Have you ever injured your knuckles while punching a punching bag or while boxing?
It happens to everyone who’s into boxing, kickboxing, or other martial arts at some point.
However, there are a few things that you can do to protect your knuckles while boxing in the future. This article will give you some quick tips on what to do to save your hands.
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1. Wear boxing gloves
The most obvious way to protect your knuckles is to wear boxing gloves. The foam padding on the gloves will help protect your hand from injury.
Boxing gloves come in a huge variety of weights and sizes. The size you need will depend on how you train.
For example, 5 ounce gloves are for mixed martial arts (MMA). They provide decent protection to your knuckles from cuts and scrapes. Injuries will probably occur while using a punching bag for an extended period of time.
MMA gloves simply do not have the necessary amount of padding to protect your knuckles.
16 ounce boxing gloves offer the most protection to your knuckles. In fact, you should always use boxing gloves while doing any type of work with a heavy bag.
The other advantage of 16 ounce gloves is that they will make your punch stronger and faster. This is much more noticeable when you throw a punch while you are not wearing 16 ounce gloves.
2. Use a leather or vinyl punching bag
Punching bags come in leather, vinyl, or canvas. If you want to save your knuckles, then use a either leather or vinyl punching bag.
Canvas bags will rip your skin if you do not use gloves (you should always use gloves anyway) because of their rough texture. These bags also will destroy your gloves much faster.
Furthermore, even with gloves a canvas bag puts you at greater risk due to the thickness of the canvas. You might not hurt your hand after one punch. However, repeated use over time may cause injuries.
You should also use a hanging bag for punches instead of a standing bag. Standing bags have much more resistance. Sometimes it feels like you are punching a wall if the standing bag has too much resistance. This may lead to injuries.
Hanging bags will move as you punch them. This makes them great for training. It also makes them much easier on the hands.
3. Wrap your hands
Contrary to popular belief, boxers wrap their hands to protect their wrists and hands. Not to add extra padding to their knuckles. The boxing glove protects the knuckles.
Hand wrapping serves mostly to keep all the bones found in the hand in place. A punch will compress the different bones together, which can cause a fracture.
Remember, each hand has 27 bones. This means a lot of opportunity for something to go wrong and cause an injury.
Furthermore, injuring a bone in your hand is a much more common occurrence than a normal knuckle injury.
For example, if you throw a punch while wearing 16 ounce boxing gloves, then you will most likely not injure your knuckles. You might injure a bone in your hand though.
180 inch elastic hand wraps should work fine for most scenarios. You still must know how to wrap your hands. A training partner could wrap your hands if you are unsure how to do it.
Here’s a great video with a detailed method for wrapping your hands for boxing and other martial arts:
4. Use proper technique
Proper punching technique was alluded to in the last point. It can definitely reduce the chances that you injure yourself. The most common injury from bad punching form is a broken 4th or 5th metacarpal, which usually damages the knuckle as well.
This makes learning proper punching technique imperative. It is the best way, other than wearing a boxing glove, to ensure that your knuckles stay safe.
Now, throwing a proper punch is somewhat complicated. Hand wraps will help you maintain form during contact by keeping your wrist straight. Knowing proper form is still important though.
The most important thing to remember when throwing a punch is to keep your fist tight. This will keep you from dislocating a finger.
Also, do not tuck your thumb inside your fingers. You will break your thumb if you do that.
Only following those two steps will make your punch stronger. More importantly, it will reduce the chances of an injury.
5. Practice punching more often
Have you ever wondered how professional boxers can land a knockout haymaker to their opponent’s chin without breaking, or even injuring, their own hand?
Well, this is because professional boxers have stronger hand bones than the average person. They weren’t born this way either. The bones in their hand have actually become stronger because they repeatedly break those bones.
They do not actually break their hand in the way you probably think though. A small micro fracture occurs on the bones in the hand after every punch. The body recovers from this micro fracture by adding a layer of calcium to the bone.
This layer of calcium strengthens the bone. A professional boxer may repeat this micro fracture process thousands of times in their life, which is why they have extremely strong hands.
Now, this same fracturing and rebuilding process happens with everyone. Granted, you will probably not throw as many punches as professional boxer. However, if you keep training, then your knuckles will become much stronger.
Protecting your knuckles while boxing is important. Especially because a hand injury can keep you out of the gym for months.
Using boxing gloves, hand wraps, and proper technique should keep you safe most of the time.
I would guess that most knuckle injuries because the boxer was not using gloves. This seems especially common with inexperienced boxers training on a punching bag without gloves. You should always wear boxing gloves while working on a punching bag.
The next most common cause of an injury is probably bad form. Proper punching form is beyond the scope of this article.
A good boxing instructor can teach you proper punching technique.
Don’t have a great instructor? Check out this video for some punching tips: