How To Tape Your Hands For MMA 2021 (The Ultimate Guide)🥊✊🏆

There is a common misconception among novice fighters and spectators that taping the hands before a fight is done to add an extra layer of padding underneath the gloves to increase the force of the punches thrown. This is incorrect. 

A lot of people ask the question about how to tape your hands for MMA, but the most important question is why. The objective here is to protect the knuckles, hands, and wrists and allow it to absorb the shock from the repetitive impact sustained throughout a fight.  

A prevalent injury in fighters is known as a “boxer’s fracture”, which is associated with landing a punch on a sturdy object, like a skull or jaw, which causes the more fragile bones in hand to break.

This type of injury cannot be entirely prevented, but properly wrapping your hands before a fight can significantly improve your chances of avoiding injuries throughout your hands and wrists. We go deep on how to tape your hands for MMA so you can have a longer career with fewer injuries to your key assets.

how to tape your hands for mma
Case courtesy of Assoc Prof Frank Gaillard, Radiopaedia.org. From the case rID: 7544

It might be obvious that every fighter, from the amateur to the professional level, dedicates time to guarantee their primary weapons, their hands, are prepared before every practice or fight. But what may not be so clear is the proper technique used to apply hand wraps, gauze, and tape and when is it appropriate to use just hand wraps versus when is it more beneficial to wrap the hands in gauze and tape. While a lot of fighters out there often have the best mouth guards, or the best MMA shoes they forget the importance of hand wrapping.  

Check out the break down below to help you decide how to wrap your hands before your next training session or fight.  

How To Tape Your Hands For MMA With Hand Wraps

How do MMA fighters wrap their hands?

Hand wraps are typically used by MMA fighters and recreational athletes during practice or when hitting the heavy bag because they can be used repeatedly, don’t require a lot of time or expertise to apply, and still, offer a decent level of protection and shock absorption to the hands for hitting pads or sparring. After practice, they can be rolled up so they can be used at the next training session.  

Getting used to wearing MMA hand wraps is a good way to be comfortable both in training and in the fight as it won’t feel awkward and uncomfortable when you need to focus on your fight game, so make sure you come prepared with the right gear when you pack your gym bag for MMA.

Learning how to tape your hands for MMA will not only help you, but will help you teach others that are more junior than you which is rewarding and builds a community spirit.

Before you start wrapping your hands watch the video below to learn how to correctly wrap your hands using fabric or elastic hand wraps 👇

When wrapping your hands there are few things to keep in mind:  

  • Be sure that the wrap is applied tightly to keep your knuckles and wrist stabilized but make sure you can still comfortably close and open your fist 
  • Ensure the wrap isn’t too constricting or cutting off circulation to your fingers and  
  • Check to see if the wrap is free from folds as this will cause the wrap to come undone  
  • Secure the wrap in place with the Velcro strap at the end of the wrap 
  • Throw a few punches to ensure the wrap feels suitable and doesn’t unravel or loosen    

When and How-To Wrap Your Hands Using Gauze and Tape

Wrapping your hands using gauze and tape, like you’ll see professional fighters do just before sliding on gloves, are far more stable and reliable than cloth or elastic hand wraps but they also require a higher level of experience to be applied correctly and efficiently.  

There are a few reasons why good old fashion gauze and tape is the preferred hand wrapping method for higher-level fighters.  

  1. Gauze is lighter and more breathable than typical cloth or elastic hand wraps making it far more comfortable underneath boxing of MMA gloves. Gauze is also more shock absorbent than other materials used for hand wraps.  
  2. Gauze is lighter and more breathable than typical cloth or elastic hand wraps making it far more comfortable underneath boxing of MMA gloves. Gauze is also more shock absorbent than other materials used for hand wraps.  
  3. Gauze is lighter and more breathable than typical cloth or elastic hand wraps making it far more comfortable underneath boxing of MMA gloves. Gauze is also more shock absorbent than other materials used for hand wraps.  

Typically, unless you’re like UFC Fighter Dustin Poirier, you won’t be the one wrapping your hands before a fight. But that doesn’t mean you won’t need to know the intricate step-by-step process of wrapping your hands which is explained in detail here (Youtube Source). A good hand wrap leaves you feeling confident that your knuckles, hands, and wrists are protected with every punch you throw. 

Differences in Hand Wraps for Boxing and MMA and Other Combat Sports 

All fighters, regardless of whether they’re competing in mixed martial arts, traditional boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing or even bare-knuckle boxing, wrap their hands before stepping foot into the ring or cage. However, not all hand-wrapping methods are created equal and each style has its unique advantages and disadvantages.  

Some people that are newer to combat sports will have some questions that may seem obvious but are worth taking the time to make sure you understand. “Do you wrap your hands under MMA gloves?” is a question often asked, the answer is yes. The hand must be fully protected prior to putting on the 4oz gloves before a fight.

As you can probably imagine, a boxer, kickboxer, or Muay Thai fighter is more willing to sacrifice finger dexterity to protect his or her knuckles as most of their offensive movements will involve closed fists; except for the clinch in Muay Thai.  

An MMA fighter, especially one who specializes in wrestling or grappling, will need freedom throughout their hands to throw punches but must also be able to grab their opponent for takedowns and to execute submissions. What they lack in padding around the knuckles, they make up for in finger mobility.  

Although the name, “bare-knuckle boxing” leads you to believe that the fighters will have completely bare hands, most fighters will have a thin layer of gauze or wrap around their palm and wrist to lock the down the wrist during the fight. Bare-knuckle fighters are usually not permitted to have an additional form of padding on the knuckles. 

guide on how to tape hands for MMA
MMA Hand Wraps

Can You Hit A Heavy Bag With Just Hand Wraps?

When punching a heavy bag, it is recommended to use small 4oz gloves but hand wraps can work too. It’s very important to be careful that you aren’t punching anywhere near your full power with just hand wraps as there is an increased chance of injury to the knuckles, and especially the wrist. Proper technique and care should be taking when throwing heavy and hard shots at the heavy bag as the repercussions could cause long-lasting pain.

The MMA hand wraps will protect the skin on your knuckles and partially the wrist when hitting the heavy bag with just hand wraps. It is bad to hit the heavy bag every day with this method as you aren’t allowing enough time for the muscles and tissue to recover from such heavy shots – which again can lead to injury to your most vital assets. Learning how to tape your hands for MMA is crucial to ensuring you can frequently hit the heavy bag and build strength and power.

The benefit of using the heavy bag regularly is that it will improve your technique, form, and understand of punch mechanics. Unlike shadow boxing, you are able to feel where the punch lands, the effect of the impact, and the force generated.