To wrap or not to wrap

Belts, straps, grips, weightlifting shoes, knee sleeves there are so many products on the market and more often than not, you will find all of the above in most gym bag these days. An addition to the above is the Wrist Wrap, which is also a staple for most gym goers today. Purpose of the using wrist wraps should be to provide support to the wrist joint during heavy or max effort lifts (Pressing or Overhead). There is definitely benefit to using wraps and they have a place in your gym bag but knowing when to use and not overuse is key. One thing that happens when you use wraps is that your mobility/flexibility through your wrists is decreased due to how the wraps are placed. So are you limiting yourself by decreasing your mobility/flexibility in certain aspects of your training by relying on straps and avoiding developing strength and mobility in your wrists instead? I compare this to using weightlifting shoes to hide your inefficiencies in your squat. Wrist Wraps do not make you more flexible, more often than not people have pain in their wrists in the front rack position, but this could be a result of poor mobility in the upper body, Poor thoracic extension, a lack of shoulder flexion and external rotation and wrist flexibility can all play a role in poor rack position. Becoming dependent on wraps all the time will limit your strength development in your wrist flexors and extensors. Try to avoid using them within your warm up as you will not be lifting heavy or performing high skill gymnastic movements at this stage. Use this time to warm up your wrists properly and work through your easier reps without any assistance. Moving into gymnastics wrist wraps again do you need them for dips, handstand push-ups or pull-ups. Again think about limitation in movement the wraps give you. Some people use them for high reps in the muscle up if you use a false grip to protect the skin if this is the case then the are serving a different purpose and there are also other options for this. Those recovering from a wrist injury may find some comfort in wearing wrist wraps and for this purpose when competing or getting through some high volume training then go ahead but at the end of the day building strength, mobility and flexibility will be the key to longevity in your training. Check out Carmen Bosman's Article (June 2017) on wrist strengthening exercises or some of our mobility guru Andre Houdet's posts on mobility for more guidance in this area!   By: Jamie Clarke, Performance Coach