What are wrist wraps?
Wrist wraps are pieces of stiff fabric that are wrapped around your wrists to help stabilize and compress your wrists during overhead or pushing exercises (Valdez, 2021). There are different varieties of wrist wraps of varying stiffness, depending on how much stability you prefer.
What’s the difference between wrist wraps and wrist straps?
Wrist straps are pieces of cloth or leather that are wrapped around your wrist and the bar in order to hold heavy weight more easily (Bonvechio, 2021). They are mainly used so that you can push past the limit where your grip would usually fail, in turn allowing you to fatigue the target muscle (Bonvechio, 2021). Wrist straps are typically used for pulling movements, such as deadlifts, rows, shrugs, and rack pulls (Bonvechio, 2021).
Wrist wraps have less to do with grip strength and more to do with wrist stability. They are used mostly for pushing movements, such as overhead/shoulder press, bench press, and overhead squats (Valdez, 2021). They could also be used for exercises that require a stable wrist, such as pushups and pullups (Valdez, 2021).
When to use wrist wraps?
It’s best to only use wrist wraps when the load is very heavy, i.e. when you’re pushing your max weight (Hughes, 2023). When used in this way, wrist wraps can help prevent injury, similar to how you’d use a weightlifting belt when deadlifting or squatting. Wrist wraps are also used if your wrist is recovering from injury in order to provide more stability (Hughes, 2023).
However, using wrist wraps all the time, and not just during maximum lifts, can lead your wrists to becoming “dependent” on that support (Hughes, 2023). In the same sense that you don’t want to use a weightlifting belt as a “bandaid” for poor form or strength, you want to make sure you’re working on strengthening and stabilizing your wrists during your lifts when you’re not using the wraps.
A note on wrist issues
If you’re one to use wrist wraps due to wrist pain or discomfort, it’s important to identify where your wrist issues originate from. Poor thoracic, scapular, and shoulder mobility can be common factors that contribute to wrist pain, due to the body compensating for poor wrist mobility (Hughes, 2023). Ensuring that you’re incorporating mobility work into your lifting routine could help mitigate these issues.
Bonvechio, T. (2021, June 2). How, why, and when to use wrist straps. Bodybuilding.com.
Hughes, S. (2023, August 10). Wrist wraps. when you need them. when you don’t. Arrow
Physical Therapy Seattle.
Valdez, E. (2021, November 3). Wrist wrap guide: What are they, how, and when to use them.