How to Avoid Wrist Pain When Punching a Heavy Bag

I get pain in my wrist after heavy bag punching. Any tips for any exercises or something to avoid the pain?

You throw that power shot and something just doesn’t line up correctly, instantly you get that horrible shooting pain throughout your wrist. Wrist injuries suck, especially for a boxer. When you’ve injured your wrist it’s absolutely paramount that you take the time required to allow it heal. Some boxers are prone to hand and wrist injuries, just ask the Floyd Mayweather Junior. If you are prone to these types of injuries, it’s advisable to adapt your style to your own natural strengths and weaknesses. Learn to rely more on snap and speed than following through on your punches.

Prevention is Better Than Cure:

Injury prevention is the first line of defense. Equipment, technique and the correct exercises can all contribute to injury avoidance in both the long and short term. Small injuries caused by incorrect technique can compound over time and lead to nagging pains and be the underlying causes of more significant injuries. In the following few paragraphs we will cover specifically how to avoid hurting your wrists in the first place.

Using the Right Bag:

Using a top quality heavy bag at the right weight for you will dramatically reduce your chances of sustaining a bad wrist injury. Throwing powerful shots at a bag with no movement in it, will place an unnecessary amount of pressure on your wrists, it’s a recipe for an injury. Carefully select your bag when purchasing one and ensure that the weight is correct for you.

A Red Pro Boxing 35lb Punching Bag

A Red Pro Boxing 35lb Punching Bag

Always Use Wraps & Learn To Wrap Your Hands Correctly:

Every time I see someone throw on a pair of boxing gloves and hitting the heavy bag without wrapping up, I cringe. It’s an injury waiting to happen. Boxing wraps, particularly the traditional cotton low stretch variety support the wrist and enable you to align your fist, wrist, and forearm correctly. If you are unsure on how to best wrap your hands, check out YouTube or ask your coach.

Use The Right Gloves For The Job:

Always try to use a high-quality pair of 12 or 14 oz gloves when hitting the heavy bag. The additional padding will help to diffuse some of the impacts that can punish your wrists during a heavy bag session.

Using Correct Technique:

Here’s a quick lesson, boxing 101, the basics are vital, not only for developing an effective boxing style but also for injury prevention. Aligning your knuckles, hand, wrist, and forearm correctly is incredibly important. Punching with your first two knuckles and align them with your wrist and forearm so that the bones stack as a singular unit. Curve your first two knuckles too far inward and you will likely pick up a wrist injury as well as lose a lot of power on your punches. Make a habit of connecting with your bottom knuckles and you’ve got a boxer’s fracture waiting to happen.

Jermell Charlo, the WBC Super Welterweight Champ of the World Demonstrating His Technique on a Pro Boxing Bag

Jermell Charlo, the WBC Super Welterweight Champ of the World, Demonstrating His Technique on a Pro Boxing Bag

A big issue that beginners have when starting their boxing journey, is the tendency to push as opposed to snap their punches. Initially, it can feel like you are generating more power as you push through the bag, using your body weight and shoulders to generate force. Novices intuitively feel that this is the best method to generate optimum power. Just watch 10 minutes of Mike Tyson working a heavy bag and you’ll see that the reality is very different. As Tyson connects at the moment of impact, his fist instantly changes direction and travels the exact path it came in on, back to his guard with lightning speed. This whipping motion is where real knockout power lives. Not only does applying the correct technique improve your power, it also allows you to maintain balance if you do not connect with the opponent, improve the fluidity/speed of your combinations and enhance your defense. Drill the basics and truly perfect them.

Developing Wrist Strength:

Wrists are quite difficult to strengthen, due to the fact that they have little muscle mass. Wrists are predominantly tendons and bone. If you box with the correct technique and equipment these tendons and bones will strengthen solely through boxing training. However, there are a few resistance techniques which can be applied to enhance wrist strength. Farmers walks with heavy dumbbells and barbell wrist curls can improve wrist strength significantly when consistently trained. Other bodyweight exercises such as push ups and pull ups can also be highly effective in developing wrist strength over time.

Recovering From A Wrist Injury:

The very first thing to do is stop hitting the heavy bag and give your wrist some time to recover. This is paramount. It doesn’t mean you have to stop training completely, you can still shadow box and do other exercises which do not stress your wrists. Listen to your body and do not consistently train in a way that causes you pain.

Contrast Hydrotherapy Therapy to Assist Recovery:

For those of us which don’t have a state of the art cryotherapy unit, contrast hydrotherapy is reported to be effective at speeding up recovery and reducing pain. It’s basically a fancy word for alternating hot and cold water on the strained body part, this seems to be effective with bringing down swelling and inflammation. You can do this at home in a sink or shower until your wrist has recovered. It’s a simple, cheap and effective way to reduce pain and inflammation.

To Wrap It Up:

We’ve covered everything you need to know; the equipment you need, ways to strengthen your wrists, the technique you need to master and some ways to improve your recovery. If you apply what you’ve read in this article it’s likely that you can train pain-free when working the heavy bag. If pain persists after applying these tips, then please speak to your coach and go to the doctor. There are a few different conditions which would require professional diagnosis which could be contributing or causing your pain.

Train hard, train smart, train safe.

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