Training

Do You Need Elbow & Wrist Wraps?


Do You Use Weight Lifting Wraps?


Wrist and elbow wraps and straps are commonplace in gyms where heavier lifting takes place. You rarely see a mass gainer or powerlifter without some form of support from time to time.

But do you need them? And, if so, when and why?

As with knee wraps, which can see your maximum squats boosted by a considerable amount, strapping your elbows don’t make you stronger, but rather provides a crutch. What’s the difference? It’s your muscles that you’re working, not your joints, but your joints tend to pay the price. Think of it as your muscles cashing cheques your joints can’t afford. You could run into difficulties if you then lift without a wrap, as your joint would not keep up with the muscles.


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So what do elbow and wrist wraps do?

 

Primarily elbow and wrist wraps provide warmth and compression. They are designed to offer enhanced comfort and support to wrists while reducing the risk of sprains and injury during workouts.

If you keep in mind the idea that wraps offer extra support, rather than being a failsafe that does the work for you, then you can use them to your advantage. They, therefore, are essential for your gym kit when you are coming back from an injury or when you’re trying a new one-rep max lift.

Obviously, if you’re injured the last thing you should do is put unnecessary strain on your wrists and elbows. But when used with very light weights this can be a bit of added security when the time comes to rebuild.

If you’re not injured but want to utilise the extra support to boost the amount you can lift, make sure you factor that you need to strengthen your wrists and elbows at some point. If, for example, you do three workouts, make sure two of them are without the additional support so that you build your natural strength. If you’re not sure when to use them, then only use wraps for your heaviest lifting and go without for lighter workouts.

If you’re trying to solve tendinitis with wraps then you should first seek medical advice. The extra pressure has been proven to relieve the strain you’re feeling, but isn’t a cure, only a temporary fix for when you lift. If you’re prone to tendinitis you should stretch out your forearms, covering both flexion and extension before you lift. Tendinitis is often the result of overworking, so re-evaluate which exercises you’re doing when during your workout week. It might be that you were focusing on different muscles yet working the same tendons in your elbow too much.


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If your reason for wrist wraps is that your wrists hurt when you lift heavy weights, you’ll have deduced the reason for that already: your wrists are too weak. This carries the same issue as previously mentioned: you’re focusing on your chest when you bench press, so if your flimsy wrist is getting in the way of adding more weight to your lift, get it strapped up, right? Well, not quite, because then you won’t be solving the issue of your weaker wrist or forearms or grip.

 

To do this, you need to spread a little bit of your focus to developing your forearms when it suits your weekly plans. You already do this with the likes of rows and deadlifts, but there’s no reason you can’t perform some isolating exercises specifically for your forearms – just keep them until the end of a session so that it doesn’t affect other exercises.


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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile oranisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.


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