In my ongoing efforts to highlight studies addressing safety issues in combat sports, an interesting study was recently published by Benjamin Lee and Stuart McGill from the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory, at the University of Waterloo (Canada) testing the peak forces caused by MMA gloves contrasted with 16 oz boxing gloves. The study also reviewed the time to peak force between these gloves along with their patterns of wear during 10,000 strikes.
The study reached the following conclusions:
MMA gloves produced 4‐5 times greater peak force and 5 times faster load rate compared to the boxing glove. However, MMA gloves also showed signs of material fatigue, with peak force increasing by 35% and rate of loading increasing by 60% over the duration of the test. Boxing glove characteristics did deteriorate but to a lesser extent. In summary, the kinetic properties of MMA glove differed substantially from the boxing glove resulting in impacts characterized by higher peak forces and more rapid development of force. Material properties including stiffness and thickness play a role in the kinetic characteristics upon impact, and can be inferred to alter injury mechanisms of blunt force trauma.
The full study can be found here: Striking dynamics and kinetic properties of boxing and MMA gloves
I asked physicist Jason Thalken, a person who knows a thing or two about the science of striking, for some feedback on the importance of this data who felt that the peak force metric was not nearly as important as the faster time to peak force produced by MMA gloves. Here are Jason’s comments: