Hand wraps may be cheap but they are as equally essential as any item in a Muay Thai fighter’s gear list. If you think you can train Muay Thai without proper wraps, you are either not punching as hard as you are capable of; or it’s a freaking hand injury time bomb waiting to happen. This is especially true for beginners training in the sport whose hands are yet to be conditioned. Hand injuries are no joke and can potentially put you out of training for a long time. Don’t settle with any random hand wraps and go for the best Muay Thai hand wraps instead. Your hands will thank you in the long run.
Why You Need to Wrap Your Hands for Muay Thai
Hand wraps offer some degree of protection for your knuckles but more importantly, for your wrists and the tiny bones in your hands. You see, your hands are made of many small carpal bones, tendons and cartilage which can be rather susceptible to injuries upon repetitive impact. The same goes for the wrists. It is true that the bones in the hands get stronger over time as you train BUT when you are punching some solid bags and pads regularly, hand injuries can -and will- happen at some point as a result of poor form or general wear and tear.
This where hand wraps come in. While they can’t prevent mishaps 100% of the time, they can certainly minimize the risks of injuries. Hand wraps protect a fighter’s hands by supporting the bone structure, keeping them stabilized and spreading any impact evenly. They also keep the wrists straight so that the wrists are protected from injuries caused as a result of bending at awkward angles upon impact.
You may try this experiment: Punch a heavy bag without wrapping your hands and then again with wraps on. You would be able to feel the difference in impact, especially if you go at it really hard. Without wrapping your hands, each impact feels more acute and pronounced to the extent of being uncomfortable. Be careful to not go at maximum power without wraps on as it might wreck your hands!
How to Wrap Your Hands
There are many variations to wrapping your hands. Some wrap their wrists first while others begin with the knuckles; some wrap their thumbs while others don’t. Most of us stick to the first wrapping method taught to us by our Kru or trainers which is also the best way to learn. YouTube videos (like this one here) are also a great resource. Learn one that wraps your wrists, knuckles and thumbs and you are all set for life.
The key is to make sure that the wraps feel snug but not overly tight as this will restrict your blood circulation. If your hands start feeling numb into your training, that’s a sign that you need to loosen up a little on the wrapping.
Hand Wraps for Muay Thai and Boxing
For day-to-day training, the most commonly used wraps are the cloth hand wraps with a hoop on one end and velcro on the other end. There are generally 2 variations of these cloth hand wraps: The semi-/elastic and nonelastic versions. Personally, I prefer the elastic ones as they contour and fit better on the hands. I did start out using stiff, nonelastic wraps as they were given to me as a gift when I signed up for the fight gym membership. I added another pair of hand wraps to the collection shortly after for rotation and incidentally, they were also nonelastic wraps. Now, the only reason I stucked with them for a few months was because I didn’t know any better. I did no research on hand wraps other than instructions on wrapping. When I did purchase a pair of semi-elastic wraps by pure chance, it was a moment of Eureka! There was no going back.
Lengthwise, the standard hand wrap length is 180” and should suffice for most hand sizes. If you want to feel more secure, you can go for the longer 200” hand wraps but some gloves with smaller hand compartments will then feel excessively snug. You should probably consider them only if you have hands of a giant. On the other end of the spectrum, there are junior wraps meant for teens and younger children that measure 120”. For your children’s safety, always make sure to wrap their hands for training.
Best Muay Thai Hand Wraps
So far, I have tried around 10 different brands of hand wraps including all the top Muay Thai brands. I am going to share with you my top 3 wraps that I use on a regular basis. The remaining 7 are not worth recommending so I am not really going to bother reviewing them here. Sure, some of the available options like Meister or Everlast might be cheaper but they come with problems like color bleeding, or weird smelling. Here are my top picks for the best Muay Thai hand wraps (because these are the wraps that I use on a daily basis):
The best quality yet. It almost feels like these hand wraps can last forever. Comparing Fairtex hand wraps compared to most hand wraps is like satin shorts vs nylon shorts. The weaving is vastly superior compared to all other brands I have tried. I have 2 pairs of Fairtex wraps and after a good wash, they look almost brand new. No problems of piling or color bleeding unlike most other wraps.
Now, there is one thing that takes a few points away from making them the perfect wraps. It’s the level of elasticity, which is somewhere between most elastic wraps and nonelastic wraps. If you want them taut, you have to tug it at each turn but it makes them a little too tight for comfort. As I have mentioned above, I prefer my wraps more elastic for the best support while not feeling overly taut.
In terms of the level of elasticity that I like, this is right at the top of the list. These wraps secure my hands and wrists at the snugness that I like. The elasticity makes them very easy to wrap the hands securely and you feel very confident to throw harder punches when your hands are well-protected like this.
Quality-wise, they aren’t as durable as Fairtex and are pretty susceptible to pilling. The fabric seems to stick to velcro on the gloves more easily than other hand wraps and this further contributes to the pilling problem. I would just be a little more careful when putting on gloves and throwing these in laundry bags to wash, so as to prolong their lifespan. Overall, I would still rank these as my top choice
I have had quite a number of enquiries on where to get these so far. Freaking snakeskin hand wraps, how cool is that? They are however, a little stiffer than the other entries on this list, with little stretch. The fabric is a little thinner than most but this makes them more breathable too. The colors fade after repeated wash more apparently than the 2 brands above. Quality-wise, I would not rank them very highly. But again, snakeskin print is just too damn awesome to not buy them. So, buy them! If snakeskin print isn’t quite your thing, Title has a great range of other exciting prints too.
How to Wash Your Hand Wraps
One reason hand wraps would stink is due to your stinky gloves. The insides of your gloves gather odor-causing germs over time from cumulative usage and the stench transfers over to your hand wraps. The main reason, however, is a lot more pervasive. Hand wrap stink because some people just don’t wash them as regularly as they should. Try using them for a week or two without washing and airing and the stench is powerful enough to raise the dead. I find a wash every 1-3 training sessions is a reasonable frequency.
If you throw your wraps into the washing machine, they are going to get entangled with the rest of the laundry after a spin. The alternative is to hand wash your wraps, which I did initially. If you train regularly, this becomes a very cumbersome task. I recommend putting the wraps in a laundry bag before throwing them into the washing machine. You can get a general laundry bag or a dedicated wraps bag by Meister for this purpose and both will do the job equally well. This prevent entangling and minimizes pilling.
There is one thing to take note of: beware of color bleeding. This can be a problem particularly with neon-colored wraps. From my own experience, the bright or neon colors tend to bleed easily. If you wash them with your light colors or whites, they can cause some serious staining. Wash with like colors, or give them a few rinse manually before throwing into the machine.
And it’s a wrap! If you haven’t been wearing hand wraps for training, that’s a dangerous trap you are falling into. Take no chances, I say. Without strong healthy hands, you may have to downgrade to non-pugilistic combat sports like Taekwondo or something. Wrap them and wrap them good.