Given that CTE is being linked to duration and severity of contact and further that the KO rate by punches in MMA increased tenfold after gloves with conventional wraps became the norm in the sport, should MMA and other striking sport athletes use ‘padded’ hand wraps to reduce brain trauma while sparring? An article published this week in the International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science suggests so.
In the recent article, titled “The Influence of a Padded Hand Wrap on Punching Force in Elite and Untrained Punchers” the authors had 14 trained fighters and 24 untrained individuals punch at maximum power with gloves and conventional wraps and then again with “an additional 1.2cm thick cylinder 4g foam-like pad placed over the knuckles”. The tests revealed that the additional padding reduced punching force by 8.9% for the untrained individuals and 12.6% for the trained fighters.
The authors conclude that “Practitioners should consider utilizing hand-padding strategies such as this during practice/sparring as the reduction in punching force will likely have important long-term health implications for both the puncher and the person absorbing the punch.“.
The full study can be found here – The Influence of a Padded Hand Wrap on Punching Force
Whether or not adding padding to training hand wraps helps address TBI in combat sports all athletes would be wise to remember that the accumulation of sub concussive trauma likely leads to CTE and methods which respect long term brain health should be first and foremost in any training program.