Wrist wraps are a funky accessory that have become increasingly popular among weightlifters, cross-trainers (can't legalllly say you know.. Cross...) and gym rats.
These little guys may look like a fashion statement, but they actually can serve a purpose to millions of weightlifters every day. So, how do you use them, how do you use them correctly, and should you even bother?
If you don't know, well that's why you're here right? Don't worry, we got you and your wrists covered (literally) and will deliver a few laughs along the way.
First things first, what are wrist wraps? Traditionally, wrist wraps are strips of fabric that wrap around your wrist to provide support during weightlifting exercises. They come in various lengths and widths, and some even have fancy designs on them (because why not look stylish while lifting weights?).
In addition, wrist wraps come in a variety of materials, but most common material is a knit-woven elastic and the stiffness and softness are far spread throughout the variety of wraps you can purchase online today.
Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty of whether or not you should even use wrist wraps. The answer is... it depends. Sorry, we know that's not a very satisfying answer, but hear us out.
According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, wrist wraps can help reduce wrist extension during heavy lifts for experienced weightlifters with previous wrist injuries. So, if you fall into that category, wrist wraps may be a good option for you.
But... But... how do you know if you're lifting heavy enough to actually benefit from wrist wraps? 😦
Well... similar to if you you should use wrist wraps, the answer is it depends.
While there is no formal research on how much you should bench, or what percentage of your body weight do you need to bench press before considering wrist wraps, our recommendation here at PROTECHT is the following:
- If you have wrist pain, you should wear wrist wraps when lifting.
- If you are bench pressing at a lower rep, higher weight rep range
- Typically if the most you can do of a weight is 5 reps, then yeah... please consider using wrist wraps.
- If you are doing hypertrophy (high rep work) with any sorts of pauses, wrist wraps can be helpful to reduce strain for longer sets.
In addition, through our own research here at PROTECHT, we've interviewed hundreds of weightlifters and many that use a smartwatch or a fitness tracker have avoided using wrist wraps out of wanting to track their workouts.
So if you fall into that category, we encourage you to look at our Apple Watch friendly wrist wraps here so you can keep tracking your workout, no matter how heavy you lift. (You can also read How to Wear Wrist Wraps With Apple Watch)
But, if you're just starting out and don't have any wrist issues, you may not need wrist wraps yet. It's important to listen to your body and only use wrist wraps if you feel like they will benefit you.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about how to use traditional wrist wraps correctly.
Step 1: Choose the right length and width. Wrist wraps come in various lengths and widths, so it's important to choose the right one for your needs. If you're looking for more support, choose a longer wrap. If you have smaller wrists, a narrower wrap may be a better option.
Step 2: Position the wrap correctly. The wrap should be positioned so that it covers the back of your hand and wraps around your wrist. The end of the wrap should be placed on the palm side of your wrist.
Note: If you do not do Step 2 correctly, you risk having the wrist wrap be a fashion accessory more than a wrist support.
Step 3: Wrap the wrist. Start wrapping the fabric around your wrist, making sure to keep it tight but not too tight. You want to make sure that you can still move your wrist comfortably.
Step 4: Secure the wrap. Once you have wrapped the wrist, secure the end of the wrap by tucking it under the previous layer of fabric. Make sure it's tight enough so that it doesn't come undone, but not so tight that it cuts off circulation.
Step 5: Lift! You're now ready to lift weights with your wrist wraps on. Make sure to continue to use proper form and technique, and only use the wraps if you feel like they are providing the support you need.
Now the PROTECHT Wraps do apply differently then typical wrist wraps, but are just as easy (if not easier) to put on. Unlike worrying about if you put them on correctly, our wraps are designed to prioritize a neutral wrist for ultimate stability while weightlifting and exercising.
So all in all, you may benefit from wrist wraps while lifting or you may not. This article is just one opinion backed by some resources to help you decide.
Even though it's not a black and white decision, one thing is clear, that if you use them then you better make sure that your wraps, whether ours or not, are protecting your wrist and helping you feel more stable to hit PRs.
Gulgin, H., & Hoogenboom, B. J. (2014). The effects of wrist wraps on wrist joint kinetics and kinematics during the back squat. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 28(1), 223-229.
Wilk, K. E., Reinold, M. M., & Andrews, J. R. (2012). Clinical efficacy of the addition of wrist mobilization to a standard rehabilitation protocol for patients with wrist extensor tendinosis: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 42(3), 173-181.