Many elite athletes, gym goers, and everyone in between utilizing progressive overload to lift weights have probably used or thought about utilizing wrist wraps. They can help better grip barbells and various machine handles, and at heavier weights, can help stabilize the wrist to better prevent injury. If you are in that wide swath of trainees, are you using your wrist wraps properly?
That’s what strongman Mitchell Hooper addressed on his YouTube channel on Feb. 9, 2023. He published a short video wherein he explained how to use wrist wraps effectively during training. Check it out below:
Hooper showcased his wrist mobility as an example of how over time, scar tissue builds up that can limit the wrists’ range of motion. Similarly, when loading sufficiently heavy weight, particularly on a barbell, the wrist can be stressed beyond its full range of motion impinging the joint and potentially leading to injury or inability to effectively perform the intended lift.
According to Hooper, wrist wraps have two primary functions:
- stabilize the wrist joint
- stabilize the ulna and radius to limit rotation — the bones in the forearm that comprise the wrist joint (there are eight other bones in the wrist)
Rather than wrap the finger sling of the wrist wrap around his pinky (not all wrist wraps have this, but many do), Hooper grips it with his pinky before wrapping the wrap three times around the wrist. The first wrap is directly over the joint. The second wrap is slightly above the joint. The third wrap is back down slightly below the joint. The pressure of the wrap around the wrist should be “nice and tight.”
The tightness of the wrap should apply enough pressure that when a barbell would otherwise pin the wrist back, the wrap takes that tension instead, leaving the wrist in a more stable position.
For the heavy dumbbell specifically — a strongman-specific event — Hooper employs a different strategy for wrapping his wrist. When the heavy dumbbell is in the rack position on the shoulder, the wrist turning up is important for grip and stability before pressing the weight overhead. As such, Hooper wraps the wrist wrap off the wrist and over the forearm just below the wrist. This protects his forearm while holding the dumbbell.