This is a common question I get from new weight lifters, and even experienced lifters who recently started lifting heavier weights. If you go into a gym you may see a few people wearing wrist wraps. Some wear wrist wraps due to wrist pain while lifting, and others just wear it for support/protection. You may even see that one guy who has no idea why he is wearing wrist wraps, he just hopped on the bandwagon. However, there are many different reasons one may choose to wear wrist support when lifting. When I go to the gym I even see people who wear wrist support during their entire workout. Whereas, others will just put on wrist wraps prior to doing a heavy lift. Make sure to read my article if you have wrist pain during shoulder press.
Back when I first began weightlifting, I often saw big guys in the gym wearing wrist wraps. So, I originally thought it was something everyone should use when lifting weights. It wasn’t until I became more experienced and realized the reasons people use wrist support. The wrist joint is a very unique joint which allows us to move our hand in multiple directions. The wrist can even support very heavy weights. However, the wrist joint was not designed to be a weight-bearing joint. Which means they were not designed for lifting extremely heavy weights over our heads or designed to be walked on. This does not mean lifting heavy weights or walking on your hands is bad for your wrists. I am just saying the joint was not necessarily designed for that type of workload. That is where wrist support comes into play. In this article I will be discussing the main types of wrist support for weightlifting. Also, the anatomy of the wrist and when one may choose to use wrist support while lifting.
The Main Types of Wrist Support
Listed above are a few of the main types of wrist wraps to use for weight lifting. I recommend these in particular because they are heavy duty and designed to be worn for tough workouts and will last. I have used cheap wrist wraps in the past, and after a few workouts they will be falling apart and are not very supportive. It is important to make sure the product is durable, comfortable, and doesn’t restrict your range of motion. Some wrist support is too bulky and will restrict your wrist mobility.
The wrist wraps listed above are high quality elastic meaning they will achieve higher levels of tightness and will be more supportive. Also, it is important to ensure they are a good length. The ones listed above are typically 36″ in length which is ideal. Longer wraps provide more adjustability and more support compared to shorter wraps. If you are used to wearing weight lifting gloves then consider the pair listed above which includes added wrist support. However, if you only put on the wrist wraps prior to a heavy lift consider a heavy duty pair like the Stoic Wrist Wraps.
Should You Wear Wrist Support?
Yes, you should wear wrist support when lifting if you are going to be lifting heavy weights overhead or doing other weight-bearing exercises such as handstand push-ups or handstand walks. This is mainly due to the fact that the wrist is not a weight bearing joint. Meaning, it has very little support and cushioning built within the joint to take heavy loads. Unlike the knee joint, which is meant to support our bodyweight and includes cushioning like capabilities such as the meniscus. However, the wrist joint does not contain any specific cartilage to support heavy loads like the knee or hip does. That is why it is important to protect your wrists.
I recommend wearing wrist support such as the ones listed above when performing heavy overhead lifts or handstand type movements. However, I don’t think it is necessary to wear wrist wraps for an entire workout or for every lift. This will lead to your wrist becoming reliant on wrist support for everything you do. It is important to maintain the proper strength and range of motion through the wrist. If you are constantly wearing wrist support then your wrist could weaken, and become dependent on the support.
Anatomy of the Wrist
You can see in this image just how unique the wrist joint truly is. The wrist is composed of 8 small individual bones which move and articulate with each-other. This allows our wrist to move up/down, side to side, and around in a circular motion. These 8 small carpal bones sit between the forearm bones (radius/ulna) and the bones of the hand (metacarpals). So the carpal bones are very important, and is the reason we are able to have so much mobility of our hand! Did you know the human hand consists of 27 bones?
However, you can see that the wrist has very little support built within. These small bones are capable of producing lots of motion, but are not very stable. Typically, when joints produce lots of motion they are not as stable compared to joints that do not produce as much motion. Consider the foot and ankle, that is why ankle sprains are so common.I have seen numerous experienced weight lifters who injure theirs wrists while lifting heavy weights. You do not want your wrist to be the limited factor when doing an overhead press. So, remember the anatomy of the human wrist next time you go to perform a workout!
Although, it can be uncomfortable and may not look the coolest it is important to protect your wrist when performing heavy lifts. Nothing is cool about straining your wrist and then not being able to workout for 6-8weeks! Like I said earlier, I do not think everyone needs to wear wrist support. However, if you are performing heavy lifts overhead or doing movements like handstands then I would consider purchasing a good pair of wrist wraps. Especially if you have wrist pain during certain movements like the bench press or shoulder press, then you should wear wrist support during those movements.