In today's world of Powerlifting, Weightlifting, CrossFit, etc. there are numerous types of accessories to buy and use. From Olympic Lifting shoes, wrist wraps, knee supports, back supports to name a few. These are some of the most common types of CrossFit, Olympic Lifting and power lifting gear you will find today's athletes using. One of the most commonly misunderstood and used accessories are the infamous wrist supports. The primary purpose of the wrist wraps is to support you when lifting weights that are greater than 50% of your one rep max. If the weight is too heavy, there is a chance for a sprain/strain injury. Some of you are maybe asking what the difference between a sprain and a strain injury, glad you asked is.
- A sprain injury is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament, the fibrous band of connective tissue that joins the end of one bone with another. Ligaments stabilize and support the body's joints. For example, ligaments in the knee connect the upper leg with the lower leg, enabling people to walk and run.
- A strain is an injury of a muscle and/or tendon. Tendons are fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscles to bone.
When performing bench press or Olympic lifts which include a snatch, clean & jerk, push press, etc. the wrists are stressed into what we call the extension position (See fig A.). Under extreme heavy loads, an athletes form can be compromised which could result in a wrist injury or not completing the lift. Many athletes in CrossFit wear wrist wraps but understanding how to use them correctly is important. Fig A.
7 Questions People Ask About Wearing Wrist Wraps
1. Do I Wear My Wrist Wraps All The Time?
No, I look at wrist supports like I do a back support. If you wear them all the time, you can develop weaknesses in your wrist flexor and extensor muscles. These muscles are what allow your wrist to bend forward (flexion) and backwards (extension). Look at some of the strongest athletes performing olympic lifts, are they wearing wrist wraps even at those extreme loads? No, they are not! It is good to have them but it is not necessary to wear them all the time. My opinion is a simple rule, anything less than 50% of your 1 rep max, I would advise that you don't use them. They are recommended to be used when you are training at or near your 1 RPM.
2. How Do I Position My Wrist Wraps?
The main goal of the wrist wraps are to provide wrist support so it is imperative to put them on correctly. I recommend using the "wrist crease" as a guide when putting them on. If the wraps are positioned below the "wrist crease" then you essentially have a pretty wrist bracelet. They should be near the "wrist crease" which will provide you support and help prevent excessive wrist extension.
3. What Wrist Wrap Do I Choose?
There are all kinds of wrist supports in the market and choosing the right one will be depend upon the type of movement you are trying to achieve. The are 2 types of wrist wraps we will be talking about.
- The TuffWraps Wrist Wraps which are lightweight and tend to be more flexible.
- The Villain Wrist Wraps use velcro and a "belt Loop tightening Sysytem" which are used in power-lifting to provide you with an increased support.
The TuffWraps Wrist Wraps are designed to be used for movements like snatches, clean & jerks, push press and thrusters which gives your wrist the range of motion needed. In the aforementioned movements your wrists must be able to go into the extension position when completing those movements.
The Villain Wrist Wraps are geared more for the powerlifting, strongman training, bench press and any max type of movements. They limit your wrist movements and with those types of exercises, wrist extension is not warranted.
4. Do I Need To Wear Wrist Wraps When Doing Gymnastic Movements?
No, I really never understood why people who do pullups, pushups or even hand stand pushup use wraps. The wrist is not stressed or put into a compromised position where it will be injured when doing gymnastic movements. If the wrist is hurting during these types of movements, then I would suggest stop and see a local sports chiropractor/doctor to evaluate and treat the problem. There is always an exception to the rule. Some people wear wrist wraps when a WOD has movements that intermix gymnastic and olympic movements. This is because it is a nuisance to put them on or take them off when going from one movement to the next.
5. Can I Wear My Wrist Wraps If I Have Mobility & Flexibility Issue?
Absolutely not, and the first thing is to work on improving your mobility and flexibility. There could be a mobility issue in different areas other than the wrist that may be contributing to your problem. If you suspect a mobility and/or flexibility problem talk to your coach at your gym and he or she should be able to see where your problem exist. They should be able to provide you with some mobility exercises and/or stretches to work on. If you do not go to a CrossFit gym, you can always go to MobilityWOD.com which is owned by Kelley Starrett. He is a Physical Therapist that has easy to understand videos about mobility and flexibility. You can also visit TheWodDoc for videos as well.
6. Are Tuffwraps Washable?
Yes, TuffWraps Wrist wraps & Villain Wrist Wraps are washable and we recommend washing them often. Just wash them in the sink and let them air dry.
One thing to keep in mind is that a gym is typically going to be dirty even though the floors and equipment may be cleaned daily. Add in your sweat and now you have the perfect storm for bacteria to grow. The wraps are a poly/cotton fabric and will absorb your sweat so it is important to take care of them. So please, wash your wraps!
7. Where Can I Buy Wrist Wraps?
Please visit our store to see what is available.
Villain Wrist Wraps - Velcro Style Wrist Wraps - Great for Powlerlifting, Weightlifting and Strongman Training.
TuffWraps Wrist Wraps - Cloth Stlye Wrist Wraps - Great for CrossFit and Olympic Lifting.
We are constantly coming up with new designs but we will never sacrifice performance for looks. Our goal is to make a strong supportive wrist wraps that allows you to perform those heavy movements.