delicate bones and ligaments of your hands and wrists, then consider something that uses the latest in glove technology and that is actually designed to protect these bones and muscles.

Boxing gloves that don’t need hand wraps

Top MMA coach and founder of ONX Sports, Trevor Wittman developed his own boxing glove design that molds to an athlete’s hand and doesn’t need boxing gloves.

There have been two main versions that became popular with professional fighters. The first is the ONX X-Factor:

ONX X-Factor Boxing Glove

The original Trevor Wittman training glove that offers one of the best X-strapping for professional fighters.

Check ONX Price

Later, they improved the technology further to come up with the ONX X-4:

X-4 Velcro Training Glove by ONX Sports

These extraordinary wrap-less gloves are designed to provide elite wrist, carpal, and metacarpal bone protection unlike any other.

Buy on ONX Sports Read our review

These are boxing gloves for training that don’t require hand wraps at all because they’re designed to tighten securely around the hand with an X-shaped strapping over the back of the hand.

The setup for them also usually involves using a hairdryer to apply some heat before putting your hand inside so that it can get an initial molding to your hand shape and size.

With this kind of attention to detail for fighters, it’s likely that many more fight brands will follow a similar path in ingenuity.

Final word: Are wraps necessary?

The bottom line is that wearing hand wraps during boxing is necessary with regular gloves if you care about keeping yourself injury-free.

Many fighters-in-training disregard learning how to wrap their hands properly and end up not wearing them at all. This always ends badly, so take the time to learn how to wrap your hands:

Once upon a time, the UFC didn’t use gloves as there were almost zero rules around what you could or could not wear when it first began.

But that likely wouldn’t go down very well today because fighters would break their hands every single fight.

Gloves (whether for boxing or MMA) are there to protect your hands, not your opponent’s face.

If, like me, you think hand wraps should be a thing of the past, you might want to consider some of the newer technology and no-wraps-necessary boxing gloves.

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